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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

UFS Music rises to academic prominence
2007-10-18

 

From the left are: Ronella Jansen van Rensburg, Hanna van Schalkwyk, Elene Coetzer en Lizabé Lambrechts

Four postgraduate students gave prominence to the Music Department of the University of the Free State by having four academic articles published by accredited journals, and a fifth published in an international online journal.

It is the first time that a tertiary music institution in South Africa has had so many postgraduate studies published in one year, says Prof Martina Viljoen.

The students who worked under Prof Viljoen's supervision are Hanna van Schalkwyk, senior lecturer in singing at UFS; Ronella Jansen van Rensburg, part-time music lecturer and founder of the Sentraal-Kultuurakademie (Central Culture Academy); Elene Coetzer, also a part-time lecturer and involved in the Mangaung String Project; and Lizabé Lambrechts, who is still studying full-time.

Hanna and Ronella attained their master's degrees and Lizabé honours.

Hanna's research on the unique and at times unorthodox philosophy in singing and method of the pedagogue in singing Sarie Lamprecht (1923-2005) is published in the Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe (Journal for the Humanities).

The study documents interviews held with Lamprecht over more than two years as well as conversations with her most prominent students.

Ronella's study on the relationship between emotional intelligence and musical performance anxiety is divided into two successive articles in the journal Musicus.

Dr Adelene Grobler, Epog director at UFS, was Ronella's co-supervisor.

Elene conducted a qualitative investigation into the Mangaung String Programme in which the social value of this teaching programme is emphasised.

She documented the responses of learners, parents and teachers who are involved in the project. Her article is published in the Journal of the Musical Arts in Africa.

Lizebé reached out to pop culture for her research and wrote about no less a person than the controversial shock-rock-icon Marilyn Manson.

Her study serves as a model analysis for educational work that focuses on popular culture as a didactic instrument.

In this respect Manson's music, which is frequently slated as vulgar or disturbing, is shown as aggressive social comment.

Lizabé's article, which throws light on Manson's bisexual identity, was published as a full-length monograph in the first edition of the overseas online noncejournal.

In 2005 the Department of Music also excelled when it was the first academic music institution in South Africa that published international congress proceedings as a subsidised collection.

The collection contained eminent international authors and was published under the guest editorship of Viljoen.

Die Volksblad – 1.10.07

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