College of Agriculture, Engineering
and Science (CAES)

A Doctor and Mum in One!

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It is not often a woman becomes a doctor and a new mum at around the same time – but that’s what happened to graduate Dr Arghavan Keivani.

Iranian born and bred, Keivani moved to Durban in 2014 after marrying Dr Farzad Ghayoor, a lecturer in UKZN’s Discipline of Electrical Engineering.

Not one to sit around, she decided to enrol for a PhD at UKZN as she believed the University to be one of the best in the country in the field of computer engineering. She found the ideal supervisor in Professor Jules Tapamo, who agreed to work on subjects that interested her – computer vision and video processing.

Keivani’s interest in the application of computer vision and video processing for driver assistance systems was spurred while she was studying previously at the University of Surrey in England.

Although Keivani saw her time as a student at UKZN as an opportunity to learn new things, attend conferences and meet new people, she also found it challenging. ‘Talking to my family, friends and members of the University really helped me get back on track and focus on the reasons I started my PhD in the first place,’ she said.

Keivani’s PhD research examined opportunities that the advancement of technology offer to reduce road fatalities. ‘Computer algorithms were used to analyse live videos that are captured by a camera mounted on a vehicle to alert the driver of hazardous conditions,’ she explained.

Keivani had a little extra something to occupy her mind whilst completing her PhD – she had her first baby! ‘Being eight months pregnant and trying to meet thesis submission deadlines was the most challenging part of my studies,’ she said.

Keivani is currently savouring the joys of motherhood. ‘With the COVID-19 pandemic, I prefer to stay at home and take care of my baby for now.’ She hopes to obtain a postdoctoral or lecturing position next year.

She paid tribute to her husband, who she said played an important role in getting her to where she is today: ‘A PhD degree is a tough assignment and it would not have been possible for me without my husband Farzad’s help. I honestly think that I’m a better person because of him.’

Words: Saneh Mahlase

Photograph: Supplied