FameLab SA 2018 Finalists 


Pulleng Moleko-Boyce – Nelson Mandela University

She is an analytical and inorganic chemist, postgraduate research student at Nelson Mandela University. She is from Motherwell in Port Elizabeth and obtained her undergraduate qualification in BSc Chemistry and Mathematical statistics, also Chemistry honours from Rhodes University and MSc degree in analytical and inorganic chemistry with Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University. She is currently pursuing a PhD in analytical and inorganic chemistry with the University of Nelson Mandela.


Research focus: One such intervention is her current research focus, on recovering precious metals. She develops chemistry by designing reagents to extract precious metals of interest from waste (used catalytic converter) to be re-used again in the automotive industry. This recycling method plays a significant role in sustaining precious metals in South Africa.

Emmie Chiyindiko - University of Free State

She is a chemist with a deep commitment to make science communicable, relate-able and consequently effective in solving everyday problems globally. She is currently pursuing a research MSc in Chemistry with The University of Free State. Emmie was born and bred in Zimbabwe where she completed a BSc (Hons) in Applied Chemistry with The National University of Science and Technology in the city of Bulawayo. She then moved to Bloemfontein early 2017 where she continues to make major strides in scientific research.

Research Focus: She focuses on Synthesis and characterization of a series of unique metal complexes. Using chemistry techniques such as electro-chemistry and computational chemistry, properties that make these complexes of great interest are explored. Metal complexes have tremendous application potential in science and industry. They are mostly used as highly-efficient catalysts in manufacturing industry which in turn will up the production levels across the globe.


Buhle Buyana- University of Fort Hare 

Buhle is a Chemist form the University of Fort Hare. She is from the Mdantsane township, in the Eastern Cape. She obtained her undergraduate qualification in Chemistry and Biochemistry, her Honours in Chemistry at the University of Fort Hare and is currently pursuing her MSc in Chemistry at the University of Fort Hare.

Research focus: Her research is focused on the preparation and in vitro evaluation on newly developed pluronic- based gels. These gels are gels that exhibit antibacterial activity, have a good drug delivery system, biocompatible and biodegradable. The gels are prepared for the healing acceleration of chronic wounds.


Olaperi Okuboyejo – University of the Witwatersrand

Olaperi is a Computer Scientist currently pursuing her PhD degree in the University of the Witwatersrand. She hails from Ogun State in Nigeria, where she undertook her B.Tech. and M.Sc. degrees in Computer Science at Bells University of Technology and Covenant University, Ota respectively, where she graduated with Distinctions and consequently as the best graduating student in her department both at undergraduate and graduate studies .

Research Interests – She is interested in applying Artificial Intelligence and other Computer Science techniques to enhance education delivery. Currently her PhD research is focused on generating automatic feedback for learners studying Theoretical Computing. On the other hand, she is also keen on the concept of Image Augmentation, a technique that solves the data needs of machine learning algorithms by generating millions of artificial images from a sample of real images.


Sinethemba Makhanya- University of the Witwatersrand

Sinethemba grew up in KwaZulu-Natal where she completed her first degrees at UKZN before proceeding – via a Fulbright Scholarship – to complete a Master’s degree in drama therapy at New York University. In 2013 she joined the Drama for Life programme at Wits as a lecturer in Applied Drama and conducted applied drama interventions with communities via Themba Interactive (a Gauteng NGO). She also taught Acting and Drama in Education at the University of Pretoria. She enrolled for a PhD in medical humanities at Wits in 2015 on the topic of mental health and traditional healing. Part of her journey has been undertaking initial processes in training and practising as a traditional healer.

Research focus: In her work Sinethemba began wanting to explore the construction of mental health by traditional healers, with the aim of presenting these within the field of psychology to set a framework for how psychologists and traditional healers could collaborate. She has found however that the priority is no longer mental health rather she is now interested in writing a framework for traditional healing that can be critiqued and used as a base in abstracting a theory of traditional healing.


Tlangelani Nghondzweni – Tshwane University of Technology

He is a student and a postgraduate teaching assistant at Tshwane University of Technology (TUT). He was born and raised in Burgersdorp village, in the subtropical region of Tzaneen in Limpopo province. He obtained his undergraduate qualification in Crop Production, as well as B-Tech degree in Agriculture and a Master’s degree in Horticulture with TUT. He is currently pursuing a PhD in science (Agriculture), with special focus in plant pathology, at TUT.

