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26 February 2019 | Story Eugene Seegers | Photo Eugene Seegers
Prof Francis Petersen, Rector and Vice-Chancellor, Prof Daniella Coetzee, South Campus Principal, Tshegofatso Setilo, Director Access, Prof Prakash Naidoo, Vice-Rector Operations
Prof Francis Petersen, Prof Daniella Coetzee (Principal: South Campus), Tshegofatso Setilo (Head: Access Programmes), and Prof Prakash Naidoo (Vice-Rector: Operations) on the South Campus for the welcoming of first-years.


“Welcome to the South Campus of the University of the Free State!” Addressing a packed Madiba Arena, Prof Francis Petersen, Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the UFS, said he was happy to see not only first-year students, but also parents and guardians, student leadership, and support staff from both the Bloemfontein and South Campuses.

 “I would like to congratulate each of our first-year students for making the decision to come to Kovsies to further your studies here. But I would also like to thank you for making this choice,” he continued.

Prof Petersen further emphasised that the students’ experience and success as individuals are important to the UFS as an institution; therefore, academic and support staff are on hand to guide them through their journey to becoming well-rounded individuals. “We will surely take care of you,” said Prof Petersen. He also reassured parents and guardians that their loved ones would be well looked after.

The Rector also focused attention on the role of student-leadership structures, such as the newly-formed Institutional Student Representative Council (ISRC) and South Campus SRC, members of which were present in the audience. He thanked them for playing a key role in the student constituency, highlighting their support and guidance to help first-years cultivate a sense of belonging at the UFS.

Turning back to first-year students, Prof Petersen stated that they have the unique opportunity to study on a campus specifically focused on developing their full potential, a campus where they can realise their dreams. “Your arrival on the campus marks a new chapter in your life. This chapter is slightly different, as you are the author thereof. The previous chapters in your life were largely written by others—your parents, guardians, families, teachers, and others. You will now be the main author in the next chapter of your unique story.”

“At Kovsies, we believe in developing students in their totality as human beings, not just the academic side. May your time with us equip you to make a success of your life after university!”

Prof Petersen’s Message to First-year Students
  1. Take responsibility for your academic programme.
    • Keep your focus. Study and study hard. You will reap the rewards and see the advantages of making success in your studies a top priority.
    • Make sure that you have enough time for your studies; balance your social life and your time set aside to study.
  2. Realise and remember that you are not alone.
    • If you find things difficult, seek help.
    • Our Department of Student Counselling and Development has trained staff and tailor-made programmes that can assist you.
    • Look after your mental health—and look after each other’s mental health.
  3. Make the most of your time at Kovsies.
    • Join one or more of the student organisations; why not try something new?
  4. Embrace difference and diversity.
    • Get to know students who are different from you.
    • You will lose valuable opportunities to grow if you only associate with your own all the time. It is important to get to know students who are different from you. It could be someone from a different part of the country, or from another country, a different ethnicity, a different religion, someone who has different views from yours, or who has different interests and perspectives.

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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