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The value of waterhttp://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=7040The value of waterWIIDA FOURIE-BASSON<p>Flowing along the foothills of Papegaaiberg in Stellenbosch, the Plankenbrug River runs close to an informal settlement where more than 5500 inhabitants have access to only 150 communal toilets and 57 taps. </p><p>Without adequate water and sanitation services it is not only the people living in Enkanini that are suffering, but also the nearby river. This is why Dr Leanne Seeliger could not sit idly. As a senior research and specialist in environmental ethics at the Stellenbosch University (SU) Water Institute, her research ethos is about impact and effecting change, as quickly as possible. And this is where the educational environmental course Iqhawe Lemvelo (nature hero) comes in. After completing this course, one of the life skills pupils will have is how to handle water and waste in their respective households in informal settlements. </p><p>The course is indeed unique in that it addresses issues that children in informal settlements face daily. As part of the education leg of the Amanzi Yimpilo Project (water is health), a collaborative partnership between the SU Water Institute and the Stellenbosch Municipality, this course aims to initiate community support and collaboration in order to improve water and sanitation services in the community.</p><p><strong>POLLUTION</strong></p><p>Over the past seven years, Leanne has been working in Enkanini, an informal settlement that emerged in 2006 when 47 families broke through a fence from the adjacent Kayamandi township and invaded a piece of land zoned for agriculture. Hence the name “Enkanini", meaning “taken by force". It was only six years later, in 2012, that Enkanini received communal taps and toilets. “Informal is the new normal. Municipalities need to be flexible, creative and innovative in order to deal constructively with informality," she explains. “Until these settlements receive proper water and sanitation services, we will lose the battle to save many of our rivers and ecosystems. This is not only a socio-ecological problem; it has major ramifications in terms of agriculture, food production and general health," she warns. </p><p>Earlier this year, Leanne jumped at the opportunity to put theory into practice when the Stellenbosch Municipality asked for assistance with improving water and sanitation services in Enkanini. The result is the Amanzi Yimpilo Project. Because it is based on the principle of transformative governance, Leanne involves both the community and the municipality in finding solutions. The project includes training workshops for local residents, two water ethics surveys, an environmental education project, and the development of a water monitoring application. </p><p><strong>SURVEY</strong></p><p>Working closely with Paul Roviss Khambule, a social entrepreneur from Kayamandi, they identified and trained a couple of Enkanini residents as co-researchers. Earlier this year, this team surveyed nearly 800 households, trying to understand how they relate to water and sanitation. Another unique aspect of the project is that the team members are employed by the Government's Extended Public Works Programme for the duration of the project. Paul says the survey has already done much to raise awareness in the community. “It is not just about the University coming in and doing research. It is about making the community understand that their actions, such as throwing night soil and waste out onto the road, are harming the community and the environment."</p><p>The team also encourages the community to report blockages directly to the municipality's Let's Fixit line, from where the issue is immediately directed to the relevant department. “On the ground, therefore, dialogue and a more flexible relationship is starting to develop between Enkanini residents and the municipality, with a major drive from the municipality's side to improve water and sanitation infrastructure in the area," says Kamohelo Mculu, project manager with the municipality's Infrastructure Services Division. </p><p>Beyond the immediate concerns of the community and the Plankenbrug River, Leanne is most concerned about the children. This is why, seven years ago, she and a group of concerned citizens worked with the Stellenbosch Municipality to start an environmental education centre in the settlement. Located in two Wendy houses high up on the slopes of Papegaaiberg, the Enkanini Education Centre houses a local crèche and now also serves as the venue for the project's education programme, Iqhawe Lemvelo.</p><p><strong>INTEGRITY</strong></p><p>“Learners from informal settlements are often disadvantaged by a school system that does not cater for their specific needs. We designed a programme to help them to deal with their lives right here and right now. “This is a place-based approach that enables them to learn from their own lived experience," Leanne explains.