Science & Technology 2018

Dr Lusisizwe Kwezi (33)

Dr Lusisizwe Kwezi (33)

Senior research scientist, CSIR

As a youngster, Lusisizwe Kwezi was a reclusive child, and that gave him the chance to be inventive and imaginative. His childhood in the Eastern Cape was backgrounded by lots of books as his mom was an avid reader, while his dad was an English and natural sciences...

Madichaba Chelopo-Mgobozi (30)

Madichaba Chelopo-Mgobozi (30)

PHD in Pharmaceutical Chemistry

As a child Madichaba Chelopo-Mgobozi used to think that the successful people in the world were the ones on TV. Despite the gendered nature of Stem fields, she easily gravitated towards biochemistry and did not let the fact that she was outnumbered deter her....

Ntwanano Sipho Mapfumari (26)

Ntwanano Sipho Mapfumari (26)

Part-time lecturer and PhD candidate, Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University

A Kwame Nkrumah quote — “Those who would judge us merely by the heights we have achieved would do well to remember the depths from which we started” — is one Ntwanano Sipho Mapfumari keeps on his mind all the time. At just 26, Mapfumari has reached some heady heights....

Christine de Kock (25)

Christine de Kock (25)

Artificial Intelligence engineer, Media24

What do you do when you start your career as an Artificial Intelligence (AI) engineer at the Square Kilometre Array (SKA)and do research on the use of AI for astronomical discovery in terabyte scale data? You leave to study an MSc in Artificial Intelligence at the...

Matthew Westaway (26)

Matthew Westaway (26)

Co-founder and chief executive, Voyc.ai

After completing a MSc in Engineering and the Advanced Programme in Design Thinking at the Hasso Plattner Institute at the University of Cape Town, Matthew Westaway is geared towards solution finding. In this world of AI and blockchain technology that few understand,...

Nicholas Tsila (31)

Nicholas Tsila (31)

Explosive researcher, CSIR

“I am an entrepreneur and realist at heart, always looking at how to improve things around me and recognising opportunities they present,” says Nicholas Tsila, explosive researcher for the CSIR. He hails from Kabokweni — a small township near Nelspruit, Mpumalanga —...

Dr Pradeep Kumar (34)

Dr Pradeep Kumar (34)

Senior lecturer, Wits University

It was while at high school, participating in science fairs and mathematics olympiads that Dr Pradeep Kumar discovered his passions. “One project I clearly remember involved the live food adulteration detection and presentation. I was really fascinated as to how...

Mpho Mtsi (30)

Mpho Mtsi (30)

Analyst, Tamela Holdings

In these times of high unemployment among vulnerable groups, and as migration towards cities intensifies, there are those who see the potential that small business and rural communities can harness through entrepreneurship. Mpho Mtsi is an actuary by profession, with...

Dr Thulwaneng Mashifane (33)

Dr Thulwaneng Mashifane (33)

Postdoctoral research fellow, South African Environmental Observation Network

Dr Thulwaneng Mashifane studied for a PhD in Ocean and Atmosphere Science at UCT and graduated in 2017. His social media was flooded with congratulations, as he was the first black South African to obtain a PhD in this field. According to research, South Africa has...

Sinethemba “Nombala” Makanya (31)

Sinethemba “Nombala” Makanya (31)

Science communicator and PhD student, Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research

Part of Sinethemba Makanya’s journey has been undertaking training to practice as a traditional healer. It is this journey, she believes, that led her to enrol for a PhD in Medical Humanities at Wits in 2015 on the topic of demystifying traditional healing by writing...

Dr Veve Dladla (28)

Dr Veve Dladla (28)

Research officer, Sugar Milling Research Institute

It takes a stack of determination and a ton of passion to emerge from a family of 21 children to become a scientist with a doctorate in chemical engineering, and that is exactly what Dr Vezekile “Veve” Dladla did. She managed to complete her matric in spite of the...

Simangele Mbali Msweli (24)

Simangele Mbali Msweli (24)

MSc candidate (biological sciences), University of KwaZulu-Natal

Simangele Msweli is a science student who plays a role in translating science to a non-science audience and in using science to influence policy. Biodiversity, the initial interest of the young scientist, is not distributed evenly on Earth; it is richest in the...

Grace Nomthandazo Ngubeni (28)

Grace Nomthandazo Ngubeni (28)

Associate lecturer and PhD candidate, Wits University

Grace Ngubeni is a bright young mind completing a PhD and changing the world for the better. She has studied a postgraduate degree at Rhodes University, published two scientific papers, and received numerous awards during her research career. She has also received the...

