School of Chemistry & Physics

Competition winners from left: Ms Suhayfa Bhamjee, Mr Sylvester Mukono and Ms Mpoi Makhetha.

UKZN Hosts Three-Minute Thesis Competition

UKZN’s Research Office hosted the third annual Three-Minute Thesis Competition for PhD students.

The competition challenges students to present their research findings to lay audiences in an effective way that will broaden societal engagement and increase impact – all in just three minutes!

In his welcome address, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Research and Innovation Professor Mosa Moshabela spoke on science communication as a valuable tool for scientists to reach larger audiences and create a bigger impact.

Moshabela stressed the importance of academics making their work more understandable to society and the public at large, saying: ‘At UKZN we take science communication very seriously and the Corporate Relations Division (CRD) is the gateway for helping our scientists communicate their work to the general public.

‘We are excited to be a part of this venture and trust we will be represented well at the national competition by our winners here.’

Dean of Research in the College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science Professor Neil Koorbanally shared the history of the competition which was created by the University of Queensland in New Zealand. Koorbanally highlighted how students were selected through a University College round and explained how judging was based on the ability of students to stick to one slide and the allocated time of three minutes; their presentation and how their research would appeal to the audience; how they interact with the audience, and whether the audience would understand their research.

The six contestants who took part in the competition were: Mr Kanku Lubale (Study of the Structure of Nanomaterials by Investigating the Properties of Nanoparticles); Mr Ngonidzashe Ruwizhi (Computer-aided Drug Design of Multifunctional Heroatom Metallodrugs as Anticancer Agents); Ms Mpoi Makhetha (The Incredible Tale of Breast Cancer Among Black South Africans); Ms Oluwaseun Ojogiwa (Management of Organisational Cultural Change in the Public Sector: A Perspective of the Public Health Sector in Kwara State); Ms Suhayfa Bhamjee (Death and Dying in a Constitutional Democracy – an Analysis of the Criminal Law and a Call for Law Reform); and Mr Sylvester Mukono (Biofilm Control in Water Supply Pipelines: Application of the Nanoparticles Efficacies of Silver and Copper).

Bhamjee was the winner and also received the People’s Choice Award. Second place went to Mukono while Makhetha was third.

Bhamjee and Mukono will represent UKZN at the National Competition at the University of the Free State in October.

Closing the event, UKZN’s Dean of Research Professor Urmilla Bob thanked the global team who launched the competition, the CRD team, the judges, the PhD students who entered and their supervisors. ‘We have more than 9 000 master’s and PhD students at UKZN and this would not be possible without the efforts of our academic community and supervisors. The breadth and scope of the work presented by the contestants shows how incredibly important research is at UKZN and the impact this will have nationally and globally.’

Bob added: ‘To the winners: We wish you well and we’ll be there to spur you on during the nationals.’

Words: Hlengiwe Khwela

Photographs: Supplied