Being awarded a prestigious fellowship has allowed UKZN postdoctoral scholar in the School of Life Sciences, Dr Trishan Naidoo, to spend two months doing research at a university in England.
Naidoo received a Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU) Fellowship, enabling him to spend time at the University of Plymouth, hosted by Professor Richard Thompson, an expert in the field of plastic pollution.
Thompson invited Naidoo to apply for the fellowship after examining his PhD research, after being impressed by his work completed on UKZN’s Westville campus.
Naidoo is at the University of Plymouth for two months and will work on examining the effects of microplastic ingestion in juvenile fish that inhabit mangrove ecosystems to aid the evaluation of the pollution.
His association with experts in microplastic research will help him acquire important skills, including those needed to best isolate and characterise microplastic pollutants in fish. He expressed excitement at the opportunity.
Naidoo, who is still affiliated with UKZN, is registered with the University of the Western Cape to conduct postdoctoral research on the health of mangrove forests in the KwaZulu-Natal area. During his Master’s research at UKZN, he was one of the first students at the institution to undertake research into the problem of microplastics, specifically to better evaluate the state of estuarine systems in the Durban area and the effect of microplastic pollutants on juvenile fish. He credited his supervisor, Dr David Glassom, for playing a large role in his studies.
To begin to turn the tide on what has become a significant environmental challenge, Naidoo hopes to see a reduction in the use of single-use plastic, as well as the elimination of cosmetic products containing microplastic particles.
Words: Christine Cuénod
Photograph supplied by Trishan Naidoo