UP PhD student a runner-up in SA Agency for Science and Technology Advancement competition

Posted on March 13, 2019

Ms Yashini Naidoo, a second-year PhD student at the University of Pretoria’s (UP) Centre for Microbial Ecology and Genomics (CMEG), is the runner-up in the Writing category of the South Africa Agency for Science and Technology Advancement (SAASTA) Young Science Communicator Competition. Her supervisor is Professor Don Cowan, Director of UP’s CMEG.

She won the prize for her article “Superbugs: The end of an antibiotic era?” Yashini is currently investigating antibiotic resistance in Namibian desert soil as part of a global effort to inform and assist the One Health* strategy for antimicrobial resistance.

“I entered the competition for two reasons,” Ms Naidoo says. “Firstly, I am passionate about my research and it is important to me to contribute to society using science. Secondly, I thought I would take an opportunity and try a different and exciting challenge. I chose the topic because it forms part of my research and because antibiotic resistance is a global crisis. The important information that I would like readers to take from this is the impact of improper and over-use of antibiotics and how we, as a society, can help to alleviate this burden.”

Ms Naidoo says she was pleasantly surprised to hear that she was the runner-up. “I am grateful that I get to do my bit by helping to promote awareness of this global crisis.”

Read Yashini’s article: https://www.saasta.ac.za/saasta_wp/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/YSCC-Yashini-Naidoo.pdf?fbclid=IwAR18IvRmsVsyvJfKJq9tS6-BwVRJoypzFEqpjVr0mKdvP8BNAOGDwv9N9Z8

SAASTA is a business unit of the National Research Foundation (NRF) with the mandate to advance public awareness, appreciation and engagement of science, engineering, innovation and technology in South Africa.

The One Health approach is a global strategy that encourages interdisciplinary collaboration and communication on health care for humans, animals and the environment. Antibiotic resistance (ABR) is a direct consequence of the selection pressure from the intensive use of antibiotics in human and veterinary medicine, animal farming, and agricultural practices. This results in the continuous release of antibiotics into the environment, requiring a One Health approach towards its understanding and containment. Soil is one of the largest and most diverse habitats on earth and has been regarded as a reservoir of antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs) in both impacted and natural habitats. However, relatively little is known about the abundance and composition of antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs) in non-agricultural regions such as hot deserts.

- Author Martie Meyer

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