Dr Tamara Govindasamy describes graduation as, ‘a ceremony of recognition for those who have set out to empower themselves through knowledge.’ This could not be truer for Govindasamy herself, who graduated with a PhD in Physics. She completed her PhD while working full-time and managed to complete an online course in computer coding at the same time.
Having initially enrolled at the University of the Witwatersrand, Govindasamy moved back to Pietermaritzburg to look after her younger brother when their parents and grandmother passed away. She enrolled for a BSc with majors in Physics, Applied Maths and Statistics at UKZN. Having found her passion in Physics, she completed an honours degree, followed by a masters and PhD in Atmospheric Physics.
Govindasamy’s PhD focused on the development of a computational model that accurately determines the global solar radiation received at any location in South Africa. Her research allowed for efficient and inexpensive identification of optimal solar capture sites and she hopes the findings will create awareness of alternative renewable energy sources and decrease demand for coal power, thus reducing the cost of electricity as well as greenhouse gas emissions.
Govindasamy’s research was supervised by Professor Naven Chetty, whose constant support and assistance helped her throughout the process. ‘Prof Chetty always encouraged me to expand my thinking,’ said Govindasamy. ‘His guidance has been instrumental in the completion of my studies. He has empowered me with the skills and knowledge I require to move forward in my career and academic path, for which I will always be grateful.’
Govindasamy is currently working at Allan Gray as a communications specialist and is in the process of transitioning into the role of a resource analyst. She describes her time at UKZN as a fundamental part of her life and hopes to continue her work in Atmospheric Physics to promote the development of concentrated solar power.
Chetty’s advice will stand her in good stead: ‘Nothing is impossible. Always go after your goals.’
Words: Pumla Dlamini
Photograph: Abhi Indrarajan