A PhD “Century” Plus One for UKZN’s College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science

UKZN’s College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science (CAES) once again made a significant contribution to South Africa’s much-needed brain pool of highly-qualified science, technology and engineering specialists, awarding an impressive 101 PhDs out of a university total of 276 during this year’s April Graduation ceremonies.

The College’s steady production of doctoral graduates is in line with UKZN’s strategic imperative to become the leading research-based university in South Africa.

PhD research showcased by CAES at the 2019 graduations produced a rich and varied body of knowledge across the agricultural, scientific and engineering disciplines.

Research topics included a study of soil indigenous knowledge and its agricultural and non-agricultural uses among KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape communities by UKZN lecturer, Dr Nkosinomusa Dube; managing fruit quality by Dr Khayelihle Ncama; aspects of the ecology of African Woolly-necked Storks (Ciconia microscelis) by Dr Vuyisile Thabethe; an ethnopharmacological study on plants used for skincare and beauty by Xhosa communities by Dr Vuyisile Thibane; how to mitigate against rain-fade in wireless communication during intense storms by Kenyan Dr Mary Nabangala Ahuna; and in an effort to deal with treatment non-compliance, a biostatistical study of when best to start treatment for HIV patients co-infected with TB by CAPRISA head statistician, Dr Nonhlanhla Yende-Zuma.

Not only does CAES aim to increase its PhD graduates, it also maintains a flourishing postdoctoral research programme and currently supports 117 postdoctoral scholars.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Head of the College Professor Albert Modi said: ‘The success of the College is the end result of the commitment and hard work of its academics, professional staff and students. It is an honour to lead this group of individuals.’

The College conferred 1 665 degrees out of a university total of 9 680.  In addition to the 101 PhDs awarded, 200 students graduated with their master’s degrees out of a university total of 787.  UKZN will confer further degrees in September 2019.

Words:  Sally Frost

Photograph: Itumeleng Masa