10 top signs of why MUT Research is on the right track

4 July 2017 

Press release statement: For immediate release  

Submitted by Bheki Hlophe, Media Relations & Publications Officer

Via email: hlophe@mut.ac.za 

10 top signs of why MUT Research is on the right track  

“By 2030, MUT will be internationally recognised as an innovative and research-informed Institution that delivers excellent scientific research and other IP outputs, fosters a research ethos that provides an outstanding student learning experience and is globally connected in addressing societal and economic challenges”, is the mission that Prof Zodwa Dlamini has set for her portfolio on Research, Innovation and Engagements at MUT.

Here are the 10 top signs that show the feasibility of this mission being fulfilled even earlier:

  1. MUT has embarked on the process of internationalisation by forming partnerships with  institutions in the  A: BRICS block:
    1. International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnoloy (ICGEB-India);
    2. Institute for Chemical Technology (ICT-Mumbai)
  • University of Sao Paulo –Brazil.

B: United Kingdom: University of Nottingham

C: Europe: Dublin Institute of Technology, Ireland

D: USA: Florida Agriculture and Mechanical University (FAMU),

These partnerships will strengthen the MUT internationalisation and will not only benefit MUT but will also assist South Africa to deliver on the National Development Plan 2030 and contribute to SA’s National System of Innovation.

  1. MUT is involved in active collaborations with industry, business and South African Science statutory councils, notably the South African Medical Research Council and the South African Agricultural Research Council (ARC). Both these statutory councils have generated projects and engagements to the value of R30m. These projects and engagements have also contributed to improving the research and innovation landscape at MUT.
  2. In 2016 the Research, Innovation and Engagements portfolio initiated the first MUT Research, Innovation and Engagements Week which was funded mainly by SA-MRC, showcasing the best –practices within MUT on Research and Innovation, promoting STEM activities within MUT while setting the tone for the new RIE agenda at MUT. This event was attended by both local and international partners thus successfully putting MUT on the global map.
  3. The Research, Innovation and Engagements portfolio has successfully started a University Flagship on Environmental Sustainability where all the three MUT faculties are involved.
  4. The Research, Innovation and Engagements portfolio has initiated three University Faculty Flagships on Community Engagement to promote MUT’s partnerships with communities and successfully hosted MUT’s first Excellence Awards in Community Engagements.
  5. The Research, Innovation and Engagements portfolio has successfully secured laboratory space at SA-MRC Ridge Road, Durban to host the MUT Multidisciplinary Research Institute (M-MRIIn 2016 );
  6. The Research, Innovation and Engagements portfolio has appointed three Research Professors for the three faculties to drive research and innovation in each faculty, created a University Chair in Human Settlements funded by the Department of Human Settlements, and a Research Chair in Green Technologies funded by MerSETA;
  7. The Research, Innovation and Engagements portfolio has produced the first Annual Report for MUT Research, Innovation & Engagements for 2016;
  8. The Research, Innovation and Engagements portfolio sent the 1st International delegation to the Dublin Institute of Technology that was mainly funded by the SA-MRC and produced a partnership agreement and a delegation report; and
  9. The Research, Innovation and Engagements portfolio’s DVC is the only South African who is the member of the Council of Scientific Advisers (CSA) of the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB). The ICGEB is composed of 15 eminent scientists of the highest profile and international standing in the substantive fields of ICGEB.

Notes for the editors

  1. Profile on Professor Dlamini
  2. About the MUT Research, Innovation and Engagements week (10-14 July)

Professor Zodwa Dlamini

DVC:  Research, Innovation and Engagements, MUT

Professor Zodwa Dlamini is the current Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research, Innovation and Engagements (RIE). She is the member of the Council for Scientific Advisers (CSA) of the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB), an international scientific body composed of eminent scientists or scientists of the highest profile and international standing, nominated by member state (Ministry of Science & Technology), in the substantive fields of ICGEB (2017 July). She grew up in the KwaZulu-Natal north coast, Mahlabatini, Enhlungwane District. Professor Dlamini obtained her BSc (Biochemistry and Microbiology) and BSc.Hons (Biochemistry) at the University of the Western Cape (UWC), MSc from the University of Natal (Biotechnology) and PhD at the University of Natal (Molecular Medicine). She joined the University of Western Cape as a postdoctoral fellow (Molecular Oncology). She was then appointed as a lecturer at University of Witwatersrand (Genetics) and was promoted to a Senior Lecturer (Molecular Pathology).

She then joined the University of Limpopo (UL) as an Associate Professor in Biochemistry and interviewed successfully at University of South Africa (UNISA) in the role of Deputy Executive Dean and Full Professor in Molecular Genetics.

In June 2015, she was appointed by Mangosuthu University of Technology as the Deputy Vice Chancellor: Research, Innovation and Engagements. Her research, is a highly specialized area of molecular oncology and has been recognized internationally, evidenced by: invitations to review articles in international journals of high standing; invitations to Chair and give keynote lectures at international conferences; an appointment as an Honorary Senior Lecturer; and then a Research Fellow by the University of Bristol in the UK. She was awarded the AACR-NCI for the International Investigator Opportunity Grant in 2007. Professor Dlamini was also awarded a Royal Society Fellowship to work on splicing regulation at the University of Bristol, 2008.