</p><p>She developed the approach with Prof Chris Reddy from SU's Faculty of Education, and the curriculum covers topics such as dealing with water and recycling waste in your household and community. And while this researcher is well-known in the community for her no-nonsense attitude and pragmatic approach to tackling deeply complex problems, she chokes up when speaking about the harsh realities of poverty and inequality and how it affects children in the informal settlement. </p><p>“My daughter has me, and I can give her all these opportunities. What about the parents who are not able to do the same for their children? It brings me to tears every time I think about it." Ultimately, she believes one cannot put a value on nature: “We cannot take nature for granted. It has intrinsic value in and of itself." And that is why she is a trailblazer for finding new ways to engage with civil society, industry and local government to restore not only the ecological integrity of the Plankenbrug River, but also the dignity of the children playing along its riverbanks.</p><p><strong> More about THE AMANZI YIMPILO PROJECT</strong></p><p>The Amanzi Yimpilo Project (water is health) is an outcome of the Rector and Executive Mayor's Forum, a joint structure that facilitates collaboration between SU and Stellenbosch Municipality to the benefit of the entire town and community. The aim of the project is to research the challenges around water, waste and sanitation services in the community, and how to improve it.</p><p>Published in the Matieland. Read <a href="https://console.virtualpaper.com/stellenbosch-university/matieland-december-2019/#1/">more</a><br></p>
SU mathematician receives SAMS award for excellence in researchhttp://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=7037SU mathematician receives SAMS award for excellence in researchMedia & Communication, Faculty of Science<p>A professor in Applied Mathematics in the Faculty of Science at Stellenbosch University (SU), Prof André Weideman, was awarded the prestigious 2019 Award for Research Distinction by the South African Mathematical Society (SAMS) in recognition of his important contribution to research in Mathematics in South Africa.<br></p><p>The award, in the form of a silver Mobius band, was presented on 3 December 2019 during the annual SAMS 2019 Congress dinner at the University of Cape Town.</p><p>Prof Weideman's research involves the development of fast, stable, and elegant algorithms for solving differential equations and computing of integral transforms and special functions. A software suite that he developed for solving differential equations, for example, is highly cited by researchers in fluid stability and quantum mechanics. Another highly cited paper is on the computation of the plasma dispersion function, a formula used in spectroscopy and astrophysics. </p><p>He is actively involved in the South African Numerical and Applied Mathematics Symposium. Over the past 40 years this annual symposium has acquired a solid international reputation with many well-known speakers attending every year. He is an associate editor for the journals <em>Electronic Transactions of Numerical Analysis </em>and<em> Numerical Algorithms</em> and regularly acts as reviewer for the major journals in numerical analysis and scientific computing. He is a member of the SA Academy for Arts and Sciences, and was elected as a Fellow of the Society of Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM) in 2017. In 2019 he was an invited speaker at the International Congress of Industrial and Applied Mathematics (ICIAM) held in Valencia, Spain. </p><p>Prof Weideman recently completed a research sabbatical at the Isaac Newton Institute for Mathematical Sciences at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom, where he was one of the main organisers of a programme on Complex Analysis.</p><p>Prof Ingrid Rewitzky, Head of the Department of Mathematical Sciences, says this is well-deserved recognition for his outstanding research contributions in the field of numerical analysis and scientific computing.<br></p><p><br></p>
Du Plessis recognised for expertise in advanced manufacturinghttp://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=7036Du Plessis recognised for expertise in advanced manufacturingMedia & Communication, Faculty of Science<p>An expert in 3D technologies at Stellenbosch University, Prof Anton du Plessis, was recently recognised by the Department of Trade and Industry for his contributions towards leading South Africa into the Fourth Industrial Revolution.<br></p><p>The African Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Awards, part of the annual African Advanced Manufacturing and Composites Show, promotes and rewards innovation in the advanced manufacturing and composites industries, which includes all forms of advanced manufacturing technologies including 3D printing, robotics, Artificial Intelligence and automation. </p><p>During a special awards ceremony at Port Elizabeth on 27 November 2019, Prof Du Plessis received the gold award in the category “Scholarly Impact in Advanced Manufacturing". According to a media release issued by DTI, the high standard of entries for the awards was an indication of South Africa's capability to operate and excel in 4ir technologies.</p><p>Prof du Plessis' research focuses on metal additive manufacturing (metal 3D printing) and its structural integrity: “I work on new testing methods and improvements in processes that will allow for higher quality parts to be produced with this disruptive technology. It is critical to understand the effect of various defect types to improve the quality and mechanical performance of the parts," he explains.</p><p>He also explores new design concepts for additive manufacturing, especially the production of very complex parts: “We can learn from nature to develop unique new materials. In our group we look to natural structures and attempt to reveal design rules which can be applied to practical engineering applications."</p><p>He has published more than 30 articles in manufacturing-related publications in the last 3 years, including a series of review articles.</p><p>“I am excited about the role that additive manufacturing will play in the fourth industrial revolution and hope to make an impact in this area," he concludes.</p><p>For more about his research group, 3D Innovation, click here <a href="http://blogs.sun.ac.za/duplessis">http://blogs.sun.ac.za/duplessis</a> </p><p><em>On the photo, Prof Anton du Plessis from Stellenbosch University receiving his award from Irish Tshifhiwa Bologo, Chief Operating Officer (COO) Special Economic Zones and Economic Transformation in the Department of Trade and Industry, during the awards ceremony in Port Elizabeth, 27 November 2019.</em></p><p><br></p>
