Food for Thought and Thought for Food: Profiling Dr Nomusa Dlamini

Dr Nomusa Dlamini

In the 21st century many women have really used their strength and capabilities to fill a much-needed gap in Business/Science. One of these remarkable women is Dr Nomusa Rhoda Dlamini. Dr Dlamini is a Principal Researcher in Food Sciences at CSIR Biosciences. She has extensive experience in the food and agro-processing sector and has participated in technology transfer and training. She has several publications in regional and international peer reviewed journals, and she has also presented at international conferences.

Dr Dlamini is an inspiration to young, black and academically driven people, as she balances being a mother, wife and a business woman.  She has extensive experience working with multidisciplinary teams on community projects on improving nutritional status of rural communities, mentoring and supervising interns and post graduate students and writing reports and research papers for publication, just to mention a few. Her research on food and agroprocessing benefits communities in as it contributes to the establishment of small businesses locally to provide safe and nutritious foods, as well as to improve food security: “I enjoy using science to benefit society, so people can improve their livelihoods. As a researcher, I also enjoy gathering as much knowledge as possible on various things that interest me in the field of science.”

She started her career in science at Milton High School – Zimbabwe as a Biology and Science Teacher. She joined Biosciences at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) in 2007 as a research scientist, and has been a Senior Researcher and Research Group Leader from 2008 to 2015. She was made Principal Research Scientist in 2015.

Her choosing a career in biosciences stemmed from her interest in health: “I have always been interested in issues around health, and at some point I wanted to be a doctor, and sciences came naturally to me. I later discovered the fields of nutrition and food sciences, and decided to focus on these, as they are the first point of good health, before you go to the doctor.”

Dr Dlamini’s advice to aspiring young female scientists is sound: “Identify your area of interest and learn as much as you can. Advance your education and publish. We need more women in engineering and sciences, and I think those that are there are making impact and inspiring younger women.”

She really shows us that hard work pays off as she has won a number of international awards, including a Fulbright Fellowship (2004-2007): Texas A&M University, College Station, USA and Third World Organisation of Women in Sciences (TWOWS) (2003-2004), University of Pretoria. Dr Dlamini is also the recipient of the Visiting International Scholar (1996), California Polytechnic University, Pomona, USA award.

Futhermore, Dr Dlamini and her team have developed a nutritious drink to help alleviate vitamin A malnutrition which has been supplied to selected schools in Cofimvaba as part of a school nutrition programme. The project is currently receiving funding from SANBio under the BioFISA II Programme to commercialise the product.