School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences

Highlights from the 2023 Postgraduate Research and Innovation Symposium

Focus on Water Security at Postgraduate Research and Innovation Symposium

Critical issues surrounding water security and sustainability were discussed by scholars, researchers, and industry professionals during the 2023 Postgraduate Research and Innovation Symposium (PRIS) hosted in Durban by UKZN’s College of Agriculture, Engineering, and Science (CAES) under the theme: “Water for Sustainability into the 21st Century”.

CAES Dean of Research Professor Neil Koorbanally welcomed delegates and set the tone for the event by emphasising the importance of the symposium taking place off campus, providing postgraduate students with an experience similar to that of an international conference.

The keynote address, delivered by the chief executive officer of the Water Research Commission Dr Jennifer Molwantwa, tackled one of South Africa’s pressing social issues – water security. Molwantwa emphasised the role of circular and transformative approaches in achieving national water-related goals.

The first day of the symposium focused on oral presentations during which postgraduate students showcased their research work to a panel of internal and external judges. Delegates got the opportunity to interact with representatives from 24 organisations, including Standard Bank, AECI Mining, the South African National Accreditation System, the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, uMngeni uThukela Water and Thermo Fisher Scientific, who exhibited their contributions to research and innovation.

During the gala dinner there were lucky draws and a lively performance from the African Zebra Kings, creating a vibrant and memorable atmosphere.

The day ended with a gala dinner, featuring an address by Professor Michael Brooks.

Day two featured flash presentations, allowing students to present their research work. Executive Dean at the Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences at the University of Leeds in England, Professor Nora H de Leeuw, delivered a lecture on computer modelling of materials for sustainable energy applications.

The symposium ended with an awards ceremony, during which outstanding research contributions were recognised. Winners included Mr Peter Miguel Vermeulen, Ms Sinikiwe Precious Khumalo, Mr Ayanda Lucky Shandu, Ms Ntombiphumile Tenza, Ms Silungile Mhlongo, Mr Elijah Joseph, Mr Nkosinathi Ndlazi and Mr Shimon Corcos.

Closing remarks were made by Koorbanally and the Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Head of the College Professor Fhatuwani Mudau wrapping up proceedings on a positive note, while highlighting the collaborative spirit and commitment to advancing knowledge and innovation.

The symposium not only addressed critical issues related to water sustainability but also provided a platform for showcasing ground-breaking research and fostering collaboration between academia and industry. The event’s success is an indicator of the commitment to excellence in research and innovation, setting a high standard for future symposiums at the intersection of academia and industry.

Words: Siphesihle Shezi

Photographs: Supplied