SciMathUS offers a second chance at achieving dreams http://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=7002SciMathUS offers a second chance at achieving dreams Asiphe Nombewu /Corporate Communication<p>​​​A second chance, coupled with hard work and the determination to succeed, has seen Phumeza Gova, a beneficiary of the SciMathUS programme, take to the stage twice during Stellenbosch University's December 2019 Graduation Week.<br></p><p>Gova was awarded a BSc Degree in Geology during the Faculty of Science graduation, and this evening she will receive a Post Graduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) during the Faculty of Education graduation ceremony.</p><p>Gova is one of many students who have been given a second chance to succeed through the SciMathUS programme. An initiative of Stellenbosch University (SU), the programme offers learners who have already passed Grade 12 (with an average of at least 60%) but who do not qualify for higher education, a second opportunity to improve their NSC results in specific subjects to enable them to re-apply for university programmes.  </p><p>Thanks to the support of a teacher who advocated for the SU SciMathUs programme, the 27-year old, who hails from Delft, took the train to Stellenbosch in January of 2011 to enquire and apply for the programme.</p><p>“After one year at SciMathUS, I was unstoppable in Maths and Physical Science, but I struggled with academic literacy a lot – and failed twice. However, giving up was never an option because I was the only person in my family who had the opportunity to go to university.</p><p>“I failed in 2013 and again in 2014, but strangely enough there were still people who believed in me – people who wanted to see me succeed," recalls Gova.</p><p>One of these individuals were Nokwanda Siyengo, Director at SciMathUS, who Gova says believed in her even when she did not believe in herself. </p><p>Although Gova moved on to pursue her studies in the Faculty of Science, she kept close ties with SciMathUS and became a mentor in 2019.</p><p>“Being part of the SciMathUS programme meant I knew what students in the programme struggled with," Gova says.</p><p>The graduate now has her sights set on finding employment and taking care of her family. “I want to make my mother proud; she has been patient with me and believed in me even when I was failing." <br></p><p><br></p>
Search for new drugs motivates Malawian biochemist’s doctoral studieshttp://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=7005Search for new drugs motivates Malawian biochemist’s doctoral studiesWiida Fourie-Basson<p style="text-align:justify;">An interest in the discovery of new drugs to combat the scourge of infectious diseases in Malawi, has inspired Dr Collins Edward Jana since 2008 to persist in his efforts to finally obtain a PhD in Biochemistry from Stellenbosch University (SU).<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">He is one of 27 PhD-graduates in the Faculty of Science to receive their degrees at the 11 December 2019 graduation ceremony.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Dr Jana, currently a researcher and lecturer at the University of Malawi's College of Medicine, plans to establish a research group in drug-discovery with the support of his study leader and mentor of the past ten years, Prof Erick Strauss from SU's Department of Biochemistry.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Dr Jana's research focused on a new class of antimicrobial compounds, called PanSulfAms, which are based on a well-established strategy of using analogues of vitamins as antibiotics. This strategy originally led to the discovery of the first synthetic antibiotics, some of which are still used clinically today.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">According to Prof Strauss, there is an urgent need for the development of new antimicrobials: “In Dr Jana's investigation he determined the biological mechanism of action of the PanSulfAms, and established the basis for their selectivity against the bacterium <em>Staphylococcus aureus</em>, a growing threat in hospital-acquired infections."</p><p style="text-align:justify;">He believes a lot more should be done to establish a critical mass of researchers in Africa, but it takes time, funding and often major sacrifices on the part of the students, who has to leave family behind to pursue postgraduate opportunities in other countries.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Dr Jana's academic journey began in 2000 when he graduated with a BSc-degree in chemistry and botany at the Islamic University in Uganda. In 2003 he was appointed as an associate lecturer in biochemistry at the University of Malawi's College of Medicine. On advice from his then Head of Department, Prof Edward Senga, he decided to continue in this field, despite the fact that no institution in Malawi had the capacity or expertise to offer a higher degree in that field.