11 August 2021 | Story Leonie Bolleurs | Photo Supplied

Staff and students from departments in the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences at the University of the Free State (UFS) participated in this year’s annual Flash Fact competition. 

Liesl van der Westhuizen in the Office of the Dean: Natural and Agricultural Sciences, and Dr Frans O'Neill, Senior Lecturer and Programme Director: Biochemistry, coordinated this initiative that allows staff and students to not only talk about their work, but to learn about other research and collaboration opportunities in the faculty. “The Flash Fact competition is a quick and entertaining way to disseminate information within and between departments,” states Van der Westhuizen. 

Talk about it

Since 2018, the annual Flash Fact competition, which is now in its third year, has – in one day – exposed the UFS Natural and Agricultural Science community to, among others, mathematical processes, chemistry, biochemistry, the building sciences, animals, plants, microbes, and agriculture. Van der Westhuizen says she is amazed at the interesting research that the university is engaged in. Dr O’Neill adds that, due to the wide range of fields within the faculty, it is difficult to choose the most interesting presentation, but plenty of originality was displayed to present research in an entertaining and readily understandable manner. 

However, the panel of judges announced the winners according to a predetermined set of criteria in the different categories of master’s, PhD, postdoctoral fellows, and staff participants. 

The following persons were awarded third, second, and first places in this initiative, which is also a faculty outcome of the Integrated Transformation Plan:


Bathabile Makhathini – Department of Chemistry
Henry Basson – Department of Plant Sciences
Tristen Lourens – Department of Microbiology and Biochemistry

Emmie Chiyindiko – Department of Chemistry
Sander van Leusden – Department of Architecture
Gerhard de Jager – Department of Zoology and Entomology
Postdoctoral fellows

Soumya Ghosh – Department of Genetics
Howard Castelyn – Department of Plant Sciences
Krishnan Rajagopalan – Department of Physics

Dr Sandy-Lynn Steenhuisen – Department of Plant Sciences
Elizabeth Maritz – Department of Mathematics
Mpho Mafa – Department of Plant Sciences
Best of the best

The faculty winners first had to participate in a Flash Fact competition within their own departments. After that, the winners of the different departments had the opportunity to compete against each other at faculty level. According to Van der Westhuizen, the faculty winners in the master’s and PhD categories are eligible to participate in the Postgraduate School’s Three-minute thesis competition later this year. 

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