Dr Manqoba Zungu is the fifth Talent Excellence and Equity Acceleration Scholarship (TEEAS) recipient to be appointed as a lecturer at UKZN and the second recipient of this scholarship to become a lecturer in the School of Life Sciences.

Zungu, who holds a PhD in Biological Sciences, said that he aspired to become a lecturer in order to ‘give back to the Institution that has helped me to grow by playing a role in training and developing future professionals in my field.’

Over the years, Zungu has received various awards at the Durban Research Action Partnership Annual Symposium, including Best Poster Presentation in 2016; Best Oral Presentation (Runner-Up) in 2017, and Best Oral Presentation in 2018.

He is currently engaged in multidisciplinary research on the links between biodiversity, ecosystem services and human well-being in urban green spaces, using eThekwini Municipality as a case study.

His love of nature started at a young age and he has fond childhood memories of walking with his brothers through the bushes in search of wild fruit and beehives or hunting game. ‘Growing up the rural area of Swayimane (near Pietermaritzburg), I have always been captivated by nature and this has deepened over the years, so it’s only natural that I would choose to study Environmental Sciences.’

Zungu thanked the TEEAS community for enabling him to achieve his dream of becoming a lecturer: ‘This scholarship has given me guidance and training through its mentorship programme, allowing for a smooth transition to the world of academia.’

He also thanked UKZN for funding him through this initiative, as well as his family and friends for supporting him through the years. ‘I would like to encourage other students, especially those intending to pursue a career in academia, to apply for TEEAS and other initiatives like it in order to grow both personally and professionally,’ he said.

Director: Human Resources Development at UKZN, Mrs Busisiwe Ramabodu said: ‘It is very exciting to see TEEAS graduates transitioning into lectureship; with Dr Zungu being the fifth candidate to achieve this out of 39 candidates. We are eager to see the remaining 34 achieve the same and contribute to the transformation of the academic pipeline. Through a partnership between Human Resources, the School of Life Sciences and the Dean and Head of School, Dr Zungu received the necessary support. We at HR congratulate him and wish him well’.

Words: Hlengiwe Khwela