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12 September 2019 | Story Valentino Ndaba | Photo Charl Devenish
Arbor tree plant
To celebrate National Arbor Week the University of the Free State has embarked on a drive to plant 150 trees during the month of September

If you’ve wondered whether Arbor Month was important, you only have to look at the destruction and long-term damage that deforestation causes to the environment and the world’s inhabitants. To observe National Arbor Month, the University of the Free State’s has (UFS) kick-started a drive to plant 150 trees during the month of September.

To launch this initiative, the Rector and Vice-Chancellor, Prof Francis Petersen, alongside members of the rectorate, assisted the University Estates team in planting the first 10 of 100 trees at the Bloemfontein Campus on Wednesday 4 September 2019. A total of 50 trees will be planted on the Qwaqwa Campus.

Towards a sustainable future

“We have gone through periods of drought in the Free State that have severely impacted not only the plants but the trees on our campuses. The idea is to emphasise sustainability, and as a university, we believe that sustainability is important. As an education institution, we have to look at the generations that are still to come to our campuses,” said Prof Petersen.

He urged the Kovsie community to ensure that all practices across the campuses are linked to global standards of sustainability. “As we develop over the next couple of months and years, we will get much closer alignment between what we are doing as a university and the Sustainable Development Goals.

Drought-resistant man-made forests

Clusters of mini forests across the campuses will be created with a variety of trees including the karee, white karee, white stinkwood, and wild olive. These indigenous trees can adapt well to different soils including those that are poorly drained.

Celebrating Arbor Week

This year’s campaign was held under the theme Forests and Sustainable Cities. As part of the celebration, University Estates made a commitment to the environment by embarking on the green initiative which includes other project such as the upgrade of Red Square on the Bloemfontein Campus.

News Archive

Student receives international award in microbiology
2008-01-24

A postgraduate student at the University of the Free State (UFS) received an exceptional honour last month when he received the first prize for his presentation in the Biochemistry and Industrial Mycology session of the Asian Mycology Congress (AMC) held in Malaysia.

Desmond Ncango (24), a Ph.D. student from the Department of Microbial, Biochemical and Food Biotechnology received the first prize for his presentation on the inhibitory effects of non-steroidal anti inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin on fungi.

This suggests that commonly used aspirin may be used as a cheap antifungal to combat yeast infections. Desmond also exposed novel lubricants that are used by yeasts for water-propelled movement. This may find application in nanotechnology in the lubrication of nanorobots, which are manmade miniature machines, invisible to the naked eye, which may in future be used to combat diseases such as cancer.

The conference, which was attended by more than 300 representatives from 27 countries, is a platform for mycologists (who are experts in fungi) around the world to come together and share their knowledge and research. “Many interested researchers listened to my presentation and were impressed by the novelty and scientific depth of my work,” said Desmond.

“The presentation was selected as the best because of its novelty, academic depth as well as applicability. The meticulous preparation and presentation style also contributed to the success,” said Prof. Lodewyk Kock, head of the Lipid Biotechnology Group at the department and main promoter of Desmond’s Ph.D. studies.

“I cannot really explain the feeling when my presentation was selected as the best as it was presented in a very difficult category and many senior researchers and professors also participated. I plan to use all the knowledge and skills I have learnt from Prof. Kock, who is my role model, especially to the benefit of disadvantage communities in South Africa. I want to follow an academic career at a tertiary institution when I have completed my Ph.D. studies,” said Desmond.

Desmond went to school in Botshabelo, Bloemfontein and completed his Grade 12 in 2000 with a distinction in Mathematics. He enrolled for a B.Sc. degree at the UFS, majoring in Microbiology and Physiology. After obtaining this qualification, he joined the postgraduate research group of Prof. Kock. He completed his M.Sc. degree with distinction last year and was privileged to have this research published in and on the cover of the Canadian Journal of Microbiology, a journal accredited by the Institute for Scientific Information (ISI).

He was one of six postgraduate students from the Lipid Biotechnology Group who attended the AMC conference in Malaysia. The students’ attendance was funded by the South African Fryer Oil Initiative (SAFOI), which is housed in the UFS Department of Microbial, Biochemical and Food Biotechnology. This initiative, steered by Prof. Kock, currently monitors edible oils in the food industry in South Africa and makes a quality seal available to the manufacturers and distributors of these edible oils.

“SAFOI’s income is used to fund my own research on various kinds of oils (including yeast oils) to enable postgraduate students to attend international congresses and to partially fund international scientific symposia and congresses,” said Prof. Kock.

 

Media Release
Issued by: Lacea Loader
Assistant Director: Media Liaison
Tel: 051 401 2584
Cell: 083 645 2454
E-mail: loaderl.stg@ufs.ac.za 
24 January 2008

 

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