Mr Milesh Laltha, who graduated cum laude with a Master’s degree in Microbiology, has had two of his scientific articles published in the respected international journals, Bioresource Technology and Biomass Conversion and Biorefinery.
Supervised by Professor Gueguim Kana and co-supervised by Dr Yeshona Sukai, Laltha investigated the development of innovative pretreatments for simultaneous saccharification and citric acid production from banana pseudostem, focusing on the bioprocess optimisation and kinetic assessment involved.
‘I did my Master’s degree in Microbiology at UKZN mainly because of the University’s well-established reputation for academic excellence and research programmes across various fields,’ said Laltha. However, the promise of fee remission and financial support from the National Research Foundation (NRF) was also a contributing factor in his decision.
Laltha’s research focused on developing more cost effective and efficient methods for the pretreatment and fermentation of renewable resources to produce biofuels and bioproducts.
‘My research aimed to contribute to the development of sustainable and renewable energy sources that can help reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and mitigate climate change,’ he said.
Laltha’s decision to read for an MSc in Microbiology stemmed from his passion for the subject and a deep curiosity about microorganisms. He was also driven by his desire to address environmental issues and expand his knowledge and understanding of the field.
‘Concerns about climate change and the need to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels as well as the desire to contribute to the development of innovative and sustainable solutions that have a positive impact on the environment and society also played a significant role in my decision,’ he said.
The significance of Laltha’s research lies in its potential to assist in developing more efficient and cost-effective methods for producing biofuels and bioproducts from renewable resources. ‘This can help make these alternative energy sources more economically viable and reduce the overall carbon footprint of our energy systems.’
Laltha plans to apply his research expertise in renewable energy and bioproducts to a career in academia, industry or government. ‘I am keen to gain work experience in the industry and apply my knowledge to improve the lives of others,’ he said.
Laltha thanked his academic supervisors, colleagues, family and partner for all playing important roles in helping him get to where he is today.
In his free time, Laltha enjoys reading, exercising, gaming, socialising and travelling to new places.
Words: Sally Frost
Photograph: Abhi Indrarajan