College of Agriculture, Engineering
and Science (CAES)

Passion for Solving Scientific Puzzles Earns Mdluli a Master’s Degree

Passion for Solving Scientific Puzzles Earns Mdluli a Master’s Degree

‘Do what you have to do in order to do what you want to do’.

These are the words that motivate Ms Sibusiswangaye Mdluli who graduated with a Master’s degree in Plant breeding.

‘I chose UKZN because it is one of the best tertiary institutions in the country, particularly in terms of quality and the quantity of research output. When I read about the African Centre for Crop Improvement (ACCI), I knew this was the place for me to find my feet within the vast field of agriculture whilst still being able to make a difference,’ she said.

Mdluli sees her graduation as a reminder that anything is possible as long you keep the right company. She is grateful to her supervisor, Professor Hussein Shimelis, the Plant Breeding discipline as well as her family and friends. ‘It (Master’s degree) is an achievement for all these people,’ she said.

Her research focused on screening for drought tolerant bread wheat genotypes using morpho-physiological traits, drought tolerance indices as well as simple sequence repeat molecular marker technology. Since water scarcity is a harsh reality, her research could not only benefit farmers; industries such as millers also stand to profit.

‘I enjoy making sense of scientific puzzles,’ she said whole speaking about her decision to study plant breeding. ‘Plant breeding is one big puzzle. Some puzzle pieces are in plant biochemistry, others in plant physiology, plant genetics and the like. Within this field, one has more creative liberty,’ she said.

Mdluli is currently working as a research assistant for a PhD student and her plans are to begin her own PhD journey in 2019.

She looks forward to her future and hopes to serve as an inspiration to young women by showing them that nothing is impossible, no matter your background.

Words: Ntokozo Dladla

Photograph: Rajesh Jantilal