PSANA Chair encourage young scientists to take a leap of faith

Posted on June 24, 2023

“I would encourage all postgraduate students to take the leap of faith and apply for that conference you would like to attend even if you are hesitant. After all, you miss 100% of the opportunities you don't take.”

These sentiments were shared by Henrico Langeveld, PhD Biochemistry candidate in the Malaria Parasite Molecular Laboratory (M2PL) in the Department of Biochemistry, Genetics and Microbiology, after presenting for the first time at an international conference. Henrico is also the Chair of the Postgraduate Student Association of the Natural and Agricultural Sciences (PSANA).

He attended the Protein Kinases of Parasitic Protozoa V conference at the College of Medicine, University of Central Florida in the USA earlier this year and said, “As PhD student who is still only in the beginning stages of my PhD journey, when I was made aware of this conference I could not let this opportunity pass me by. I was initially hesitant because I was only at the start of the second year of my PhD and I thought I did not have enough data yet. But I took the leap and submitted my abstract. Then, to my amazement, I got an email informing me that my abstract, Exploring and probing the druggable kinome of Plasmodium falciparum parasites, was accepted for a presentation! I was over the moon.”

“I was going to a different country to share my work with other leading international scientists was, for me, a young scientist, a life-long dream and a massive milestone. This was my first in-person international conference, and I cannot stress how much I learned on this trip. I can honestly say this experience and opportunity has made me grow as a scientist and young researcher,” he explained.

“Some of the work I presented at the conference and what my PhD project is all about is striving towards understanding the role and function of the kinome and specifically a family of Aurora-related kinases within asexual replication and sexual differentiation of Plasmodium falciparum parasites and could we translate these findings into potential therapeutic interventions to combat malaria.”

“All in all, this was one of the best experiences I have had in my short scientific journey and would not have been possible if it was not for the help from my supervisor, Prof Lyn-Marié Birkholtz, who is just an inspiration,” Henrico concluded.

- Author Martie Meyer

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