Dr Phumlani Msomi hails from Lamontville, KwaZulu-Natal, where he completed all of his basic schooling. He went on to complete a National Diploma in Analytical Chemistry from the University of Johannesburg (UJ) before moving on the Tshwane University of Technology to obtain his BTech. He went back to UJ to then complete both a master’s and PhD in chemistry. He has spent time at different organisations such as Columbus Steal, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research and Rand Water.
Msomi is a young and vibrant lecturer in chemistry at UJ. He enjoys teaching and believes that “education is the foundation for future growth and development”. He prepares his students for the real world by helping them to be independent thinkers and responsible South African citizens. He is excited about being able to work with and teach students from diverse South African backgrounds. Msomi’s research is focused on the development of membrane fuel cells that can produce energy with alcohol. Energy is an important issue in South Africa as we look for solutions to stabilise our energy sources and move towards cleaner forms of energy generation and storage.
In his drive for excellence, Msomi keeps two principles: “to be consistent, and to be committed”, in all that he does. He was able to finish his PhD in record time while also being a full-time lecturer at UJ. He is the youngest researcher in his faculty and he has already published research papers. Now he is working to build his international research profile, forming research collaborations across borders to make an impact.
Msomi gives back to the community by working with some of his colleagues and university students to teach chemistry to high school learners in townships. He looks to extend the experiences of Gauteng learners by exposing them to science, judging the science expo and talking about science careers. He has met students who are now at university, who say he was a great inspiration when they were still high school learners.
Msomi would like to become a professor and hone his entrepreneurial skills by growing a company that focuses on better use of water. More is still to come from Msomi — he is one of our shining young stars.