“I am very relieved! I have had a rough ride through this process, particularly this year. Lots of challenges. But as God would have it, here I am. I was with my very good friend Maleni Thakur when I got the news of the results. I shouted in excitement, I passed,” said an elated Stanley Onwubu. He was the recipient of the Doctor of Dental Technology degree at the 2019 September graduation in Durban.
Onwubu stressed that he was fortunate to be blessed with two cerebral and generous supervisors (Prof Mdluli and Prof Singh). “I owe much of my achievement to them. I was given the chance to learn, make mistakes and grow at my own pace and space,” he said.
He also thanked his best friend Maleni Thakur and her wonderful family. The Dean of Health Sciences Prof Sibiya, Prof Ashley Ross, and Mr Sugen Reddy. “They have been a great pillar of support to me,” he added.
Commenting more on his topic for his dissertation, Onwubu said he focused on Dentine hypersensitivity which is a notable common problem in the field of dentistry and presents a challenge for oral health workers to effectively manage. “This condition is attributed to the erosive or abrasive demineralisation of the enamel and the subsequent exposure of the dentine tubules to the oral environment. Looking at South Africa with the high erosive drink consumption, one would presume that the occurrence of dentine hypersensitivity will be high among the population. Besides, the concept for the study, particularly the use of eggshells was stimulated from my Master’s project that I would say was successful,” he added.
Onwubu said he battled many obstacles in order to forge ahead with the research area and lost a year worth of academic study. He had this uncanny believe that simplicity is in nature and eggshells his goldmine. “It is fascinating to note that eggshell has unique physical and chemical properties. These properties, particularly the high calcium content in eggshell could serve as a base material for many applications. Hence, the ability to harness these properties would ultimately add value to waste by a way of creating employment for many youths in South Africa as well as reducing environmental pollution towards a sustainable green environment,” said Onwubu.
The journey for Onwubu during his Master’s has seen him publish two papers in an ISI rated journal. In his doctoral study, and with the support of his supervisors and other co-authors, he completed 15 papers, 13 of which have been published as well as three book chapters.
For Onwubu, looking ahead into the future, he aims to bring the developed eggshell paste to the market. He strongly believes that research should go beyond paper publication. “In my view, good research is that which bring succor to people. In other words, a researcher must aim to solve a real-life problem that affects the general public. This is where my topic stands out,” he said
His first priority is to prepare the developed eggshell product for the South Africa market. And this can only happen by engaging in further research with a view of improving the quality of the product. Secondly, his joy will be to pursue a postdoctoral. “I have had a wonderful, brotherly, and friendly relationship with my supervisor. He stood by me during my worst days. Believed in my abilities, and invested heavily towards the research project. Hence, I desire to continue working and learning under him. I do not see myself as a complete product, not yet. However, this could only be feasible should my NRF application for a postdoctoral is successful,” he said.
His advice to the DUT research community is that it is never too late to pursue one’s dream. “Find the right support group, ignore the naysayers. And more importantly, attend workshops on research training and support. The DUT research office are very prudent in organising research support workshops,” he said.
Pictured: Stanley Onwubu