Posted on May 03, 2010

Maswanganye was born in Giyani but grew up in Lebowakgomo, Limpopo Province, where she developed a passion for nature and animals which later became her choice of studies in her academic career. In 1989 she was awarded a joint Northern Province/German Science Foundation Achievement award for promising scholars in science at Giyani High School, Limpopo province. Maswanganye showed academic prowess when she completed a BSc degree in Zoology at the University of Venda. She then furthered her studies at the University of Pretoria whereby she graduated for her Honours and Masters degree.

Her Masters degree required her to do some of her work at INRA (Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique) at Tours (France), and she has since published two articles titled Ultra-structural studies of epididymal spermatozoa in three social African mole-rats of the genus Cryptomys (Rodentia: Bathyergidae): conservatism in sperm morphology. Afr. Zool. 40(2): 293 – 300 and Oligospermia and/or Azoospermia in male Damaraland mole-rats (Cryptomys damarensis). JZL, vol. 248, p 411-418. She has also presented her work at several national and international conferences. After completing her studies, she took a break from academia and she got a job in France as an English language assistant for Zoology students.

Amanda Maswanganye resumed her studies at the University of Pretoria – Department of Zoology & Department of Genetics, under the tutelage of Proff P Bloomer, NC Bennett and CT Chimimba, where she is working on her doctoral thesis titled Speciation and landscape genetics of three rock dwelling small mammals (Micaelamys namaquensis, Procavia capensis and Heterophrax brucei), with an emphasis on the grassland biome of Southern Africa using molecular techniques.

On being a recipient of the award, Maswanganye said it is a great privilege and honour to be bestowed such a prestigious award by L’Oréal/UNESCO. “It is a big confidence and moral booster to realise that someone else believes in one’s work and is passionate about it”, said Maswanganye.

Most of the funding from the award will go towards her overseas visit and support towards an international conference to present her work. The outcome of her work will therefore contribute to small mammal biodiversity research in Southern Africa, and will also contribute to understanding biodiversity at an ecosystem level by focussing on the grassland biome which is in critical need for conservation interventions.

Maswanganye is also passionate about the role of women in science and she is determined to transfer her skills and knowledge and to serve as a role model for other young upcoming students, especially women. She acknowledges that there are women who are at the helm of every sphere of science, and what remains is for them to be recognised for their excellent work that they are doing. “We have to get rid of the mindset that women are not made for science. This view has been upheld for generations. Parents need to encourage their daughters to take interest in science and follow any career path of they choose”, said Maswanganye

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