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Five years later, his big break came when he obtained a scholarship from the Norwegian Government to pursue postgraduate opportunities in biochemistry at any institution in Norway, Malawi or Africa.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">It was while searching online for a suitable institution that he stumbled upon SU's Department of Biochemistry: “I was impressed by the department's high-quality research output and the university's international ranking. And given the fact that Malawi is one of the countries that is hardest hit by infectious diseases, I also wanted to join a research group with a focus on discovering new drugs," he explains.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">That was the start of a ten-year long journey, leaving behind a wife and young child for long periods of time, and often struggling to complete his research within the time specified by various funders. But it was also the opportunity of a lifetime to work with “amazing and memorable researchers", and making new friends in Stellenbosch.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">He completed his BScHons-degree in 2008 and an MSc-degree in biochemistry in 2011, under the guidance of Prof Strauss. But it took another four years before he could return for his PhD: “I had to return to Malawi in 2012 since the conditions of the scholarship required that I should serve my College for two to three years before proceeding with a PhD. However, I ended up staying in Malawi for four years because of understaffing in my department at the time."</p><p style="text-align:justify;">When the situation improved, he was released to enrol for his PhD in July 2015. Without adequate funding, however, he had to rely on additional funding from Prof Strauss' research group to finance his travels and upkeep. In 2016 he finally succeeded in obtaining a three-year scholarship from the Malawian Government.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Yet again, the funding ended before the lab work was finalised, and he still had to write-up and complete his thesis: “It was hard! There were times I thought I would never be able to graduate. But once again, my thanks go out to Prof Strauss who remained supportive during these times."</p><p style="text-align:justify;">As a researcher and full-time lecturer at the College of Medicine, Dr Jana says he is trying to devote at least 30% of his time to research, in between lecturing and the supervision of research projects: “I want to establish my own research group at the College, whilst collaborating with SU and other institutions. My ultimate goal is to become a professor in biochemistry," he concludes.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">To students in a similar situation, his advice is: “One should know that the journey towards achieving your goals is not always straightforward. Focus, determination, hard work, perseverance and communication are essential. Challenges are part of life, and not necessarily a limitation. Stay positive!"<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;"><em>On the photo, Prof Erick Strauss with Dr Collins Jana after the December 2019 graduation ceremony at SU. Photo: Wiida Basson</em><br></p><p style="text-align:justify;"><strong>Only for media enquiries</strong></p><p style="text-align:justify;">Prof Erick Straus</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Tel: +27 _21 808-5866/5861</p><p style="text-align:justify;">E-mail: <a href="mailto:estrauss@sun.ac.za">estrauss@sun.ac.za</a></p><p style="text-align:justify;"> </p><p style="text-align:justify;">Dr Collins Jana</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Tel: +265-1-871911</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Mobile: +265-888851520</p><p style="text-align:justify;">E-mail: cjana@medcol.mw<br></p><p><br></p>
Maties’ PhD tackles theory of neural network designhttp://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=7006Maties’ PhD tackles theory of neural network designWiida Fourie-Basson<p>Why do certain approaches work better than others when designing and training deep neural networks? <br></p><p>With this question in mind, a PhD Computer Science student from Stellenbosch leveraged his background in mathematical statistics to provide a deeper theoretical understanding of what's happening behind the scenes when these networks train successfully - and why they often don't!</p><p>This hard-earned expertise has already landed <a href="https://arnupretorius.github.io/">Dr Arnu Pretorius</a> the position of research scientist at the newly-established <a href="https://www.eu-startups.com/2019/05/founded-in-tunisia-london-based-instadeep-raises-e6-3-million-for-its-ai-based-enterprise-decision-making-platform/">InstaDeep</a> office in Cape Town. Founded in Tunisia and based in London, the company specialises in the development of highly innovative machine learning algorithms and their use in cutting-edge applications. One of InstaDeep's latest innovations, for example, is the result of a joint research project with <a href="https://deepmind.com/">DeepMind</a>, one of the top Artificial Intelligence (AI) labs in the world. </p><p>Pretorius was also the only student from an African institution to present a paper at the <a href="https://icml.cc/">International Conference for Machine Learning</a> in Sweden in 2018, and in 2019 he presented at the <a href="https://nips.cc/">Neural Information Processing Systems</a> (NeurIPS) conference in Canada. These two conferences are among the world's largest gatherings for experts in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML).