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14 May 2019 | Story Thabo Kessah | Photo Tsepo Moeketsi
Prof Ashafa
Prof Ashafa’s research documents plants used by the Basotho in the management of different ailments.

The Phytomedicine and Phytopharmacology Research Programme (PPRP) in the Department of Plant Sciences on the Qwaqwa Campus researches the biological effects of medicinal plants used in the folkloric medicine of the Eastern Free State, particularly to explore the values and contribution of indigenous knowledge systems (IKS) towards broader scientific research. This is according to the programme’s principal investigator and researcher, NRF C2-rated researcher, Professor Anofi Ashafa. 

 “Our research is mainly aimed at documenting plants used by the Basotho in the management of different ailments and to further discover, isolate, and purify active phytoconstituents that are responsible for disease curation or amelioration, thereby assisting in the global promotion of accessible and affordable medication in developing countries,” said Prof Ashafa. 

Since 2012, the PPRP has worked extensively on Basotho medicinal plants (BMP) used as antimicrobials, antioxidants, antidiabetics, antitubercular, anticancer, anthelmintic, and antidiarrheal agents, starting from biological activities up to the  evaluation of the toxicity of these plants for the kidney, liver, and heart functions in order to establish safe dosage parameters. These activities have led to the discovery of four potent antidiabetic biomolecules that are awaiting the processes of patency and commercialisation. Additional outputs include 104 published peer-reviewed articles , 7 postdoctoral fellows, 6 PhDs, 9 master’s, and 16 honours graduates. 

“Our research informs teaching and the development of expertise in ethnobotany, 
phytomedicine, and phytopharmacology in order to contribute to the National Development Plan (NDP) through human capacity development, skills, and knowledge transfer.

The group is also investigating some medicinal plants on the endangered red list of the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI), through micropropagation and field trials as well as proposing conservation strategies to preserve these valuable species.

The PPRP consists of postdoctoral fellows, PhD, master’s, and honours students and research is done in collaboration with several local and international universities as well as the Agricultural Research Council of South Africa. 


News Archive

Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching goes to trailblazer Dr Aliza le Roux
2013-11-15

 

Dr Aliza le Roux
Photo: Supplied
15 November 2013

 

Dr Aliza le Roux, Subject Head in the Department of Zoology and Entomology at the UFS Qwaqwa Campus, is this year’s winner of the Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching.

It came as no surprise. Dr le Roux has already been piling up numerous awards as a result of her outstanding work as an academic who is also an NRF-rated researcher.

In 2012, she joined the Teaching and Learning Champions group, which inspired her to take a more scholarly, research-focused approach to her teaching. Dr Le Roux has had huge successes in her teaching at the Qwaqwa Campus, propelling student pass rates from less than 50% to more than 90% in one course. As part of her approach, she makes use of interventions such as pre-class quizzes on Blackboard.

She is also doing Action Research on the teaching method known as ‘flipping’ the classroom, a process that essentially reversed traditional teaching practice. Dr le Roux is also looking into the impact of introducing Zotero (a free user-friendly online tool for research purposes) on the Qwaqwa Campus.

Her primary research outside of the classroom focuses on the evolution of wild mammals’ cognitive abilities. Dr le Roux and her students are starting fieldwork in November this year, investigating how paternal care impacts bat-eared foxes’ physical and cognitive development.

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