Jan-Hendrik Hofmeyr: a biochemist who believes perceptions can be shifted

In academia, change often happens slowly. Academics are born into a paradigm and, more often than not, they maintain that paradigm rather than interrogating and critiquing it. It is rare to find a researcher who is willing, much less eager, to look outside of his or her field and recognise when a paradigm can be…

In defense of my research on plant defenses

Before I switched careers from scientist to science communicator, I completed an MSc in biochemistry, and for the last 3 years I’ve been wondering how I would ever explain to someone outside of my niche research field what my project was actually about. Unless you are a plant biochemist, the title of my dissertation would give…

Previn Naicker, 23, is youngest Witsie to get PhD

By Riante Naidoo (Wits Vuvuzela) After skipping grades 7, 9 and 10, Previn Naicker graduated from Wits with a PhD in Biochemistry last year at the age of 23. Wits Vuvuzela caught up with the alum at the end of  graduation week. He hopped out of his dad’s car, slung his sling bag over his right shoulder…

Fancy toothpaste with a local flavour?

Earlier this year, Prof. Namrita Lall of the University of Pretoria received the Order of Mapungubwe – South Africa’s highest honour – in recognition of her research into the use of South Africa’s indigenous plants for the treatment of anything from cancer and tuberculosis (TB) to acne and gum disease. At only 45, this medicinal plant…

Postgrads pass the mic

A few of the biochemists in the room raised an eyebrow at Msizi Mhlongo’s opening line: “A plant defends itself like the Zulu warriors of the past, who had only spears to defend against guns.” Others grinned and perked up after a long day of postgraduate research presentations. This ‘research day’, held on 20 November…