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Multinational optical and optoelectronic technology company, ZEISS South Africa, granted bursaries to two brilliant young South African students, Loretta Magagula and Sthembile Mbotwe, this year to assist them in completing their doctoral studies.

ZEISS Strategic Project Manager, Vani Naidoo says the two beneficiaries were selected for their outstanding work in physiology and biomedical sciences. “Sthembile and Loretta both belong to research teams doing ground-breaking work in their respective fields. They are rising science stars and we are delighted to be sponsoring their studies. After all, we have a vested interest in encouraging the next generation of scientists.”

Magagula’s is pursuing a Phd in Medical Biochemistry at the University of Cape Town within the Biomedical Translational Research Initiative (BTRI). Her project focuses on identifying and visualising specific breast and colorectal cancer-causing mutations within the South African population in a field that is almost entirely populated by Eurocentric data.

She was awarded a ZEISS bursary in 2017 to assist with her doctoral studies. “I have used ZEISS equipment throughout my post-graduate studies at the University of Pretoria (UP) and UCT.

“French-American painter, sculptor, chess player and writer, Marcel Duchamp, once described artmaking as “making the invisible visible”. My only goal as an aspiring cellular biologist is to do the same. This has been realised by using powerful microscope created by ZEISS to visualise discrete and stochastic transcriptional events at nanometre range. I look forward to uncovering more of the invisible as I progress through my career,” adds Magagula.The second recipient of a ZEISS bursary is Sthembile Mbotwe, who is investigating the effect of aspirin and lipid binding protein in hypercoagulability induced by lipopolysaccharide for her Phd at the University of Pretoria.

While completing her Masters (which she passed cum laude), Mbotwe approached the dean about obtaining funding to study for a doctorate degree. “There was nothing available at the time, but in late 2015, my supervisor contacted me about a bursary from ZEISS. In 2016, I was awarded the bursary and commenced work on my Phd later in the same year,” says Mbotwe, who is also a frequent user of ZEISS equipment.

Having left a job at the Health Society of South Africa to further her studies, Mbotwe is eager to complete her Phd and get back into the working world. “I’m excited about getting back into the industry. I hope the world is ready for me, because I am ready for the world. Thank you to ZEISS for helping me achieve my ambitions,” she says.

Naidoo says ZEISS wishes the two beneficiaries well in their endeavours. “We are proud to be associated with these two brilliant young minds. We expect them to make great contributions to humanity and the field of science in the years to come.”

Loretta Magagula and Sthembile Mbotwe are available to do interviews, should you interested.

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