A scientist at the Institute of Natural Resources (INR), Ms Samiksha Singh, is the recipient of a Fulbright Scholarship that will enable her to pursue her PhD at the University of California Riverside (UCR) in the United States.
Singh, who said she was grateful and delighted to be awarded the scholarship, is one of only three recipients in KwaZulu-Natal this year.
Having always wanted to pursue a PhD, she was inspired to apply after an educational advisor from the American Embassy visited the INR to introduce young scientists to the programme. The rigorous selection process involved a year-long series of applications, interviews and selection processes.
‘This is such an amazing opportunity that isn’t afforded to everyone so I am definitely going to make the most of it,’ she said.
Singh completed her Master of Science in Environmental Science degree at UKZN in 2016, undertaking research on the use of bio-indicators, specifically periphyton, to determine ecosystem health in rivers and alert scientists and managers to changes in environmental conditions. Through her research, Singh suggested that periphyton could function as an important bio-monitoring tool and aid in the creating and setting of ecological reserves.
Singh has continued to pursue her interests in aquatic environments and bio-monitoring through her work at the INR, where she was an intern before progressing to the position of scientist, engaging with the INR’s environmental management, adaptation and resilience and ecosystems themes.
Singh plans to focus on micro-plastic pollution in rivers and oceans in research for her doctorate.
‘I aim to investigate innovative technologies and methods of identifying and determining the amount of micro-plastics in water resources,’ said Singh.
‘I hope that by studying in a country other than my own, I will be given a chance to broaden my horizons and develop a world view on important environmental issues.’
She added that she is looking forward to the doors that this opportunity will open for her in her career as a young scientist hoping to develop solutions for the very serious threat of micro-plastic pollution.
Words: Christine Cuénod
Photograph: Institute of Natural Resources