More MUT staff acquire PhDs

Dr Sfundo Gumede, left, at his graduation

The University staff continue to respond positively to the request from management to improve their qualifications, particularly if they are academics. This graduation season, there are at least five staff members that acquired senior degrees, all PhDs, and all studied at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.  Two of these staff members are from one department.  Lynelle Martin, a Lecturer in the Faculty of Management’s Department of Marketing, did her study on: The impact of cultural values on consumer behaviour: A case study of specialty products at a University of Technology in KwaZulu-Natal. Dr Martin said the aim of the study was to contribute to the body of knowledge by investigating if cultural values influence the purchasing behaviour of specialty products by academic and support staff at a tertiary institution. Through her study, Dr Martin highly recommends marketers and brand promoters offer unique products tailored to suit the needs of higher education staff. A “delighted” Martin, the only child in the family, and only female staff member in her department, and the youngest to have a PhD in her department, thanks her parents, and colleagues for their support.  Dr Matin studied at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.

Ayanda Magwenyane is a Lecturer in the Department of Chemistry. He studied at University of KwaZulu-Natal’s College of Health, School of Laboratory Medicine and Medical Sciences. The topic of his study was: Molecular dynamic simulation approach to explore heat shock protein 90 (Hsp90) as an anti-cancer target for drug discovery. Dr Magwenyane said he chose this topic because “I am passionate about expanding my knowledge of infectious and complicated diseases. Cancer is one of the diseases that can lead to deficiency, and it does not refer to a single disease,” he said.

Dr Magwenyane said he faced a lot of challenges as he was doing his study. One of these was the Covid-19 pandemic. “We could not continue our work as usual. But the support of the University with online platforms to communicate with the supervisor, the support groups for postgraduates, and the online workshops helped me a lot. I was even able to publish my first paper during the pandemic in an international journal with an impact factor of more than 5. The exciting thing is that you always know what you will be at the end of the challenge, and the positive results of the work I have done during the study,” said Dr Magwenyane.

Buyi Makhanya, the Deputy Director: ALLU (Academic Literacy and Language Unit), and one of the University’s longest-serving staff members, did her study on Linguistics.  The topic of Dr Makhanya’s study was: Academic writing experiences and literacy development of Engineering students at a South African university of Technology. Using Cultural Capital Theory and Academic Literacy Model, Dr Makhanya was able to explore the academic writing experiences and literacy development of Engineering students of her chosen institution.  Dr Makhanya’s study highlights how to improve academic writing and capabilities of students, especially those from rural and low socio-economic backgrounds.

Sfundo Cebolenkosi Gumede’s PhD is one that is likely to attract more focus. Dr Gumede is one of the few individuals that have a PhD in Mathematics. The title of his study was: New exact solutions for neutral and charged shear-free relativistic fluids. Dr Gumede says his thesis presented new classes of exact solutions to the Einstein field equations, which is the subject of study in the Einstein’s theory of General Relativity. “The results from my thesis describe dynamics of gravitating fluids – charged and neutral.  These dynamics can be explained using a set of partial differential equations, called the Einstein field equations, which we solved,” said Dr Gumede.

Dr Gumede’s head of department, Professor Alfred Msomi, also graduated with a PhD in Mathematics. This was Professor Msomi’s second PhD.