</p><p>Pretorius, who will be receiving his PhD in Computer Science at SU's December 2019 graduation ceremony, says he became interested in machine learning while studying in the former MIH Media Lab with a NASPERS bursary: “Machine learning and neural networks, a subfield of ML, involve a wonderful coming together of different ideas with their origin in statistics, applied mathematics, engineering, physics and computer science. And you can apply these to solve relevant and practical problems," he explains.</p><p>But he soon came to realise that there was limited theoretical understanding of exactly why and how certain algorithms worked better than others.</p><p>After completing his MComm in mathematical statistics (<em>cum laude</em>), he approached <a href="/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=6478">Dr Steve Kroon</a> in the <a href="http://www.cs.sun.ac.za/~kroon/">Computer Science Division</a> with his idea of making a theoretical contribution to the field. With a PhD in mathematical statistics, Dr Kroon's research in machine learning and artificial intelligence focuses on neural networks, Bayesian methods, and adversarial search.</p><p>Dr Kroon is also part of the <a href="https://mml.sun.ac.za/">Maties Machine Learning</a> group, and participated in the first two <a href="http://www.deeplearningindaba.com/">Deep Learning Indabas</a> that took place in Africa from 2017-2018. The aim of the Deep Learning Indaba is to provide a platform for students and researchers interested in machine learning and Artificial Intelligence to learn from the best in the world, and to share ideas and best practice from diverse fields.</p><p>Pretorius attended all three Indabas so far, in time becoming a mentor and running practical sessions: “I have learned so much at these gatherings, met wonderful new people and made new friends. Mentorship from the Indaba community has had a huge impact on my career thus far. If it weren't for the Indabas, I would not have been where I am now."</p><p>It was at the 2018 Deep Learning Indaba in Stellenbosch that he met the co-founder and CEO of InstaDeep, <a href="https://www.linkedin.com/in/karim-beguir-2350161/?originalSubdomain=uk">Karim Beguir</a>. “He is passionate about machine learning's potential in Africa – both in terms of its application and the people. I was personally very inspired by his vision for the future of the continent."</p><p>As a research scientist at InstaDeep, Pretorius plans to maintain contact with machine learning groups at SU and other institutions: “It is so exciting to know that South Africans will have the opportunity to work on high profile projects in their own country."</p><p>His advice to students in this field? “Be prepared to work incredibly hard. This is such an interesting field, but it takes an enormous effort to stay up to date. AI technology is changing incredibly fast, and you need to stay on top of the latest developments. That said, the field is also highly stimulating and rewarding, so it's definitely worth your while!"</p><p>Pretorius will receive his PhD degree at Stellenbosch University's December graduation ceremony this week, together with another 28 PhD, 26 MSc and 145 BScHons-graduates from SU's Faculty of Science. Pretorius' research was supported by a bursary from the Centre for Artificial Intelligence Research (CAIR) and a Harry Crossley postgraduate scholarship, both from SU.<br></p><p><em>On the photo above, Dr Steve Kroon and Dr Arnu Pretorius after the December 2019 graduation ceremony at SU. Photo: Stefan Els</em><br></p><p><strong>Media enquiries </strong></p><p>Dr Steve Kroon</p><p>Computer Science Division, Stellenbosch University</p><p>Tel: 021 808 9375/4232</p><p>E-mail: kroon@sun.ac.za</p><p> </p><p>Dr Arnu Pretorius</p><p>Research scientist, InstaDeep</p><p>E-mail: arnupretorius@gmail.com<br></p><p><br></p>
Sarah Selkirk awarded prestigious S2A3 medal for best MSc student at SUhttp://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=7007Sarah Selkirk awarded prestigious S2A3 medal for best MSc student at SUMedia & Communication, Faculty of Science<p>An MSc student in Mathematics, Sarah Selkirk, is the worthy recipient of the prestigious S<sub>2</sub>A<sub>3</sub> medal for the best MSc student at Stellenbosch University (SU) in the natural, engineering and medical sciences.</p><p>The <a href="http://www.s2a3.org.za/joomla/index.php/awards/mastersmedalrecipients">S<sub>2</sub>A<sub>3</sub> Masters Medals (bronze)</a> have been awarded annually since 1981 by the <a href="http://s2a3.org.za/joomla/index.php">Southern Africa Association for the Advancement of Science</a> to the most outstanding research student in a scientific subject per South African university. Founded in 1902, it is the oldest scientific organisation in South Africa.</p><p>Selkirk worked largely independently to complete her MSc thesis in only one year, with two papers resulting from her mostly original work already accepted for publication. She leaves for Austria in January 2020, where she will continue with her doctoral research in the field of combinatorics at the University of Klagenfurt.