Two DUT academic staff Indrani (Hazel) Govender and Maud Blose are chosen to be part of the prestigious 2019 Black Academics Advancement Programme.
The programme came into being when the National Research Foundation (NRF) embarked on a strategic partnership with the FirstRand Foundation (FRF) and introduced the Black Academics Advancement Programme to promote the development of Black South African academics, to become nationally and internationally recognised researchers. This enables academics in the PhD and Post-PhD tracks to take a sabbatical for one (1) to three (3) years. The two successful applicants had applied for the Black Academics Advancement Programme NRF-FRF Sabbatical Grant 2019, and after rigorous screening, were successfully chosen.
Congratulating the two staff members, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research, Innovation and Engagement, Professor Sibusiso Moyo thanked them both for applying. “This is what the NRF CEO was referring to. We need to encourage more DUT applicants for this programme,” she said.
Govender, a lecturer in the Department of Horticulture, has an MSc in Environmental Science, and is currently doing her PhD in Ecology.
For Govender, being part of this programme is a privilege. She said it is extremely challenging to cope with a full lecturing workload, other demands of her position at DUT and family responsibilities, while trying to make progress with research. “Ultimately work is a priority and research gets attention when time allows. This programme will provide an opportunity that would allow me to achieve my goals and complete my PhD research in the time I plan to. In addition, it will enable me to complete publications that have been works in progress for the past few years, and follow up on collaboration,” she said excitedly.
Her PhD topic is: Ecological Risk Assessment to Model River Resources in the Umngeni River Catchment, using the Bayesian Network Relative Risk Model. She has some years of industry experience in the water sector and finds aquatic science, water policy and governance very interesting. “I see my research as making a meaningful contribution to a sector faced with many current challenges. Environmental modelling is important to guide decision making. This has led me to pursue research in this discipline,” she added.
She also thanked the staff at the Research Directorate for their unwavering support in ensuring that her application was completed correctly and on time. She also encourages more staff to take advantage of opportunities presented at DUT to support their progress.
The second successful DUT staff member, Maud Blose, is a lecturer in the Journalism Programme. “I’m speechless on being chosen to be on the NRF-FRF’s Black Academic Advancement Programme. This is an amazing opportunity that will help fast-track my PhD research project. Through this funding, I’m now going to be able to go on sabbatical leave until I graduate with my doctoral degree. I’ll forever be grateful for the academic supervision I have under Professor Deirdre ‘Dee’ Pratt and Professor Jean-Phillipe Wade. They both continue to see something in me that I sometimes forget to see myself,” she said.
She stressed that such programmes are vital for DUT staff and students alike because DUT is an institution that prides itself on academic excellence, and one of the strategic focus areas of the institution is building research and innovation for development. “Opportunities such as the Black Academic Advancement Programme are some of the ways to materialise this focus area. The implementation of the four strategic focus areas requires that the entire DUT community not rest on its laurels but cease opportunities and strive for excellence at all times. It’s important that staff and students alike realise that opportunities are available for all to play a key role in the development of this world through innovative research outcomes,” she added.
Her PhD topic is: Exploring gender identities of females from townships in Durban as represented and negotiated through stereotypes by South African soap operas: Generations: The Legacy and Isidingo: The Need.
As excited and blessed as she feels to be afforded with this opportunity, she will dearly miss her students when she’s on sabbatical. “I often refer to them as my babies and seeing them excel in all areas of their lives, especially out in the industry, is priceless. This is why lecturing to me is not a job but a hobby that I engage in everyday and I always tell people that there’s nothing better than being paid for doing something that I love. Through this funding, the sabbatical leave will help me be a better academic, an asset to the institution and continue being a role model to many,” she said.
Pictured: Maud Blose and Indrani (Hazel) Govender.