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22 August 2018
Prof Coetzee is retelling old stories in a new book
"Failing to Learn Doomed to repeat" was one of the bookworks on display.

The title of Prof Jan K Coetzee’s latest book, Books & Bones & Other Things, says it all. The book looks into the many aspects that have built our society by presenting in a new way the stories contained in old books collected over the years. 

Prof Coetzee is a Senior Professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of the Free State (UFS). Books & Bones & Other Things was launched on 14 August 2018 and coincided with an exhibition of various “bookworks”   art installations by Prof Coetzee that feature old books, sculptures, artefacts, and fossils.
 
Book resulting from research programme 
   

“This is a book on books so the library is the perfect venue to launch a book on old texts as documents of life,” said Prof Coetzee.

For the past seven years he has been directing a Master’s and PhD programme in Sociology called The Narrative Study of Lives. His project, Documents of Life, from which this book came, focuses on a collection of old texts the oldest of which dates back to 1605.

“We live in storytelling societies and for as long as we can remember we have been telling stories. Over time the ability to produce books was born. Any collection of books can tell you a lot about your own life and the society you live in."

“I cannot read the stories of many of these old books because their narratives are closed. I have to re-narrate the books, change the narrative convention and present them in a way that makes sense to me. By combining the books with art and artefacts I want the books to tell their ancient stories in new ways.”

Book launches and intellectual discussions

At the book launch, Prof Corli Witthuhn, Vice-Rector: Research said: “What we have achieved with this launch and exhibition is unbelievable. We always try to create an intellectual space in the library.

“A book such as this is the pinnacle of an academic career. It is multidisciplinary and it looks at the world in a different way. That is what scholarship is about.”

A painting by Robert Hodgins was also handed over to the Johannes Stegmann Gallery, home of the corporate collection of the UFS, at the event. 

News Archive

Mathematical methods used to detect and classify breast cancer masses
2016-08-10

Description: Breast lesions Tags: Breast lesions

Examples of Acho’s breast mass
segmentation identification

Breast cancer is the leading cause of female mortality in developing countries. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the low survival rates in developing countries are mainly due to the lack of early detection and adequate diagnosis programs.

Seeing the picture more clearly

Susan Acho from the University of the Free State’s Department of Medical Physics, breast cancer research focuses on using mathematical methods to delineate and classify breast masses. Advancements in medical research have led to remarkable progress in breast cancer detection, however, according to Acho, the methods of diagnosis currently available commercially, lack a detailed finesse in accurately identifying the boundaries of breast mass lesions.

Inspiration drawn from pioneer

Drawing inspiration from the Mammography Computer Aided Diagnosis Development and Implementation (CAADI) project, which was the brainchild Prof William Rae, Head of the department of Medical Physics, Acho’s MMedSc thesis titled ‘Segmentation and Quantitative Characterisation of Breast Masses Imaged using Digital Mammography’ investigates classical segmentation algorithms, texture features and classification of breast masses in mammography. It is a rare research topic in South Africa.

 Characterisation of breast masses, involves delineating and analysing the breast mass region on a mammogram in order to determine its shape, margin and texture composition. Computer-aided diagnosis (CAD) program detects the outline of the mass lesion, and uses this information together with its texture features to determine the clinical traits of the mass. CAD programs mark suspicious areas for second look or areas on a mammogram that the radiologist might have overlooked. It can act as an independent double reader of a mammogram in institutions where there is a shortage of trained mammogram readers. 

Light at the end of the tunnel

Breast cancer is one of the most common malignancies among females in South Africa. “The challenge is being able to apply these mathematical methods in the medical field to help find solutions to specific medical problems, and that’s what I hope my research will do,” she says.

By using mathematics, physics and digital imaging to understand breast masses on mammograms, her research bridges the gap between these fields to provide algorithms which are applicable in medical image interpretation.

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