</p><p>Prof Ingrid Rewitzky, head of SU's Department of Mathematical Sciences, says Selkirk's MSc thesis is rare in a discipline such as mathematics, where original research is only expected at doctoral level.</p><p>According to her study leader, Prof Stephan Wagner, large parts of her thesis were entirely her own idea and worked out completely by her: “Within the short time span of one year, she managed to familiarise herself with a number of ideas, concepts and methods in lattice path enumeration, and wrote a well-rounded thesis, largely consisting of original work."</p><p>Selkirk's thesis investigates different aspects of lattice path enumerations. These are combinatorial objects which can be used in fields such as probability theory, statistics and computer science. By studying lattice paths, we can better understand and analyse dynamic data structures, which are fundamental to almost every piece of technology we use today – from storing files on a computer to using an online search engine. </p><p>In addition to Selkirk's academic achievement, she has also been actively involved in the Mathematics Division as a tutorial assistant for first and second year mathematics students. During 2019 she was a member of the organising committee for the African Women in Mathematics Conference hosted at SU in July 2019, and she founded the Stellenbosch University Mathematics Society (SUMS) which organises weekly mathematics seminars for undergraduate students.</p><p>Selkirk received numerous awards during her time at SU. In 2016 she was one of the top 32 first year students at SU and the top performing first year student in the Faculty of Science. In 2018 she was the recipient of the SU Rector's Award for academic achievement throughout her undergraduate studies, and in 2019 she was awarded one of three TATA masters scholarships at the South African Women in Science Awards.</p><p>This former learner from <a href="http://www.hphs.co.za/">Hudson Park High School</a> in East London says she enjoys doing mathematics and working on her thesis did not feel like work: “I believe in Parkinson's Law, that work will expand so as to fill the time available for its completion. So I set the goal of doing my MSc in one year and worked to try and achieve this."</p><p>She also thanked her study leaders, Prof Stephan Wagner and Prof Helmut Prodinger, for all the time and effort they have invested in her, and her parents Caroline and Wayne Selkirk for their support and encouragement.<br></p><p><em>Photo: Stefan Els</em><br></p>
More than 600 degrees in the natural sciences awarded at SU’s December graduationhttp://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=7009More than 600 degrees in the natural sciences awarded at SU’s December graduationWiida Fourie-Basson<p>​​​Dressed in traditional Zulu-attire, Maties student Menzi Ngcamphalalala today proudly walked across the stage to receive his MSc degree in Mathematics. He was one of the more than 600 graduate and postgraduate students in the natural sciences who received their degrees during Stellenbosch University's fifth graduation ceremony on 11 December 2019.<br></p><p>Amongst these were a whopping nine PhDs in Chemistry and Polymer Science, while another 29 students received their MSc-degrees in Mathematics as part of the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences' (AIMS) programme. All in all, the Faculty of Science awarded 390 BSc, 145 BScHons, 55 MSc and 29 PhD degrees. <br></p><p>Another MSc student in Mathematics, <a href="/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=7007">Sarah Selkirk​</a>, was also awarded the prestigous S2A3 medal (bronze) of the Southern African Association for the Advancement of Science (SAAAS) for the best MSc student at Stellenbosch University across the natural, engineering and medical sciences.<br></p><p>Prof Louise Warnich, Dean of SU's Faculty of Science, says she is grateful for the hard work put in by lecturers, study leaders and students, despite the many challenges faced by higher education institutions in South Africa. Since 2015, the Faculty of Science has consistently produced more than 300 postgraduate students per year, and it seems the year 2019 will be no exception.</p><p>“Our graduandi continue to make important contributions to the private and public sectors in South Africa, many of them as leaders and entrepreneurs. I am confident that the class of 2019 will follow in their footsteps and apply their hard-earned, high-level skills for the advantage and development of our society."</p><p>Some of the highlights from this year's graduandi include a PhD in Biochemistry awarded to <a href="/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=7005">Dr Collins Jana</a>, currently a lecturer at the University of Malawi's College of Medicine. Back in 2014, when he embarked on a career focusing on research into the development of new drugs to fight infectious diseases, there were no higher education institutions in Malawi offering postgraduate options in biochemistry. That was the start of a ten-year long journey as a postgraduate student in the research group of Prof Erick Strauss in SU's Department of Biochemistry.</p><p>Another highlight is the achievement of Dr Upenyu Lucky Muza, who not only earned a PhD in Chemistry under the supervision of Prof Harald Pasch, but in August this year he was one of only five postgraduate students nation-wide to receive the <a href="http://www.saci.co.za/saci_awards.html">SASOL Postgraduate Medal</a> from the South African Chemical Institute (SACI), awarded to postgraduate students who are innovative, entrepreneurial and independent. Formerly from Zimbabwe, he is off to Europe next year for a postdoctoral fellowship.