College of Science, Engineering & Technology

Making the all-important connection between academia and industry

Dr Mark Smith from the Department of Chemistry in the College of Science, Engineering and Technology (CSET), has been elected as the Chairperson of the Central Division of the South Africa Chemical Institute (SACI) for a two-year term (2021–2022). SACI is the national professional body that represents chemists, the chemical industry and chemical education in South Africa.

Dr Mark Smith, Senior lecturer in the Department of Chemistry, CSET

"This position presents a wonderful opportunity for me to bring chemical education and the chemical industry together. One of my goals for the next two years is to establish new pathways where undergraduate and postgraduate students can directly interact with the chemical industry in South Africa. The position will allow me to create a platform where the chemical industry can disseminate their needs to universities throughout South Africa, who can then align their chemistry syllabi to meet the needs of the industry," he said.

Elaborating on how he was selected, Smith said: "I have been actively involved with SACI for many years now, including heading the organising committee of the annual SACI Young Chemists Symposium and being on the organising committees of several SACI-sponsored conferences. I have also been involved in various other activities in the chemical industry, including chairing the South African Chemometrics Society and being a regular judge at the annual symposiums of the South African Spectroscopic Society."

Smith further expressed his appreciation to the postgraduate students of the Department of Chemistry, in particular, Christinah Chokwe and Maire Bourletides, who have always been available to assist with the logistics and planning of SACI events. "This also would not have been possible without the collaboration of the Wits Chemistry Department, who have supported me tirelessly in my endeavours," he said.

Smith is currently a senior lecturer in the Department of Chemistry, teaching two honours modules and two undergraduate modules in physical chemistry. He has also started an NRF-funded structural chemistry research group, which is currently focusing on the design and synthesis of new anti-tuberculosis drugs. He has a small group of postgraduate students who are involved in the research group and he would like to expand the group over the next few years.

* By Thembeka Ntuli-Mpapama, Communication and Marketing Specialist, College of Science, Engineering, and Technology

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Publish date: 2021-03-26 00:00:00.0