Dr Osmond Mlonyeni, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Pretoria’s Forestry and Agricultural Biotechnology Institute (FABI), was recently appointed to The Innovation Hub’s Board of Directors.
As the first accredited Science and Technology Park in Africa, the hub aims to be an innovation agency of choice, and build Gauteng’s competitiveness by providing incubation programmes in the high technology, green economy and bio-economy sectors. Partnerships between government, industry, and academic and research institutions are important to drive innovation, and foster skills and enterprise development.
“I believe that science and scientists have a role to play and contributions to make in the socioeconomic development of society, even more so in a developing country,” says Dr Mlonyeni, who has published in international peer-reviewed journals and presented at national and international conferences. “This appointment provides me with an opportunity to be of service to my country beyond the confines of academia, but drawing from the skills and insights that develop from it.”
Dr Mlonyeni’s research forms part of a broader project aimed at understanding diversity in the Sirex-Amylostereum-Deladenus symbioses. This system serves as a model to understand the potential role of diversity in invasive pests and biological control systems. The aim is to develop tools that provide opportunities to improve the efficiency of the biological control programme against S. noctilio, but also has relevance to the management of other invasive pests.
Over the past four years, Dr Mlonyeni has been steadily excelling as a researcher. He was selected by the Royal Society to attend the Commonwealth Science Conference 2017 in Singapore, where he was one of 12 speakers that delivered an oral presentation during the PhD and postdoctoral session. His presentation was lauded as one of the top three. In 2015 he was selected as a Horst Köhler Fellow, following nominations by the Global Young Academy and Robert Bosch Stiftung to attend the 65th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting in Germany. For this meeting he was chosen as one of five young scientists from Africa to be interviewed about their research and views about science in Africa. Dr Mlonyeni is also a Mandela Rhodes Scholar and member of the Golden Key International Honour Society.
He has held various leadership positions in student-led organisations and participated in different management committees at UP. He was also Chairperson of the Postgraduate Student Association of Natural and Agricultural Sciences at the university, and a former SRC member.