College of Agriculture & Environmental Sciences

CAES research growth in scarce scientific fields

Dr Lindani Ncube, College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, Unisa

Unisa recently held the 2020 Research & Innovation Awards to celebrate its outstanding researchers. Dr Lindani Ncube of the College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences (CAES) is one of the recipients of the 2019 Million Rand Club Award for her research grant under the IRG-National Natural Science Foundation of China / NRF Research Cooperation Programme. She believes Unisa is performing wonders in terms of research and innovation.

Speaking about the award, Ncube expressed: "To me, the award is encouraging but it also means l must work extra hard so that I can contribute to Unisa, the African continent and global society to change lives and ensure the advancement of the human race. More so, the award means that Unisa, through the Research Directorate and our management, recognises our efforts and what we as staff members do, and they celebrate our milestones and achievements. For CAES, it means the college has grown in terms of research in scarce scientific fields and young researchers are starting to mature."

Ncube’s academic journey has not been a smooth one as she faced serious challenges and learnt some painful lessons when she was doing her PhD. However, she did not give up; she survived against all odds and became stronger. She completed a doctorate in Geology and subsequently joined CAES. Ncube is grateful to her previous mentors as they played a crucial role in her development as an academic and equipped her with numerous skills needed for effective research. They also provided her with an enabling environment, which supported her growth and allowed her to blossom in her academic life.

She served as a postdoctoral fellow funded by Unisa for two years (2016-2017). In the following year, she was awarded an NRF Innovation Postdoctoral Fellowship. The research grant that she received from the IRG-National Natural Science Foundation of China / NRF Research Cooperation Programme enabled the formation of a research group. The group has a wide spectrum of researchers from the Departments of Environmental Sciences and Mining Engineering at Unisa. The programme also covers joint research projects within the broad thematic area of Geoscience, with sub-topics within the broad thematic area such as landscape evolution (development and change) and critical zone studies.

In short, Ncube’s research focuses on the effects of epeirogenic processes and Pliocene-Pleistocene climatic changes on the evolution of river systems in Southern Africa. The projects seek to capture significant river evolution events by establishing sedimentary accumulation rates and provenance variation records since the Pliocene from the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP) cores collected from sites surrounding the Southern African continent. According to Ncube, the knowledge obtained regarding climatic effects and the aridity trends will aid planning and management of Southern African water resources and assist in the modelling of flood and drought patterns. This will potentially save lives and ensure better health and well-being of communities in riparian states.

Ncube concluded by advising upcoming researchers in her field: "It does not matter where you come from, all that matters is where you are going. If you want something, work for it. Continue to work hard, join hands with other researchers in the department, from other departments, colleges, universities (both local and international) and tap into their expertise. Form research groups and complement each other. Be daring, do not limit yourself, grab opportunities and do not be scared. You are the BEST!"

* By Nancy Legodi, Acting Journalist, Department of Institutional Advancement

Publish date: 2020/03/17