Stellenbosch University
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Budding SU scientists showcase innovative research
Author: Alec Basson
Published: 04/03/2014

Toxic heavy metals polluting the air, the need for improved diagnosis of depression, rooibos preventing skin cancer, low cost MRI scans in the fruit industry, the fight against fungal infections in grapevines, and churches alleviating poverty.

These are just some of the exciting topics 12 doctoral students from seven faculties at Stellenbosch University (SU) will present at the third annual New Voices in Science colloquium to be held on Friday, 7 March 2014.

This colloquium, organised by SU's Postgraduate and International Office, starts at 08:30 at the Wallenberg Research Centre at the Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Study (STIAS).

The researchers, who are all finalists of a science communication programme at the University, have only 5 min each to present their research in an understandable way to the audience. The researchers will also have to answer questions from the floor. Prizes are up for grabs for the best presentation, best article and best photo.

Ms Ronel Steyn, Coordinator of the Postgraduate Skills Development Programme in the Postgraduate and International Office at SU, says the New Voices in Science event is an opportunity to celebrate the contribution of science to society and to keep the public informed about the latest scientific research.

"Through the New Voices programme, the University teaches its young scientists to share their research with the public and the media in a responsible way," she says.

"The general public are often not aware of the role of science and how science affects them on a daily basis.  Science communication has therefore become very important and this is exactly what the New Voices programme does," comments Prof Eugene Cloete, Vice-Rector: Research and Innovation at SU.

He adds that stakeholders, including the public and funding agencies, get the opportunity to see and hear how science is creating a better world for all of us.

In addition to the individual speeches, a writing and photo competition will also from part of this year's event.

Presentations will be published in the New Voices in Science magazine which will be available at the Postgraduate and International Office.

  • For more information about the colloquium, liaise with Ronel Steyn at or 021 808 9157.
  • Click here for more information or watch a video of a previous event here.​

Photo: Doctoral students at the 2012 New Voices in Science event.


08:30 Coffee and Registration

08:45 Welcome

  • Feeding off hunger: A theologian reinterprets the hope for heaven as a call to fight poverty.
    Collium Banda Dept. Systematic Theology and Ecclesiology
  • White sharks: what really lies beneath the surface? A marine biologist reveals a different side to sharks.
    Sara Andreotti Dept. Botany and Zoology
  • MRI scans on the fruit sorting line: An engineer shows how a low cost version of MRI could revolutionise the fruit industry.
    Frederic Isingizwe Dept. Electric & Electronic Engineering
  • If you can't say it, draw it! A design researcher explains how researchers and community partners reach a common understanding.
    Lorraine Ambole School of Public Leadership
  • Genetic profiling ‐ a silver bullet for schizophrenia treatment? A geneticist reveals medical treatments of the not too distant future.
    Britt Drögemöller Dept. Genetics
  • Teacher burnout in gang‐ridden schools: A psychology researcher tests simple interventions with powerful results
    Sharon Johnson Dept. Psychology

10:45 Tea

  • Creating and perceiving music: A composer liberates music with complexity theory.
    Hans Huyssen Dept. Music
  • Air pollution ‐ an invisible killer: A nuclear physicist reveals toxic heavy metals in the air we breathe.
    Zina Ndlovu Dept. Physics
  • The sad truth about depression: A psychologist points out the limitations of current mental health diagnoses. Carla Dukas Dept. Psychology
  • Genetic modification in vines gives surprising results: a molecular biologist tells us how the fight against a notorious grapevine fungal infection was almost won.
    Mukani Moyo Dept. Viticulture and Oenology
  • Rooibos can slow the progress of skin cancer: A biochemist shares growing evidence of cancer fighting compounds in rooibos.
    Tandeka Magcwebeba Dept. Biochemistry
  • Taxi to Proteaville: An ecologist uncovers a minute transport system important to protea pollination.  
    Natalie Theron Dept. Conservation Ecology and Entomology​