UKZN researcher dreams big

2010-09-06 00:00

WITH a passion for physics and a desire to be a role model conducting internationally recognised research in a male-dominated discipline, University of KwaZulu-Natal PhD student Adriana Marais has big dreams a make a difference in the field of science in South Africa.

Marais is one of three researchers who were presented with a fellowship award at the Women in Science Awards ceremony held in Johannesburg recently.

The 27-year-old says she is into science for the long haul, and realised this after two years spent travelling the world.

“After finishing my BSc honours in physics, I went travelling thinking that I had enough of studying for a while. But two years later I realised that I missed physics. I missed both the challenge and the joy of seeing the world around me in a new light.”

This prompted her to go back to read for her masters in Science. She joined Professor Francesco Petruccione and his newly established quantum research group and has not looked back.

“The project for which I have been given the award will be a step towards developing a renewable energy source in the form of highly efficient photovoltaic cells that mimic the photosynthetic process,” a proud Marais told The Witness.

She believes this type of research is imperative for our future on the planet.

“It is vital for South Africa to be up to date in emerging fields of research of which the area of quantum biology is one. I’m committed to sharing the specialised knowledge and skills associated with the project with women researchers and South African researchers in general.”

This is the reason that Marais, who scored an impressive summa cum laude pass for her masters, is still in the country.

“I believe strongly that the privilege of gaining knowledge comes with an obligation to share it. There are so many opportunities to do so here in South Africa. I have tried to show commitment to developmental education in this country and I intend to continue to do so with all skills that I learn.”

With women and girls in South Africa needing female role models in science, Marais gladly takes on the challenge with a smile.

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