Sindiswa Lukhele (30)

Sindiswa Lukhele (30)

PhD candidate, University of the Witwatersrand

It was an allergic reaction as a child that ignited Sindiswa Lukhele’s passion for medicine and research. “I came across an encyclopaedia in my mother’s books that focused on different diseases and how to treat them. Following multiple doctors’ appointments, I had to...

Innocentia Mahlangu (28)

Innocentia Mahlangu (28)

Civil engineer and project manager, Hatch Africa

Innocentia Mahlangu is a civil engineer who specialises in the design and implementation of railway infrastructure projects. In an environment dominated by men, she is one of very few female construction managers to have overseen the construction of a...

Takunda Mambo (29)

Takunda Mambo (29)

Research lead, Trustlab Blockchain Innovation Studio

As a research and development lead for Trustlab Blockchain Innovation Studio, Takunda Mambo’s role is centred around addressing the neglect that faces early childhood development (ECD) in South Africa. This done through a Unicef-backed project startup called Amply....

Jeshika Ramchund, PrEng (32)

Jeshika Ramchund, PrEng (32)

Senior engineer, Developments, Bosch Projects (Pty) Ltd

Jeshika Ramchund is a professional civil engineer with a BSc in civil engineering from the University of KwaZulu-Natal. She is a member of the FIDIC (International Federation of Consulting Engineers) Young Professionals Forum (YPF) Steering Committee and is the...

Dr Sahba Nomvula Besharati (31)

Dr Sahba Nomvula Besharati (31)

Neuroscientist, Wits University and King’s College London

‘The passion I have from my work as a neuroscientist and for my family comes from the same source: my belief, as a Baha’i, that the main purpose of our lives is to be of service to others and work towards shaping an ever advancing society,” says Dr Sahba Nomvula...

Kgomotso Setlhapelo (33)

Kgomotso Setlhapelo (33)

Chief engineer (telecommunications technology & support), Eskom

Kgomotso Setlhapelo’s upbringing has shaped the person he is today. When Krugersdorp Town School rejected him several times due to the quota system of the 1990s, he and his father, who had spent a period in exile under apartheid, challenged the school’s reasoning that...

Safiyyah Iqbal (27)

Safiyyah Iqbal (27)

PhD candidate, Wits University

Citing her parents as her main driving force, Safiyyah Iqbal says her proudest moment was, “seeing my parents smile as I graduated for my BSc, BSc honours and MSc” degrees. “They have always believed in my capabilities and as they have been my role models, they have...

Dr Aletta Esterhuyse Millen (34)

Dr Aletta Esterhuyse Millen (34)

Associate professor in Physiology, Wits University

Four years after obtaining her PhD, Dr Aletta Millen was promoted to associate professor in physiology at Wits University, and has established herself as a highly motivated and driven scientist. Millen has established a unique study in which she is elucidating the...

Ruby-Anne Birin (23)

Ruby-Anne Birin (23)

Archaeologist and Optical Stimulated Luminescence Dating specialist, Wits University

“When I was 17, I went to Oxford on a programme designed for high school children. There I studied classical civilisations and was exposed to archaeology properly, for the first time. This trip shaped the way I saw the world and defined much of what I would accomplish...

Apiwe Hotele (26)

Apiwe Hotele joined the South African Radio Astronomy Observatory (Sarao) in 2015 as a junior science processing developer, and is now permanently employed there as a technology commercialisation specialist. Hotele holds a BSc in Computer Science and Biochemistry cum...

Vusani Mandiwana (32)

Vusani Mandiwana (32)

PhD research scientist, CSIR

Vusani Mandiwana was born and raised in the rural village of Ha-Mandiwana, Nzhelele, Limpopo and is a PhD (Pharmaceutics) research candidate as well as being one of the youngest women deputy chairpersons of the Gauteng Alumni Chapter Committee for the University of...

Pule Segale (32)

Pule Segale (32)

Civil engineer and construction site manager, Mainstream Renewable Power

“I get up in the morning because I want to realise my full potential. I am driven to create a legacy that can live beyond my years. I believe in sustainable development and have a strong desire to contribute to the energy sector,” says Pule Segale. Through...

Aviwe Matiwane (31)

Aviwe Matiwane (31)

Research associate, Albany Museum and PhD candidate, Rhodes University

Aviwe Matiwane is an Eastern Cape scientist with a great passion for palaeontology. Registered at Rhodes University as a PhD student in the botany department, she is doing her research at the Albany Museum in Grahamstown on plant fossils of the Permian Period (from...

