School of Life Sciences

Ms Myuri Parusnath graduates with her Master’s in Science cum laude.

Research Explores Medicinal Benefits of Velvet Bushwillow

Ms Myuri Parusnath has graduated with her Master’s in Science cum laude.

Her passion for science started as a child when she would create “potions” by mixing lotion, perfume and shampoo. After matriculating from Star College with exceptional results, she registered for a Bachelor of Science in Biological Sciences at UKZN. She was awarded Certificates of Merit for several modules and was a member of the Golden Key International Society.

Having obtained her BSc Honours in Biological Sciences summa cum laude, and published her first paper in the South African Journal of Botany, Parusnath was awarded a National Research Foundation scholarship to undertake master’s studies. Her research investigated the biological medicinal properties of a plant commonly known as the velvet bushwillow that was used by traditional healers for the symptomatic treatment of malaria, hookworm, stomach pain, leprosy, diarrhoea, convulsions and HIV and AIDS. Parusnath’s investigation of the underlying structures and compounds that provide the plant with its therapeutic effects showed that the plant had several properties, including antibacterial and antioxidant effects which mean that its extracts and isolated compounds could be used in drug development.

Parusnath won first prize for her flash presentation at the 2022 College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science Postgraduate Research and Innovation Symposium (PRIS) and participated in the Microscopy Society of Southern Africa Conference. She will be presenting her research at an international conference in 2023. She is currently registered for a PhD in Biology continuing her medicinal plant research and hopes to pursue a career in academia.

She thanked her supervisors, Professors Yogis Naidoo and Mogie Singh, and her family and friends for their support throughout her master’s degree.

Naidoo and Singh described Parusnath as disciplined, enthusiastic and hardworking. ‘We are incredibly proud of her achievement and hope she takes this momentum into her PhD studies, which she is currently pursuing under our supervision.’

Words: Leena Rajpal

Photograph: Rajesh Jantilal