School of Life Sciences

Three Times a UKZN Graduate!

“Perseverance pays off” is a maxim Miss Pumla Vanessa Dlamini can proudly claim as being relevant in her life.

Dlamini recently graduated with a Master’s degree in Ecological Sciences, her third degree from UKZN having previously obtained BSc and BSc Honours degrees from the University.

She says UKZN’s top ranking in research is the reason she has loyally stayed committed to her alma mater.

Dlamini’s masters dissertation was on the assessment of the current ecological integrity of the uMngeni River in KwaZulu-Natal, using fish community structures and attributes of the Labeobarbus natalensis (Castelnau, 1861) populations. She was supervised by Professor Colleen Downs and Dr Gordon O’Brien.

Dlamini assessed fish communities at various sites along the uMngeni River as well as the state of KZN yellowfish (Labeobarbus natalensis) populations in major dams on the river. The results of her study are relevant as they highlight the importance of the sustainable management and development of conservation plans for the uMngeni, which are needed as the river is of great socio-economic importance, providing water to two of the largest urban areas in KZN, the uMgungundlovu and eThekwini municipalities.

‘Rivers, such as the uMngeni River, are the main source of water for human communities and provide people with numerous ecosystem services, therefore the protection of the water resources is of upmost importance,’ she said.

Dlamini decided to explore this area of research when she discovered the Aquatic Ecosystem Research (AER) lab at UKZN’s Pietermaritzburg campus during her honours year, and learned that one of its focus areas was water conservation. As she was already doing Ecology this sparked her interest, especially the concentration on the important, delicate balance between conserving freshwater ecosystems while maintaining sustainable water resources for human consumption… and she joined the lab for her masters research.

Dlamini attributes her successful university career to the support of her family and friends, especially what they did to keep her motivated through the difficult times. The love and support she received from her grandmother – who sadly passed away during her studies – was also of great help in inspiring her to complete her degree.

Dlamini is currently working as an NRF intern for the Public Relations and Career Development Office of UKZN’s College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science. In the near future she hopes to be able to apply the skills and knowledge she has gained from both her studies and time as an intern in the conservation and research fields.

When she has spare time, Dlamini enjoys spending it with friends and watching movies, especially horror movies!!!!

Words: Nicole Chidzawo

Photograph: Supplied