<br></p><p>Another highlight is a PhD in Computer Science awarded to Dr Arnu Pretorius, who entered the field of machine learning and deep neural networks with a background in statistical mathematics. While many regard algorithms more as an art than a science, he developed a more principled design process in which decision are guided by theoretical developments. <a href="/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=7006">Read more​</a> about his work with study leader Dr Steve Kroon from the Computer Science Division in the Faculty of Science.</p><p>The Department of Botany and Zoology also made their mark this year, with five PhD-students graduating. Dr Luyanda Ndlela isolated and characterized three predatory bacteria that may one day become pivotal in finding natural treatments for toxic algal blooms; Dr Olivier Pasnin, a research scientist at the Mauritius Oceanography Institute, did the first phylogenetic analysis of sponges in the Western Ocean, thereby contributing to improved marine conservation practices. Other PhD graduates looked at the evolutionary history and taxonomy of parasitoid wasps, the drivers of Prosopis invasions in Eastern Africa, and the role of marine predators in regulating invasions.</p><p>Another three PhDs were awarded in Physics, three in Mathematical Science, two in Physiological Sciences and one each in Applied Mathematics and Microbiology</p><p><em>Photos: Stefan Els</em></p>
Record number of qualifications to be awarded at SU December 2019 graduationhttp://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=6980Record number of qualifications to be awarded at SU December 2019 graduationCorporate Communication<p>​​Acclaimed South African actor, director and playwright Bonisile John Kani will be awarded an honorary doctorate by Stellenbosch University (SU) during its December 2019 graduation.<br></p><p>Kani will receive the degree Doctor of Philosophy (DPhil), <em>honoris causa</em>, in recognition of his 50-year internationally-acclaimed career in the performing arts and playwriting, for his unwavering commitment to ensure that young people have access to the performing arts and for using the arts as a tool to educate, develop communities and give a voice to the oppressed.</p><p>Kani has written and starred in several plays, with his most recent international successes including films such as <em>Black Panther</em> (2018), <em>The Lion King </em>(2019) and <em>Murder Mystery</em> (2019). </p><p>This year the University will again award a record number of qualifications (degrees, diplomas and certificates) at its December 2019 graduation ceremonies – 5 853 compared to 5 769 in December 2018. There is also an increase in the number of doctorates – 154 compared to 149 in December 2018. </p><p>At the ceremonies, the University will also give recognition to some of its foremost academics and other staff members with the awarding of the SU Chancellor's Awards. </p><p>Nine ceremonies are to be held in the Coetzenburg Centre in Stellenbosch from Monday 9 to Friday 13 December 2019.  Kani is to receive the honorary doctorate on Friday 13 December at 10:00.</p><p><strong>The schedule of the December graduation ceremonies </strong><strong><em>are</em></strong><strong> as follow:</strong></p><ul><li>Monday, 9 December 2019 (10:00): Faculties of Theology and Engineering</li><li>Monday, 9 December 2019 (17:30): Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences <strong>(Group A)</strong></li><li>Tuesday, 10 December 2019 (10:00): Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences <strong>(All programmes excluding PG Diplomas)</strong></li><li>Tuesday, 10 December 2019 (17:30): Faculties of Economic and Management Sciences <strong>(Group B)</strong><br> and Medicine and Health Sciences <strong>(only PG Diplomas)</strong></li><li>Wednesday, 11 December 2019 (10:00): Faculty of Science</li><li>Wednesday, 11 December 2019 (17:30): Faculties of Education and Military Science</li><li>Thursday, 12 December 2019 (10:00): Faculties of Arts and Social Sciences <strong>(Group A)</strong>, AgriSciences<br> and Law <strong>(excluding BA Law, BCom Law and BAccLLB)</strong></li><li>Thursday, 12 December 2019 (17:30): Faculties Economic and Management Sciences <strong>(Group C)</strong></li><li>Friday, 13 December 2019 (10:00): Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences <strong>(Group B)</strong></li></ul><p><strong>Streaming: </strong>All the graduation ceremonies can be followed live on the internet at <a href="/streaming">www.sun.ac.za/streaming</a>.