Yashodani Pillay (28)

Yashodani Pillay (28)

PhD candidate, UKZN

Yashodani Pillay believes in the power of compassion and the constant desire to improve herself and those around her gives her purpose. She defines herself through her connection to others and how they impact each other. This became clear after personal circumstances...

Phylis Makurunje (31)

Phylis Makurunje (31)

PhD student, Wits University

Looking back at her years growing up, Phylis Makurunje describes herself as “this odd girl who made wire cars”. “A lot of people around me took me so seriously that parents in my neighbourhood would come to my mother to ask for me to make wire cars for their kids. One...

Bonisile Luthuli (27)

Bonisile Luthuli (27)

PhD student, Africa Health Research Institute

There are people who spend their lives changing the world for the better on the macro scale, and then there are people like Bonisile Luthuli who are changing it on the micro scale. Luthuli is studying her PhD in medical microbiology at the Africa Health Research...

Dr Zamantungwa Khumalo (30)

Dr Zamantungwa Khumalo (30)

Medical scientist, National Institute of Communicable Diseases

Dr Zamantungwa Khumalo is passionate about science, research, youth and rural development and is inspired by passionate, hard-working people who go the extra mile to assist others in their development. She is a medical scientist at the National Institute of...

Muthumuni Managa (30)

Muthumuni Managa (30)

PhD candidate, Rhodes University

Growing up in the rural Venda village of Ha-Rabali, Muthumuni Managa says she “attended schools without science laboratories; in communities where cancer patients died more from lack of knowledge than cancer itself”. But, she adds: “My ultimate influence, however, was...

Dr Busisani Lembede (29)

Dr Busisani Lembede (29)

Lecturer, Wits University

It seems South Africa is packed full of intellectual talent; minds that are set to help change the world for the better and redefine the South African future. One of these minds belongs to Busisani Lembede, a PhD graduate and lecturer with six articles already...

Khanyisile Kgoadi (32)

Khanyisile Kgoadi (32)

Clinical science and immunology PhD student, UCT

Khanyisile Kgoadi wanted to be a medical doctor who finds a cure for HIV because there were, and still are, a lot of people in South Africa affected and infected by it. “I am a very compassionate and empathetic person, and the stigma around HIV, and the narrative...

Neil Thomas Stacey (31)

Neil Thomas Stacey (31)

Postdoctoral researcher, Unisa

Neil Thomas Stacey sees his “distrust of authority and semblance of self-reliance” as essential ingredients to his success. “Those are rare traits in academia, and surprisingly valuable,” says the 31-year-old. “Most scientists have a strong herd instinct, so a...

Charles Faul (27)

Charles Faul (27)

Founder and chief executive, Akili Labs and NOOTRO

What do you get when you cross biotechnology with computer science? Charles Faul, a young entrepreneur, the founder of Akili Labs and NOOTRO and a master’s student at the Biotechnology Innovation Centre at Rhodes University. He built the award-winning FieldLab — a...

Lebogang Mahlare (30)

Lebogang Mahlare (30)

Researcher, Stern Business School

Mpumalanga-born Lebogang Mahlare is passionate about technology and its importance in African development. Her decision to do a master’s in New York was influenced fundamentally by a desire for international exposure. “As South Africans we are underexposed to other...

Neo Hutiri (30)

Neo Hutiri (30)

Founder, Technovera

“Coming from engineering background and having worked in an automation space has definitely influenced the kind of technologies that Technovera has developed,” says Neo Hutiri. “We are constantly asking questions on the role of technology and how it can help us shape...

Dr Alveera Singh (34)

Dr Alveera Singh (34)

Postdoctoral research fellow, Africa Health Research Institute

AHRI (Africa Health Research Institute) and SANTHE (Sub-Saharan African Network for TB/HIV Research Excellence) postdoctoral research fellow Alveera Singh is a young woman whose research on infectious diseases in South Africa is making its mark. “I am passionate about...

Lungile Hlatshwayo (28)

Lungile Hlatshwayo (28)

Edison engineering programme candidate, General Electric

Lungile Hlatshwayo is the first African in General Electric Transport to be in the Thomas Edison development programme. This opportunity did not just fall into her lap, but came about as a result of hard work, a proven track record of consistent excellence, and most...

Ntsako Mgiba (23)

Ntsako Mgiba (23)

Co-founder and CEO, Jonga Systems

“I’ve always been a curious kid, fascinated by technology, but I was born in a community that didn’t have the resources to nurture that desire to learn more,” says Ntsako Mgiba. “So when my parents decided to move to Johannesburg and enrolled my brothers and I in...