Obtaining his PhD (Doctor of Philosophy) in Biotechnology was a very proud moment for the soft-spoken Durban University of Technology (DUT) student researcher, Bibhuti Ranjan.
He obtained his Degree of Doctor of Philosophy in the department of Biotechnology during the faculty of Applied Sciences graduation ceremony at the DUT Fred Crookes Sports Centre, Durban.
Dr Ranjan started his PhD degree in 2015 under the supervision of Professor Suren Singh: Executive Dean of the Faculty of Applied Sciences. His course was in Biotechnology which had applications in various industrial areas such as agriculture, environmental and medical, to name but a few.
“Prof Suren Singh had provided me with an opportunity to work in the Columbia University, New York, USA, to accomplish one of the Structural Biology objectives, wherein the crystal structure of fungal cyanase was solved for the first time,” he said proudly.
Having such a passion in the field of international environmental issues, Dr Ranjan kept his focus on global environmental problems, as it warranted the need to develop novel strategies for an economical efficient and sustainable bioremediation process.
His topic concentrated on the metal extraction industry and how it is crucial to the world’s infrastructure. It also looked at the toxic side effects, due to the release of various hazardous waste into the environment such as, cyanide, cyanate and heavy metals.
“In order to overcome from this problem, I have developed novel approaches for efficient and sustainable bioremediation of these hazardous waste. This work has global implications and is also relevant in the South African context due to the presence of mining industries. In addition, it is remarkable to mention that, one of the novel finding is also available on Wikipedia as a reference (17) (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyanase),” he added.
Dr Ranjan further said that rapid industrialisation and proliferative development of chemical and mining industries have resulted in increased global pollution and deterioration of environmental quality, due to the release of numerous toxic substances such as cyanide, cyanate and heavy metals.
“This has extreme relevance in the South African context due to the high amount of cyanide used by local mines in comparison to that utilised globally,” he said.
Also, his great passion in the subject of microbiology, drove him to never give up on his research because microorganisms are immensely important in people’ everyday lives. “In particular, microbes are essential for the production of many foods and beverages and also responsible for the remediation of hazardous pollutants in an eco-friendly manner,” he said.
Besides finding time to do his research, Dr Ranjan has also published many original research articles in peer-reviewed scientific journals and presented his work in several national and international conferences across the world. “With my sheer disciplined schedule and support provided by family, I have managed to accomplish the set goals I had set aside for myself. My journey had its fair share of ups and downs, however, my strong determination for research was the key to success,” he said excitedly.
For Dr Ranjan, this doctorate is the highest academic qualification which he has accomplished, so now he is eligible for the post of scientists.
“I want to become a great scientist. I always think that nothing is impossible. In other words, I believe that, if you have a strong determination for any work, you can achieve that goal,” he said.
Pictured: Dr Bibhuti Ranjan