</p><p><strong>MORE ABOUT BONISILE JOHN KANI</strong><br></p><p>John Kani's commitment to using the performing arts as a tool for education, community and an expression for the oppressed would become one of the bedrocks of a much-celebrated career spanning some 50 years. </p><p>Bonisile John Kani was born in New Brighton, Port Elizabeth, on 30 August 1943. His connection to drama, which started in school, continued after he matriculated. </p><p>As a young black man growing up in apartheid South Africa, his first desire had always been to be part of the struggle. His need to tell the stories of the oppressed and to see the effect they had on people developed his deeply held belief that theatre was a powerful tool for change and would become the catalyst for all of his work, acting, directing and writing. </p><p>In 1965 he joined the Serpent Players where his association and friendship with Winston Ntshona and Atholl Fugard started. In 1972 Kani, Fugard and Ntshona developed the seminal <em>Sizwe Banzi is Dead</em> and in 1973, they created and produced <em>The Island</em>. They took both plays to local and international stages and in 1974 Kani and Ntshona both won the coveted Tony Award for Best Actor in these two plays. </p><p>In 1977, Kani and Barney Simon established The Market Theatre, which focused equally on theatrical work and social upliftment. In 1990 they also founded The Market Theatre Laboratory, giving young people from marginalised circumstances the opportunity to study the performing arts. </p><p>In 1982, Kani and Sandra Prinsloo shook the very foundations of white South African society when they kissed on stage in Strindberg's <em>Miss Julie</em> at the Baxter Theatre. In 1987, he became the first black South African to play Othello in South Africa in 1987. </p><p>Kani has written and starred in three plays: <em>Nothing but the Truth</em> (2002), Missing (2014) and <em>Kunene and the King</em> (2018). All three deal with deeply difficult South African themes of forgiveness, exile, isolation, identity and loss. </p><p>Kani holds four honorary degrees and his long list of awards include the Hiroshima Prize for Peace from the Swedish Academy, the Olive Schreiner Prize and the South African Film and Television Lifetime Achievement Award. <br></p><p><strong>IMPORTANT NOTES TO THE MEDIA:</strong></p><ul><li><strong>Photos and Video: </strong>Due to security and other measures taken, members of the media should please give an indication of attending one or more of the ceremonies. Please note that the stage area is very small and that photography and videography is contracted to a private service provider. Any requests for photos and videos should be communicated well in advance to the Media Office (tel 021 808 4921 or <a href="mailto:media@sun.ac.za">media@sun.ac.za</a>)  </li></ul><p>The University can unfortunately not guarantee the availability of the recipient of the honorary degree for interviews, but please liaise with the Media Office as soon as possible.<br></p><p><br></p>
Grade 7 learner wins new high school uniform in recyclable waste challengehttp://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=6969Grade 7 learner wins new high school uniform in recyclable waste challengeWiida Fourie-Basson<p>A Grade 7 learner from Kayamandi Primary School has earned himself a brand new high school uniform from De Jagers in Stellenbosch after he won a recyclable waste collection challenge in Enkanini.<br></p><p>Liyahluma Peteni (15) is one of 11 learners who participated in the challenge as part of an environmental education project called Iqhawe Yemvelo (Nature Hero). The project equips learners from informal settlements to deal with water and waste challenges in their immediate environment. It forms the educational arm of the Amanzi Yimpilo (Water is Health) project, a collaborative effort between the Stellenbosch University Water Institute (SUWI) and Stellenbosch Municipality to improve municipal water, waste and sanitation services in Enkanini. </p><p>Dr Leanne Seeliger, senior researcher at SUWI and project leader, says they would like to see the uniform for waste programme become adopted by individual schools in Kayamandi: “We want to encourage more sponsors to come on board so that recyclables become a commodity that families can use to buy school uniforms. Not only will this assist the parents, but it will also help to clean up the streets and the rivers in the area."</p><p>Depending on how much recyclables they collected, the other learners received items such as a pair of school shoes, school shirts and pants, also sponsored by De Jagers.</p><p>Mr Devon Strauss, manager of De Jagers' Stellenbosch branch, says they are more than happy to kick-start such a worthy initiative in this way: "Liyahluma Peteni and his friends have instantly improved their community through their actions and they can be very proud of what they have done. We are honoured to contribute to such and exciting project." ​<br></p><p>The young learner's mother, Mrs Ntombesizwe Peteni, says she is very proud of her son, as he even went to the river and the bushes to collect more waste in order to win.<br></p><p>Mr Saliem Haider, manager of the solid waste division at Stellenbosch Municipality, congratulated the learners and thanked De Jagers for their generous contribution.</p><p>Mr Lwando Bottomane, a waste entrepreneur from Kayamandi and part of the Amanzi Yimpilo team, says more waste can be collected if they had access to appropriate containers at the local schools. </p><p>For more information, or to become involved in the waste initiative, contact Mr Bottomane at 060 407 9676 or <a href="mailto:lbhobhoyi@gmail.com">lbhobhoyi@gmail.com</a></p><p><strong>On the photo: </strong>Liyahluma Peteni (15), a Grade 7 learner from Kayamandi Primary School, collected his high school uniform from De Jagers in Stellenbosch this week, after winning the waste collection challenge in Enkanini. On the photo, from left to right, Mrs Ntombesizwe Peteni and her son, Liyahluma Peteni, with Dr Leanne Seeliger (SUWI). At the back, Mr Lwando Bottomane and Ms Nasiphi Mgqwetno (Amanzi Yimpile), Mr Saliem Haider (Stellenbosch Municipality) and Mr Divan Strauss (De Jagers). <em>Photo: Wiida Basson</em></p><p><br></p>