Research focus: One of the innovative ideas from his current research focuses on the use of plant essential oils isolated from different South African medicinal plants, for the treatment of postharvest bacterial soft rot on potato tubers. Also identifying the quality of essential oils based on quantity of major compounds and antimicrobial effect as affected by physiological stage and harvesting season.


Precious Mokuoane- Central University of Technology

She is from Thaba Nchu, Free State. She is   qualified diagnostic Radiographer and breast imaging specialist. She work as a Work Integrated Learning (WIL) coordinator at the Central University of Technology, in the Faculty of Environmental science, department of Radiographers. 

She is currently pursuing a Masters of Radiography at the Central University of Technology, focus is optimizing radiation exposures. Sylvia aims to teach people about the science behind various imaging modalities within radiology and radiation protection as one of the global current concerns about medical radiation (Diagnostic imaging) in the most fun and relatable FAMELAB way


Nyasha Chimhandamba- University of Cape Town

Nyasha Chimhandamba was briefly a management consultant and is currently the co-founder her own product called FemWash, which focuses on menstrual hygiene management. She is also currently a business student the UCT Graduate School of Business, perusing a Masters in Inclusive Innovation. She has an undergraduate in Genetics and Biochemistry and Honours in Molecular and Cell Biology which she obtained at the University of Cape Town.

Research: Nyasha’s previous research topic was titled “Engineering a sodium specific biosensor”. Using the well characterized protein luciferase, (best known for giving the firefly its luminous glow) she attempted to create a sodium specific biosensor that could be used to measure salinity stress, in plants


Darryl Herron – University of Pretoria (FABI)

Darryl is a forest pathologist or tree doctor in training. He is currently based at the Forestry and Agricultural Biotechnology Institute (FABI) and completing his PhD in the Department of Biochemistry, Genetics and Microbiology at the University of Pretoria. Darryl is originally from Midrand, in Johannesburg, but later moved to Pretoria to do his BSc, BSc Hons and MSc, all in Microbiology, at the University of Pretoria.

Research focus: Grasses, like mosquitoes, carry pathogens. While grasses don't carry malaria, they do carry plant pathogens that can infect other plants, like pine. I am interested in understanding the risk infected grasses may pose to the pine growing industry of the world. To do that, I am looking at how well the fungus grows in certain grasses and how easily they can move from grass to pine tree.


Bryne Rathabe – University of Limpopo

He is a physics undergraduate at the University of Limpopo doing BSC in physical science he is from seshego Polokwane city of the Limpopo province


Research focus: Energy and Magnetism on the focus of theoretical physics on finding the new source of energy that does not harm or pollute the planet. Other research focuses on sea water purification for domestic use by using alternative cheap purification Methods.



Nobuhle Mweli - UKZN/SAEON

Nobuhle is a Master’s candidate in Ecological Science at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg campus. She graduated from UKZN, obtaining a degree in Environmental Sciences and Honours in Ecological sciences. Prior to starting her Masters, she was a DST-NRF intern hosted by the South African Environmental Observation Network, Grasslands-Forests-Wetlands node (SAEON-GFW).

Research focus: Her research focus is on land rehabilitation, understanding the dynamic grassland ecosystem and what drives its change. She links that with environmental education, empowering rural communities and also proving that black women can also thrive in science by pursuing what they are passionate about. “My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive, and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humour and some style”.


Bonisiwe Seshabela – University of South Africa

The winner of the UNISA FameLab SA heat is Bonisiwe Seshabela, a BSc Masters student in the Department of Science Engineering and Technology. She comes across confident and excited as she thanks the organisers for giving her a platform to improve her science communication skills. She says she’s looking forward to the semi-finals to gain more public speaking experience.


Sebabatso Maifadi - University of South Africa

Sebabatso Maifadi, is a PhD student also in the Department of Science Engineering and Technology, working in the nanotechnology and water sustainability research unit. She said that FameLab SA highlighted the importance of being able to relate to the general public in order to show them that scientists work on real-life issues - not just in labs!


Khavharendwe Rambau (CSIR)  

Ms Khavharendwe Rambau is a 24 year old from a rural village in Muledane Thohoyandou, Limpopo. She completed her BSc. Hons in Physics at the University of Free State in Bloemfontein, her MSc in University of Pretoria and currently a PhD candidate at CSIR, HySA.

Her research focus is in the use waste materials such as waste tyres and spent Li-ion batteries to generate porous materials that are used for hydrogen storage for fuel cell vehicles. These materials make it safer for fuel cell vehicle operation and in turn make the help clean the environment and assist in creating green energy

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