College of Agriculture, Engineering
and Science (CAES)

Genetics Student Awarded Prestigious Doctoral Research Scholarship

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Doctoral student Ms Cwengile Chumisa Dweba has been awarded the UKZN Doctoral Research Scholarship.

Dweba had a long standing love for mathematics and life sciences, particularly in the genetics section, so in 2010 when the time came to choose a degree, she registered for a BSc in Genetics and has not looked back since.

The Doctoral Research Scholarship is awarded to a maximum of four senior postgraduate level students at UKZN.

Her PhD topic is: Identification and Molecular Characterisation of Antibiotic and Heavy Metal Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus from South African Livestock. She chose the topic because of her interest in food security that developed from her MSc work on new fungal resistant wheat cultivators.

‘I started this project straight after the recent outbreak of listeriosis in our country,’ said Dweba. ‘I wanted to monitor pathogenic microorganisms in food-producing livestock, especially in rural areas where they depend so much on backyard farming.’

Dweba’s accolades include a merit certificate in one of her biology modules during her honours year and an Excellence Award from the Agricultural Research Council (ARC) during her masters’ studies. She also participated in the College’s Postgraduate Research and Innovation Symposium in 2016 and won first prize for her presentation.

Her master’s research work produced two papers published internationally.

‘I plan to span the scholarship over the year so that it keeps me going thus removing the financial stress and just concentrate on completing my qualification.’

Dweba’s supervisor, Dr Oliver Tendayi Zishiri, described her as one of the most hard-working postgraduate candidates in his research group. ‘I have seen her struggle for the past two years with no funding, but her work ethic has never deteriorated. I am very happy to see her receive the scholarship she so rightly deserves.’

Said her mother Mrs Xoliswa Dweba: ‘Cwengile is very hard working and deserves this and much more. She has always made me so proud and I am very happy to see her receiving the scholarship.’

Dweba said her most inspirational experience at UKZN was being thanked by a third-year student she was assisting. ‘Teaching is a great passion of mine and to have received a letter of appreciation from one of my students truly inspired me to work harder and be better.’

Dweba, who was recently appointed an ad hoc lecturer for Genetics, says her dream is to be involved in both research and teaching.

Words: Samantha Ngcongo

Photograph: Rajesh Jantilal