“Research, teaching and learning are interwoven into the life of an academic”

Posted on October 23, 2020

Professor Sanushka Naidoo, the new Head of Biochemistry, Genetics and Microbiology in the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, details her vision for the department. 

Prof Sanushka Naidoo, current chairperson of the Next Einstein Forum’s Community of Scientists, was recently appointed Head of UP’s Department of Biochemistry, Genetics and Microbiology (BGM). Her term began on 1 October 2020.

She heads the Eucalyptus and Pine Pathogen Interactions Group and works closely with the Forest Molecular Genetics Programme, part of UP’s Forestry and Agricultural Biotechnology Institute (FABI). Prof Naidoo joined the University in 2006 as a microarray scientific officer and is currently an associate professor.

She is very excited about the future of the department. Her vision is to facilitate more academic research. “Research, teaching and learning are interwoven into the life of an academic – however, one challenge for academics is finding dedicated time to conduct research and write papers. With careful planning and time management on an individual basis, academic staff will be encouraged to produce more research outputs.”

UP is in the 501-550 range of QS World University overall ranking, she adds. “BGM academics contribute to several highly ranked fields such as plant and animal science, microbiology, agricultural sciences, biology and biochemistry – increasing outputs in research focus areas will contribute to improving UP’s ISI Web of Knowledge field rankings.”

The professor has graduated 16 MSc students (eight with distinctions) and five PhD students. She is currently the main supervisor to two PhD students and three MSc students, and a co-supervisor to one PhD student and two MSc students.

It is no wonder then that Prof Naidoo also plans to focus on mentoring academics within the department. “We continuously need to nurture and promote young, emerging researchers towards achieving a National Research Foundation (NRF) rating. Several accomplished researchers with NRF A and B ratings within the department would be able to provide guidance to junior staff members on an individual basis.”

Prof Naidoo has published more than 30 papers in international peer-reviewed journals, was awarded a Y-rating by the South African National Research Foundation (2015 – 2020), a Mellon Foundation Mentoring scholarship for her doctoral studies in plant biotechnology, and serves as president of the South African Genetics Society. She was also a Next Einstein Forum Fellow in 2017 and 2018. Prof Naidoo recently joined the editorial board of Scientific African and is an editor for Frontiers in Microbiology and Tree Physiology.


- Author Martie Meyer

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