School of Chemistry & Physics

All in the Stars for Prestige Award Winner

Black holes in space are what fascinate Ms Shavani Naicker, a third-year Bachelor of Science student who received a College Deputy Vice-Chancellor’s Scholarship in recognition of her top performance over two or more years of undergraduate study.

Naicker is one of three top ranked undergraduates in the College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science to receive this honour, awarded to students proceeding from second to subsequent years of study.

Now based on the Westville campus, Naicker, who attended Star College Girls’ High School in her home town of Durban, chose to study at UKZN because of its offering of a well-structured astronomy course. She is majoring in Astronomy and Applied Mathematics, choosing these majors because of her passion for Astronomy.

‘I enjoy the sense of curiosity and excitement astronomy brings me as well as the many challenges involved,” she said. “Curiosity is essentially the driving force behind my passion.’

Naicker plans to carry her passion for astronomy into postgraduate studies, and is hoping to progress to a PhD in Astrophysics, focusing her research on black holes.

‘My inspiration stems from the late theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking,’ said Naicker. ‘His book: A Brief History of Time, intrigued me on the topic of black holes.’

The high achiever has worked hard to balance the demands of her academic career with activities that keep her grounded, such as cycling and hiking.

Naicker thanked her family, particularly her parents, for ensuring that she received the high quality education she needed to progress in life and for guiding her and supporting her through the decisions she had made thus far.

Words: Christine Cuénod

Photograph: Rajesh Jantilal