Young sci­en­tist spreads her wings to Ger­many

The Sunday Independent - - News - VIWE NDONGENI

GROW­ING up in Mount Coke, a ru­ral vil­lage out­side King Wil­liam’s Town, Zimkhitha Soji’s life was never glam­orous. She was poor, in ill health and suf­fered a mi­nor stroke as a teenager.

“When my fa­ther was asked by my teach­ers to change my school in the vil­lage for a bet­ter school in the ur­ban ar­eas, he would would ask, ‘what is so spe­cial about this kid that I should waste my money and take her to ur­ban schools?’

“So I had to tol­er­ate fi­nan­cial re­straint through­out my aca­demic jour­ney while work­ing to­wards my big dreams,” she said.

The 26-year-old sci­en­tist, who is study­ing for a PhD in agri­cul­ture and an­i­mal science at Fort Hare Univer­sity, was taken by science at an early age, and says her dream to pur­sue it as a ca­reer was in­spired by her school teach­ers.

Fast for­ward to this year and Soji is set to jet off in June to at­tend a pres­ti­gious science con­fer­ence – the 68th Lin­dau No­bel Lau­re­ate meet­ings in Lin­dau, Ger­many.

The an­nual gath­er­ing, to be held from June 24 to 29, brings to­gether No­bel lau­re­ates and young sci­en­tists to fos­ter sci­en­tific ex­change between gen­er­a­tions and cul­tures.

Soji is one of six young South African women sci­en­tists nom­i­nated to at­tend the con­fer­ence by the Academy of Science of South Africa.

She will be at­tend­ing with fel­low sci­en­tists Dr Eileen Thomas from Stel­len­bosch Univer­sity, Edith Pha­lane from North West Univer­sity, Bless­ing Ahi­ante from North West Univer­sity, Dr Bianca Ver­lin­den from the Univer­sity of Pre­to­ria and Shireen Men­tor from the Univer­sity of the West­ern Cape.

Soji, whose re­search in­volves find­ing ways to im­prove meat pro­duc­tion, said: “I am so over­whelmed by this op­por­tu­nity.

“Our past does not de­ter­mine our fu­ture. Live your dreams and don’t forget to up­lift others… be­cause the world has to re­mem­ber you for the legacy you leave be­hind when you die.”

SCIENCE BOFFIN: Zimkhitha Soji

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.