She was appointed by the Minister of Health as the Vice Chairperson of the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) Board for two terms (2010-2016). She is the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf) member of the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Education Standing Committee (2015-) and was invited to be on the ASSAf Consensus Panel to peer review 23 journals in Mathematics and Science (2016-). She has recently been appointed by the Ministry of Higher Education and Training (DHET) to serve on the Department of Higher Education and Training’s Research Outputs Evaluation Panel (2017-).

As a recognised international expert, Professor Dlamini represents the National Department of Health in the Department of Science and Technology (DST) Scientific Advisory Board on Preclinical Drug Development Platform (2013-). She also serves on the DST/SAMRC National Genomics and Precision Medicine Think Tank (2016). She has successfully balanced science leadership and research focus with the training of postgraduates and maintained her international scientific reputation whilst spearheading the implementation of government related research policies.

ABOUT THE 2nd MUT RESEARCH, INNOVATION & ENGAGEMENTS (RIE) WEEK 2017 

The Office of the DVC: Research, Innovation & Engagements is proud to host yet another annual Research, Innovation and Engagements (RIE) Week. The 2017 MUT RIE is poised to be bigger and better under the aptly crafted theme: “Engaging Globally for Local Impact”. The focus and objective of the 2017 RIE Week is premised on advancing the knowledge economy in the province of KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) and beyond. This portfolio will also outline its progress in 2 years under the leadership of Professor Dlamini and where to from now.

During RIE Week from 10 – 14 July, MUT will be hosting academic institutions from all over the world as part of strengthening its global reach as a key player in global research collaboration. The international partners will be interacting and engaging with MUT staff and students as well as other key institutional stakeholders. The envisaged highlight of the MUT RIE Week will be the launch of five milestone documents of the university. These documents include the Inaugural MUT Research and Innovation Annual Report; the first MUT Research and Innovation Framework; the MUT Research and Innovation Strategic Plan; the first MUT Engagement Plan; and the first MUT Internationalisation Strategy.

The MUT’s Internationalisation Strategy and the Engagement Plan are already being implemented through the launch of the Mangosuthu University of Technology (MUT) and Ireland Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT) “twinning initiative”. The Ministry of Science and Technology will be launching the MUT CSIR-funded Electronics Testing Unit and the TIA-funded Measurement & Verification Centre. These two centres are hosted at the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) building on Ridge Road (Durban). The MUT Internationalisation Strategy as well as the Engagement Plan will be implemented through having both global and local communities interacting to advance research, innovation and the community engagement agenda. The RIE Week provides the greatest platform for interaction between academia, business, industry, government and communities to share knowledge on sessions advancing the government priorities as well as showcasing research and development at MUT and building up to the MUT Multidisciplinary Research Institute (M-MRI).

MUT will also launch its Flagship project on Climate Change, which supports environmental sustainability, and pledges MUT’s corporate citizenship. This session will focus on renewable energy, which will include both solar and bio energy, as well as a panel discussion by some members from the BRICS countries. MUT RIE Week will also host the KZN Technoparks. Key panellists from the locally and abroad will lead discussions on “research and development, entrepreneurship and SMMEs development and support”.

The Department of Science and Technology (DST), CSIR Centre for High Performance Computing (CHPC) will lead a session on Big Data Analytics.  The Director of the Centre for Genomics and Bioinformatics from the University of Louisiana, in New Orleans, USA and European Union expert through DIT, will introduce international flavour to the topic of high performance computing. This session will cut across the three MUT faculties, as there will be speakers from Engineering Sciences, Economics and Natural Sciences and Management Sciences.

On the second evening of RIE Week will be the Founders’ Dinner. This dinner marks the zenith of the MUT research agenda which takes into cognisance how MUT was founded by a sole African, Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi, who saw that there was a need for technical  education for Africans in the then Natal Province. Prince Buthelezi approached the late Sir Harry Oppenheimer, a philanthropist and business magnate, resulting in the establishment of MUT in 1979. Emboldened by this philanthropic gesture, the RIE week will:

  • Honour men, women groups and organisations who worked to build MUT into a new generation University, from top alumni who continuously find ways to partner with MUT, to leaders that have been at the helm of MUT and walked with MUT to build it into a national university;
  • Celebrate the on-going road map of developing MUT into a pre-eminent University of Technology that supports the National Systems of Innovation (NSI) and the Development Plan. This is a move towards positioning MUT for a more critical role in changing lives and fulfilling dreams of a student body from a predominantly working class; and
  • Deliver on MUT’s mission as an enabling institution that is committed to nation-building.

The session on Health and Precision Medicine will be chaired by one of the eminent researchers in Medical Science, the President and CEO of SAMRC, Professor Glenda Gray.