Postgraduate Students

Current Postgraduate Students part of the UP ISMC

 

PhD students
   

Ms Nicola Greyling

Department: Biochemistry, Microbiology and Genetics; Division Biochemistry

Degree: PhD Biochemistry

Year: 1st

Project: Transcriptional mechanisms underlying gametocyte stage differentiation in Plasmodium falciparum

Project description: Plasmodium falciparum gametocytes undergo unique stage transitions during maturation relative to that observed in other Plasmodium species. My project aims to divine the molecular mechanisms governing dynamics of gametocytogenesis on a transcriptional level by exploiting intrinsic differences between the stage transitions of P. falciparum clinical isolates. Results from my PhD will gain insight into the regulatory factors driving P. falciparum stage transitions ultimately, contributing to our knowledge of the unique developmental processes required for P. falciparum sexual differentiation and associated biological processes.

Supervisor: Prof Lyn-Marie Birkholtz  

     

Ms Mariska Naude

Department: Biochemistry, Microbiology and Genetics; Division Biochemistry

Degree: PhD Biochemistry

Year: 2nd

Project: Profiling gametocytocidal compounds for malaria elimination strategies

Project description: Plasmodium falciparum parasites are the causative agent of the most severe form of malaria and concerns regarding the emergence of parasite resistance to current antimalarials exist. There is a need for the development of novel antimalarials that specifically target the transmissible, gametocyte stages of the parasite that will ensure complete clearance of these stages and ultimately blocking transmission, which is currently not achieved with compounds that target both asexual and gametocyte stages. Screening cascades for the identification of such a compound is time-consuming and labour intensive due to the dependence of the development of mosquito stages. My study aims to develop gametocyte screening assays for quicker and easier screening of compounds with transmission-blocking activity as this will contribute to drug discovery initiatives.

Supervisor: Prof Lyn-Marie Birkholtz, 

Co-supervisor: Dr Jandeli Niemand

     

Ms Hilde von Grüning

Department: Biochemistry, Microbiology and Genetics; Division Biochemistry

Degree: PhD Biochemistry

Year: 3rd

Project:

Project description: My project is focused on the combinatorial histone code of both the transmissible sexual stages as well as the proliferative, clinically relevant asexual stages of the P. falciparum parasite. The aim of this project is to exploit the utter dependence of the malaria parasite on epigenetic control during both the asexual and gametocyte stages of development by validating histone post-translational modifying enzymes as drug targets for malaria transmission blocking strategies, thereby resulting in a loss of licensing of epigenetic markers and associated downstream cascades with subsequent aberrant gene transcription and parasite death. Ultimately, a clearer understanding of the full extent and functional complexity of the combinatorial histone code could contribute to our knowledge base of the unique developmental processes required for P. falciparum sexual differentiation and other biological processes.

Supervisor: Prof Lyn-Marie Birkholtz

Co-supervisor:

     
MSc students
   

Ms Fiona Els

Department: Biochemistry, Microbiology and Genetics; Division Biochemistry

Degree: MSc Biochemistry

Year: 2nd

Project: Investigating the functional importance of potassium channels in gametocytogenesis

Project description: I am researching the potassium ion channels present in both the sexual and asexual stage of the parasite life cycle. We are looking at the effect of inhibiting or removing the potassium channel on differentiation and proliferation of the parasite.

Supervisor: Prof Lyn-Marie Birkholtz

Co-supervisor:

     

Mr Mcebisi Mabuza

Department: Plant and Soil Science

Degree: MSc Medicinal Plant Science

Year: 2nd

Project: Isolation and characterization of antiplasmodial secondary metabolites from Pappea capensis.

Project description: The research explores the antimalarial properties of the Pappea capensis (Jacket plum) plant commonly used by Vhavenda people in South Africa to treat malaria and its symptoms. The antiplasmodial activity of both polar as well as non-polar crude extract has been validated. However, the specific metabolites responsible for the observed activity are not known. Through the application of chromatographic fractionation procedures, NMR-Based Metabolomics and GC-MS the research attempts to isolate and characterize pure compounds with antiplasmodial properties. These compounds will then be further explored as possible malaria drug leads.

Supervisor: Dr Johanna Bapela

     

Ms Takalani Makhanthisa

Department: Zoology and Entomology

Degree: MSc Entomology

Year: 3rd

Project: Effectiveness of cattle-administered endectocides to reduce malaria-vector mosquitoes.

Project description: Endectocides drugs such as ivermectin and fipronil are ecto- and endo-parasiticides that are used globally to control ticks and helminths on livestock. Endectocides have been shown to have an effect against malaria mosquitoes. This study investigated the effectiveness of endectocides against the survival and fecundity of Anopheles arabiensis

Supervisor: Prof Heike Lutherman

Co-supervisor: Prof Leo Braack

     

Mr Nhlakanipho Nzama

Department: Plant and Soil Science

Degree: MSc Medicinal Plant Science

Year: 1st

Project: Pharmacological activity of compounds from Tabernaemontana elegans

Project description: Tabernaemontana elegans is a medicinal plant used to treat various infectious diseases. In a previous project, extracts showed good activity against gonorrhoea and malaria. The aim of this project is to isolate compounds from the extracts to access which compounds are responsible for the activity.

Supervisor: Dr Johanna Bapela

Co-supervisor:

     

Ms Danielle Oosthuizen

Department: Visual Arts

Degree: MA Fine Arts

Year: 2nd

Project: Aesthetics of Creation for a Post-natural World: Science and Art for a Semi-living Utopia

Project description: In the dissertation and the accompanying series of artworks I focus on humanity’s embroiled relationship with nature by considering how an artist may use art to ‘inset’ scientific research into new contexts to allow the viewer to share in the implications and responsibilities that result from human effects on the environment. The research aims to uncover some of the aesthetic and affective strategies employed by artists to engage viewers with scientific research and findings. Conducted from a Visual Arts perspective alongside the UP ISMC and the School of Music, the focus of the research falls on challenging humanity’s understanding of what malaria is and the use of harmful dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane pesticides and its toxic long-term genetic consequences for both human and animal species.

Supervisor: Dr. Adéle Adendorff

Co-supervisor: Prof Tiaan de Jager

     

Ms Precious Ramontja

Department: Plant and Soil Science

Degree: MSc Medicinal Plant Science

Year: 2nd

Project: 

Project description: 

Supervisor: Dr Johanna Bapela

Co-supervisor:

     

 

 

 

Published by Taneshka Kruger

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