Dr Tonderai Mombeshora graduated with his PhD in Chemistry with his family by his side.

Passionate Nanotechnologist Graduates with a PhD

Dr Tonderai Mombeshora graduated with a PhD in Chemistry and is ready to make an impact in the world for the betterment of society.

Mombeshora tackles nanotechnology where his research work investigated usage of nanostructured materials, namely, multiwalled carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs) and reduced graphene oxide (RGO) in electrochemical double layer capacitors (EDLCs) as energy storage devices.

‘The main goal was to explore physicochemical properties and pursue feasible strategies of enhancing the energy storage functionality by use of carbon-based nanomaterials,’ says Mombeshora.

He explains that his research plays a huge role in society: ‘my MSc and PhD work impacts the local societies towards development of new, cost-effective, reliable, long-lasting and environmentally friendly energy storage systems (ESS) with quick energy delivery as a support to ever-rising energy needs.  The ultimate goal is the development of intelligent ESS that maximise and provides durable storage of electrical power generated. This is a suitable approach towards reducing gas emissions, lowering electricity bills, meet power needs at any time and for lowering excess power fluctuations in our local societies.’

Mombeshora said graduating means ‘finally being a certified Chemical Scientist and tried and tested theorist.’ It was a gratifying moment for Mombeshora who faced a number of setbacks during his studies.

From a water crisis that could have potentially delayed his research, to frequent power cuts during 2015 and 2016, disheartening comments from reviewers and the “Fees Must Fall” student protest in 2016. Mombeshora said the major problems were the availability of instruments and the breakdowns, which took some time to be repaired.

Mombeshora overcame the challenges and is proud that all the chapters of his thesis were published in reputable peer-reviewed journals. ‘I had to go beyond my research team, School and at times outside the University itself just to get things done in good time.  I kept pushing harder and soldiered onwards,’ he said.

Mombeshora is looking forward to the future and plans to impart his scientific knowledge and lead the local communities towards better lifestyles and standards of living.

‘I aspire to move beyond laboratory “test tube research” to industrial-related research and commercial products.  I want to be amongst the leading research personnel with hands on experiences and expertise.  I want to become a consistent researcher in terms of productivity and have more scientific article contributions in high impact journals over the next couple of years,’ said Mombeshora.

His advice to undergraduate students: ‘Keep your eyes on the prize and don’t allow anything to distract you, and above all, keep God at the centre of everything. Remember to work hard and remain dedicated. With hard work you will surely achieve your dreams.’

Professor Vincent Nyamori, Mombeshora’s main supervisor, had this to say about Mombeshora: ‘Dr Mombeshora was a diligent and self-driven research student.  Very proud of his excellent PhD completion.  It was a very impressive result, as a matter of facts, one of the External Examiner comment was, ‘I have to state that throughout my research career I have never had the opportunity to review a thesis of this excellent quality. It was a great privilege to perform this task!’

Mombeshora attributed his success to God and thanked his wife and family ‘who have always been pillars of moral and emotional support throughout this journey’. He also acknowledged his mentor, Professor Reuben Simoyi, his supervisors, Professor Vincent Nyamori and Professor Patrick Ndungu and Dr Leigh Jarvis for their advice and support.

When asked what inspiring greatness meant to him, Mombeshora said: ‘Being a positive motivation to other people through the way one handles and does things in life and having a positive effect in the lives of other people around.  Also, to me, it means admiring and striving for excellence (greatness).’

Words: Zolile Duma