UP postgraduate researcher a GradStar awardee

Posted on October 30, 2017


Hilde von Grunning was announced as one of the top 100 students in the prestigious GradStar Awards for 2017. She is an MSc student in the Malaria Parasitology Molecular Laboratory under the SARChI Chair in Sustainble Malaria Control with Prof Lyn-Marie Birkholtz in the Department of Biochemistry and also a member of the University of Pretoria Institute for Sustainable Malaria Control (UP ISMC).

Von Grunning's MSc work is titled CRISPR/Cas9 mediated deletion of genes encoding putative cell cycle regulators in Plasmodium falciparum. In this study, key regulators of the atypical cell cycle of the P. falciparum parasite have been identified and subsequently genetically modified using the renowned CRISPR genome editing tool. This has been done to prove that these regulatory elements are essential for parasite survival and could thus be targeted in future chemical intervention strategies.

The prestigious GradStar Awards recognises South Africa's Top 100 talented university students who not only excel academically, but also display leadership and involvement in their respective fields. Students were identified based on a stringent four stage judging process by means of worksheets, oral presentations and questionnaires. The criteria include the candidate's ability to think logically and out of the box, solve problems, attitude, altruism commitment, and communication skills. Thirty students from the University of Pretoria were selected. The event, hosted by BlackBark Productions, took place at the Indaba Hotel, Spa and Conference Centre from 27 to 28 September 2017. Students and potential employers were connected to discuss relevant topics and current affairs as part of workshops and engagement sessions. Notable attendees included the remarkable GradStar patron and motivational keynote speaker, Dr David Molapo, and South Africa's youngest parliament member, Hlomela Bucwa, who both delivered passionate talks on embracing life, becoming active members of society and leading the path to finding solutions to SA's challenges in the future. Companies involved included Fasken Martineau, FNB, Comair, PWC and Khonology. This allowed students not only to network and learn from the involved industries, but meet and be mentored by the RisingStar Award holders.

The 30 Gradstar students from the University of Pretoria

All students found the event fruitful and a wonderful opportunity to build lasting professional relationships with fellow students and professionals in industry. A gala evening was held to celebrate all the exceptional Stars and the achievements of the shining future leaders of tomorrow.

For more information on the GradStar awards go to http://gradstar.co.za/ and the official Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/GradStarSA/.




- Author University of Pretoria Institute for Sustainable Malaria Control

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