Vocational Training for Postgraduate Bioscience Students

PhD students Makiwa Mthana and Qeda Nyoka with CSIR Lab Technician/Technologist Kanyane Bridgett Malatji

As part of SANBio’s human capital development efforts, two postgraduate students from the North West University (NWU) were trained on molecular biology techniques. The students are part of a student exchange programme between NWU and CSIR. The students’ supervisor Dr DMN Mthiyane reached out to SANBio’s Network Manager Prof. Ereck Chakauya to arrange the training.

The two students as part of this exchange programmes spent time over the past month shadowing and learning from technicians and scientists across the CSIR. They were mentored by passionate researchers in the CSIR Chemicals Cluster (Dr Advaita Singh and Dr Maabo Moralo) and from CSIR Next generation Health Cluster (Bridgett Malatji and Zandile Mahlangu).

 

Qeda Nyoka: from self-taught Agriculture matric student to PhD

After a nearly 20-year hiatus, a passionate Qeka Nyoka returned to the academic space to fulfil his goal of attaining his PhD. Qeda’s longstanding passion for agriculture began in high school, where he led initiatives to have the subject registered despite the unavailability of a teacher.

As he pursued his education further, his interest grew in animal production and expanded into food security using farm animals as a protein source for human beings. He prides himself in his research going beyond publication endeavours but being applicable to the lives of everyday farmers, improving the nutritional status of indigenous chickens.

Key take-aways from the training

The key lesson that Qeda mentions about this training is seeing science in action and not simply publication. The collaboration among various departs is something that he, as a former lecturer and now civil servant, wishes that other academic and government institutions could learn.

Future aspirations

When he completes his PhD, he wishes to return to the research field focusing on innovation for developing farmers.

Message to other students

“I wish students had more opportunities like this. This was an eye-opening experience that helped me realise the potential of the work that can be done in the field.”

 

Makiwa Mthana: passionate about solving Food nutrition security

Eastern Cape-born Makiwa Mthana is a PhD student at the NWU in animal nutrition. Animal science is the pillar of agriculture. Food security being a major challenge for developing countries in Africa, after high school Makiwa chose to be a scientist to solve problems of food security. This was his motivation for pursuing his education in the agricultural field - to solve problems in this regard.

 

Key take-aways from the training

During his time working in the laboratories, Makiwa mentioned the key skills he learnt are the following: observation of techniques of extraction and purification of protein. Exposure to projects on biofarming where they were introduced to antibodies into tobacco plants as a host for expression for nutraceutical purposes. He highlighted gene transferring using electrical shock as a particular favourite.

 

Future aspirations

To be an expert in the field of animal nutrition and nutrigenomics. He aims to have his work published in high-impact factor journals such as Nature. Ultimately, Makiwa wants to see his research findings being applied to solve problems in the real world.

 

Message to other students

“If you’re interested in research that benefits society, seek out opportunities like these”.

 

Exposing researchers and technicians to new knowledge is a key initiative for SANBio. By supporting doing, the Network hopes it can encourage academics to generate marketable products that can be applied in everyday life.