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UKZN’s College of Agriculture, Engineering and
Science graduated a bumper crop of 98 PhDs,
plus one Honorary DSc.

UKZN’s College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science (CAES) has again made a significant contribution to South Africa’s much-needed brain pool of highly-qualified Science, Technology and Engineering specialists awarding an impressive 98 PhDs out of a University total of 211 during the 2014 Graduation ceremonies. 

In addition, an Honorary Doctor of Science (DSc) degree was awarded to Square Kilometre Array (SKA) Project Director, Dr Bernard Fanaroff, for his outstanding contribution to the promotion of Science and Technology in South Africa.  

UKZN conferred an impressive 10 081 degrees in total at its 21 Graduation ceremonies held on its Westville and Pietermaritzburg campuses.   

A notable 6 282 (62.3 percent) of the graduands were women while 284 graduated cum laude and 117 summa cum laude.  

A total of 4 785 degrees were conferred in the College of Humanities;  1 938 degrees in  CAES;  942 in the College of Health Sciences, and 2 416 in the College of Law and Management Studies. 

The CAES’s 2014 PhD total of 98 is a significant increase over previous years with 76 PhDs being awarded by the College in 2013, 77 in 2012 and 69 in 2011. 

The College’s steady increase in PhD production is in line with UKZN’s strategic imperative to become the leading research-based university in the country.  Marked progress is being made in this regard.   

In terms of the Department of Higher Education and Training’s report on 2012 institutional research output, UKZN moved from third into first place among South Africa’s 23 publicly-funded universities, in terms of the production of research publication units – the measurement system for research output used by the National Research Foundation (NRF).  UKZN produced 1 424.22 research publication units in total. 

PhD research showcased by CAES at the 2014 Graduations produced a rich and varied body of knowledge from that of newly-capped applied mathematician Dr Obiora Collins, who focused his research on developing new mathematical models to understand the dynamics of waterborne diseases; to Dr Julien Fattebert, whose unique and challenging biological study examined the spatial ecology of a KwaZulu-Natal leopard population recovering from over-harvest –  a  study which could greatly impact the design of leopard conservation in southern Africa.   

Dr Nishani Harinarain earned the University’s very first PhD in Construction Management for her research into “effective HIV and AIDS management within the construction sector”, proving that women can succeed in a traditionally male-dominated environment; while Dr Kate Akerman proved herself to be at the cutting edge of chemistry research, with a summa cum laude PhD dissertation that investigated the “use of gold (III) macrocyclic complexes in targeted anti-cancer drug production”.  The new drugs being worked on by Akerman have shown potential to overcome the problem of drug resistance and have been patented. 

Not only does CAES focus on increasing its PhD graduates; it also supports a flourishing post-doctoral research programme.  During 2012, R14 million was spent on supporting 145 post-doctoral researchers – in 2013 there were 185 recruited at a cost of over R18 million. 

Acting Deputy Vice Chancellor and Head of CAES Professor Deo Jaganyi, said: ‘The success of the College is due to the commitment and hard work of its academics, professional staff and its students. It is a pleasure to lead this group of individuals.’