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Record number of PhD-graduates in chemistry and polymer science
Author: Media & Communication, Faculty of Science
Published: 06/04/2022

​PhD-graduates in Chemistry and Polymer Science dominated the stage during the Faculty of Science's April 2022 graduation ceremony this week.

For the 2021 academic year, the Faculty of Science awarded a grand total of 820 degrees – of which 495 BSc-degrees, 175 BScHons-, 102 MSc- and 48 PhD-degrees. From a total of 48 PhDs for 2021, 20 doctoral students graduated in Chemistry and Polymer Science.

Prof Peter Mallon, head of the Department, says they are proud of all their PhD-graduates who managed to complete their studies despite the major disruptions to their research due to the COVID-19 regulations: “This group of PhD-students were among the first to return to campus in August 2020 to work under very strict COVID-19 protocols in the laboratories.

“This has not always been easy given the nature of the research and the enforced social distancing rules.  It is, however, testament to their resilience that even under difficult circumstances they have been able to produce high quality research and complete their degrees," he says.

The topics of research ranged from Dr Ndumiso Sibanda's work into developing a novel method to break down lignin – a by-product of the paper manufacturing process; to the development of a reversible hydrogel for application as a male contraceptive by Dr Leanne Kellerman; to Dr Annick van Niekerk's study of the use of metallodrugs as potential anti-cancer agents.

In another study at the interface of chemistry and medicine, Dr Marica Smit investigated the use of polymer-coated magnetic nanoparticles for the treatment of tuberculosis. After being inhaled, the nanoparticles could provide sustained drug release, which opens the path to less frequent drug dosing.

Over the past ten years the Department of Chemistry and Polymer Science have produced on average 13 PhD graduates per year. 

On the photo, from left to right: Drs Rudolf Dreyer, Megan Matthews, Leanne Kellermann, Marica Smit, Ndumiso Sibanda and Joshua Hensberg. Photo: Stefan Els