College of Agriculture, Engineering
and Science (CAES)

Laser Beam Research Leads to Cum Laude MSc

When Mr Gareth Enoch studied Geography in high school, he became passionate about the atmosphere and longed to learn more about the nature and properties of matter and energy. Fast forward several years, and Enoch has now graduated with a Master of Science degree in Physics cum laude from UKZN.

‘Having completed my BSc and BSc Honours degrees through UKZN, I came to know the staff of the Pietermaritzburg Physics department very well,’ said Enoch. ‘I knew first-hand what experts they were in the field, so choosing to stick with UKZN was an easy and smart choice.’

Enoch’s MSc research involved experimentally analysing the effects of a laser beam subjected to a thermally turbulent stream of wind directed at various angles to its axis.

‘Laser beams have a diverse range of uses in the scientific world with a proven track record of producing many robust results,’ said Enoch. ‘Turbulence in our atmosphere is inherently random. Therefore, developing a greater understanding of how light interacts with our atmosphere, through various turbulence models, will assist in advancing areas such as defensive and offensive military weaponry, remote sensing, power transferal, telecommunications and turbulence detection.’

When not exploring the wonders of physics, Enoch enjoys hiking, hanging out with friends and reading a good novel.  He is grateful to his parents, Clifford and Samantha Enoch, for playing a key role in his life by always pushing him to follow his dreams and guiding him every step of the way.

Enoch also named his supervisor Professor Naven Chetty as being vital in his success. ‘Prof Chetty has been with me from the very start at UKZN as my first Physics lecturer and now my MSc (and in future, my PhD) supervisor,’ he said. ‘His door was always open and he always took calls when I experienced difficulties. The latter is especially true since lockdown.’

Enoch hopes to continue with PhD research focusing on laser-turbulence interactions in a greenhouse gas medium in which he plans to subject a laser beam to turbulent water from sources ranging from distilled water to seawater.

Words: Ntokozo Dladla

Photograph: Supplied