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25 April 2019 | Story Mamosa Makaya

Since 2016, the University of the Free State Center for Universal Access and Disability Support (CUADS) has received a grant from First National Bank worth R2 498 000, which supports tertiary bursaries for students with disabilities. Bursary holders are funded through CUADS, as the administrator of the bursaries.
  
These are students enrolled for various academic programmes who require academic assistance and/or assistive devices such as electronic handheld magnifiers, laptops, and hearing aids. The FNB grant also covers tuition, accommodation, study material and books, and meals.  The success of the grant is already evident, with one of the recipients having graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in December 2018. A second student was capped at the April 2019 graduations with a BSc Honours in Quantity Surveying.
 
Supporting the principles of the ITP

The UFS received the grant from FNB in instalments, starting in the 2016 academic year to date, supporting the needs of 40 disabled students. This grant and the work of CUADS speaks to and supports the principles of the Integrated Transformation Plan (ITP), namely inclusivity, transformation, and diversity. The vision of the Universal Access work stream is to enable the UFS to create an environment where students with disabilities can experience all aspects of student life equal to their non-disabled peers. The ITP provides for the recognition of the rights of people with disabilities as an important lesson in social justice and an opportunity to reinforce university values.

The successful administration of the grant to benefit past and present students is a ‘feather in the cap’ of CUADS, and is a shining example of the impact of public private investment and the endless possibilities that open up when there is a commitment to developing future leaders in academic spaces, allowing them to thrive by creating a learning environment that is welcoming and empowering. 



News Archive

Chemistry postgraduates tackle crystallography with eminent international researcher
2017-04-04

Description: Dr Alice Brink  Tags: Dr Alice Brink

Department of Chemistry senior lecturer, Dr Alice Brink(left),
hosted outstanding researcher, Prof Elspeth Garman (right)
from the University of Oxford in England to present a
crystallography lecture.
Photo: Rulanzen Martin



“Crystallography forms part of everyday life.” This is according to Prof Elspeth Garman, eminent researcher from the Department of Biochemistry, University of Oxford in England, who was hosted by Dr Alice Brink, Department of Chemistry at the University of the Free State (UFS) Bloemfontein Campus. Prof Garman presented a lecture in the Department of Chemistry, titled ‘104 years of crystallography: What has it taught us and where will it lead’. She also taught the postgraduate students how to refine and mount protein structures in cold cryo conditions at about -173°C.

What is Crystallography?
Crystallography is the scientific technique which allows for the position of atoms to be determined in any matter which is crystalline.
 
“You cannot complete Protein Crystallography without the five key steps, namely obtaining a pure protein, growing the crystal, collecting the data, and finally determining the structure and atomic coordinates,” said Prof Garman. Apart from teaching, she was also here to mentor and have discussions with UFS Prestige Scholars on how to face academic challenges in the professional environment.

Discovery of the first crystal structure of a TB protein

Prof Garman successfully determined the first crystal structure of a Tuberculosis protein (TBNAT), a project that took about 15 years of research. In partnership with the Department of Pharmacology at Oxford University and an outstanding PhD student, Areej Abuhammad, they managed to grow only one TBNAT crystal, one-fiftieth of a millimetre. They also managed to solve the structure and publish it.

Dr Alice Brink, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Chemistry, says, “It’s an incredible privilege to have Prof Garman here and to have her share her wisdom and knowledge so freely with the young academics.”

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