Thirteen UKZN scholars have been appointed New Generation of Academics Programme (nGAP) lecturers.
nGAP is a transformation programme initiated by the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) to help universities recruit new academics in line with staffing and development plans.
UKZN Director for Human Resources Development, Ms Busisiwe Ramabodu, said the nGAP programme is in line with the University’s Integrated Talent Management and Transformation strategies. Ramabodu said the academic sector in South Africa comprised a workforce that is ‘aging and there is insufficient representation of Black academics; therefore nGAP supports universities in achieving their transformation goals as well as contributing positively to the transformation agenda of the country’.
Ramabodu said the programme enabled newly-recruited lecturers to benefit from teaching development and research development opportunities. ‘The nGAP system is an excellent opportunity for young academics to build their academic research and teaching careers through the support and funding provided in the programme,’ she said.
UKZN is proud to have appointed 13 nGAP lecturers so far, two of whom have already completed their PhDs. ‘The University congratulates them on achieving this important milestone in their careers. This contributes positively to the PhD agenda of the country which has been linked to the quality of teaching as well as the GDP of the country,’ said Ramabodu.
The nGAP lecturers are:
Mr Siyabonga Blessing Dlamini
‘My research interests over the years have been around adolescent health, particularly behaviour change/modification (sexual health and substance use/abuse). More recently, I have also been interested in cancer epidemiology. I am part of the Multinational Lung Cancer Control Programme (MLCCP) as an in-country CO-PI and my PhD is based in this project. My academic career started at UKZN. I had a wonderful mentor, Professor Myra Taylor, who encouraged me to work hard and reach my full potential. The Discipline of Public Health Medicine has been a great influence in my understanding of the world of academia and research. It made sense for me to choose an institution and discipline where it all started for me.’
Ms Ntombifuthi Princess Ngubane
‘My recent research focus has been on the anatomy of the sphenoidal air sinus and my research interests for the near future are on cardiothoracic surgery. As an anatomist, my goal is to add knowledge that will make surgical procedures safer through research.
They say there’s no place like home so what more can one ask for than to work at your home university. I have been groomed by the University of KwaZulu-Natal since my first day of tertiary level experience, and one thing I have loved since then is the quality of education and the diversity at the University. I’ve always wanted to be a scientist and when I was introduced to research, I just knew it was something I wanted to do for the rest of my life.
I have always wanted to nurture those coming after me academically and in research, similar to those ahead of me who have groomed me.
I have never seen myself at any other place than UKZN, and as much as I have chosen it, it chose me too. I will forever be grateful for the nGAP opportunity. It has made my wishes and dreams come true.’
Ms Funanani Nevondo
‘As an analytical chemist my research interests currently involve developing new methods which are green (using as little solvents as possible), fast and reliable for the analysis of contaminants in our food. The contaminants include those classified as persistent organic pollutants (POPs).
I chose UKZN before I chose a career I wanted to follow. I knew that I wanted to study any science that was offered at UKZN. So, in 2007, I walked into UKZN to tackle one of the challenging subjects I had in high school (chemistry) and I knew then I would study Chemistry until I mastered it. I am enjoying the journey so far!’
Ms Katelyn Johnson
‘My research interests are in flood studies and hydrological extremes. My PhD research entails the estimation of extreme design rainfall events which are needed to determine design floods used to design and construct hydraulic structures. I am also investigating the impacts of the non-stationary climate on rainfall and flooding.
UKZN has an international reputation for academic excellence and outstanding research output. My goal is to become a well-established researcher and academic. The University provides the perfect environment for me to develop as an early career scientist and academic.’
Dr Nokwazi Mbili
‘I am a Plant Pathologist with a PhD, specialising in Postharvest Pathology and Biological Control. My research interest focus is on postharvest factors affecting postharvest performance of fruits and vegetables, management of postharvest diseases of fruits and vegetables.
I chose UKZN because it has an international reputation for academic excellence, outstanding research output and African scholarship.’
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Mr Viloshin Govender
‘My interests are architectural design and urban design; looking at how lost space is used and how it can be captured. I am also interested in adaptive re-use and how the city can be utilised to its full potential in creating sustainable urban environments.
I lectured part-time at UKZN whilst doing my Master’s degree and fell in love with passing knowledge onto others. I like the atmosphere and collaboration spaces of our studios. It allows for us to critically engage in ideas and thoughts that can shape the world around us. The University also has a strong ethos to develop and nurture young academics.’
Ms Wendy Mdlalose
‘My research involves the synthesis, structural and magnetic characterisations of nanoparticle mixed ferrites. This research is motivated by how the fundamental properties of materials depend on microstructure. My current interest is interdisciplinary research which includes applications of nanoparticle ferrites in drug delivery and biomedical.
All my studies have been done at UKZN. During my undergraduate years, there were no women lecturers in the Physics discipline and very few women students, especially black students, continued with their postgraduate studies. I noticed from then that there is a lack of motivation for women to pursue studies in the discipline. I started searching for any teaching opportunity within the School so that I would get a chance to encourage other women to pursue their studies in Physics.
‘I chose UKZN because it is surrounded by previously disadvantaged schools and I can relate with the situation since I was born and grew up in KZN. I also had an opportunity to teach for six months at one of the KZN high schools before joining UKZN so I have a better understanding of the nature of the students that come to UKZN. I also have an interest in developing or discovering new things through research and UKZN is one of the universities that encourages this.’
Mrs Zandile Peter
‘I am interested in universal hearing, speech impairment and language delay for children in early childhood centres; HIV/AIDS impact on hearing; communication and swallowing disorders. I am also interested in ototoxicity associated with TB and AIDS medication.
I chose UKZN because it a University that has a good research trajectory and offers its staff and students world-class education.’
Mr Buyani Gift Nene
‘My research interests are in Sociolinguistics with under-language planning as a sub-field. The process of developing African languages is slowly happening while provisions are being made in the SA Constitution and other National Language policies.
I chose UKZN because is the leading higher institution in developing and promoting isiZulu as the language of teaching, learning and instruction.’
Mr December Mpanza
‘My research interests are Substance Abuse, Public Health Systems Research, and Physical Rehabilitation in Occupational Therapy.
I chose UKZN because it is a university with a vision and direction to transform African scholarship. I want to be part of the realisation of this vision and contribute to the best of my ability. Moreover, UKZN is full of opportunities for growth and development in academia of which other universities do not have to such an extent. In addition, UKZN ethos resonates with my personal ethos and belief system hence it is the university of choice for me.’
Ms Tshephiso Papo
‘My research interests include the synthesis, kinetic and mechanisms of substitution reactions of platinum (II) metal complexes with potential anti-tumour activity.
I was already registered at UKZN when I acquired a job, so it made sense that I complete my studies while working.’
Ms Phalane Lebotsa
My research interests are food security and food quality which I believe can be achieved through research and innovation. I chose UKZN because it inspires greatness and the quality of education at the University is great.
• nGAP posts are advertised and academics selected as per the Recruitment and Selection Policy of the University based on the funding received from DHET. The University currently has four nGAP posts available: Lecturer: Occupational Therapy; Lecturer: Civil Engineering; Lecturer: Dental Therapy and Lecturer: Laboratory Medicine.
The University also “headhunts” for these positions. Interested candidates must be South African, 40 years or younger, with a Master’s degree and be willing to register for a PhD immediately after being appointed. Preference will be given to applicants from designated groups in accordance with the University’s Employment Equity Plan.
Words by Raylene Captain-Hasthibeer