UP Microbiology PhD student wins international prize

Posted on July 22, 2019

A University of Pretoria (UP) PhD student in microbiology, Itumeleng Baloyi, was recently awarded the first prize for the best poster presentation at the Phytochemical Society of Europe (PSE) and Young Scientist Meeting (YSM) 2019 in Budapest, Hungary.

Baloyi presented her research paper titled “Anti-quorum sensing and antibiofilm activities of South African medicinal plants against uropathogens”, which won her the coveted prize. She is supervised by Dr Sekelwa Cosa from the Department of Biochemistry, Genetics and Microbiology at UP.

“I am so thankful to God for His mercies, grace and strength He has given me during my postgraduate studies. I also appreciate my supervisor Dr Cosa for the opportunity granted to showcase my research work internationally and my previous supervisors, Prof Viljoen and Prof Combrinck, that I worked with,” an elated Baloyi said.

She also expressed her gratitude to UP for the opportunity to further her studies and the PSE-YSM organisers for affording her the opportunity to present her research and be chosen as one of the best presenters.

“I am also grateful to the National Research Foundation for awarding me the PhD Innovation Scholarship, allowing me to further my studies. This was my first time travelling overseas and it has been a great experience. I received the prize with honour as a young black woman scientist who presented at the conference,” Baloyi concluded.

Dr Cosa, a lecturer in the Division of Microbiology, leads a research group focused on the use of medicinal plants/natural products to attenuate bacterial infections and attended the conference with Baloyi. The focus of the conference this year was on Trends in Natural Products Research – Biochemistry, Molecular Aspects and Pharmacology of Bioactive Natural Products. According to Dr Cosa, “this opportunity presented by PSE-YSM2019 has given UP the opportunity to showcase some of our research work we are doing”.

Baloyi joined Dr Cosa’s research group in 2018 as a PhD candidate and has been working closely with Dr Cosa since 2014 during her internship programme.

- Author Martie Meyer

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