The doyenne of seeds: Patricia Berjak

Professor Patricia Berjak was born in Johannesburg on 29 December 1939. After attaining her BSc (Hons) cum laude in biochemistry from the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) in 1962, Berjak moved to Natal, where she spent a year as a teacher before taking up a post at the University of Natal, now known as the…

Quarraisha Abdool Karim: protecting women against HIV

Few AIDS researchers have done as much to help the plight of poor, rural women in South Africa as Quarraisha Abdool Karim. This is her story, as published in the Academy of Science of South Africa’s book “Legends of South African Science“. It is part of a series of profiles about leading South Africans that…

[LISTEN] The Science Inside: Radio waves, lost continents and skirt lengths

Want to know more about a cellphone that could charge itself, how to build a radio from scratch or how the SKA radio telescope is to probe the radio waves of distant galaxies? Then listen to this episode of “The Science Inside”, produced by the Wits Radio Academy. Other topics in this show include: * News…

The dream of electric cars

Time to rev your (electric) engine. Funeka P. Nkosi of the CSIR writes in Science Today about electric cars, and the relevant research being done in South Africa.    Twenty years ago, it looked like the dream of the electric car was dead. Even though the first practical electric car was invented in 1884, these…

Toxic fungi: what’s in your food?

This article by Theodora Ekwomadu of North-West University about food fungi is not for the squeamish. It first appeared in Science Today. Here goes! In 1960 more than 100,000 turkeys died in the United Kingdom. The mass death – linked to peanut meal, containing chemicals produced by fungi known as mycotoxins – brought the existence of…

Every drop counts: watching water from space

In this article from Science Today, Keneilwe Hlahane of the University of Cape Town writes about how satellites are used to monitor the water quality in our dams. The water is green, a clear sign that it is polluted. Dense mats of algal blooms float on the surface of the dam, turning the water a dark…

Weighty matter: metabolic syndrome on the rise among SA’s Asian Indian population

Metabolic syndrome (MetS) in South African Asian Indians is becoming a considerable health concern. It’s not only confined to older adults either. Worryingly, this lifestyle disease was identified in 6.9% of the young adults tested between the ages of 15 and 24 years. This is the results from the most up-to-date study available on the…