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Moonsamy Becomes the First Student to Have her Masters thesis in Biotechnology Converted into a PhD at Durban University of Technology

Ghaneshree Moonsamy achieved an extraordinary accomplishment when her thesis for a Masters degree in Biotechnology at the Durban University of Technology (DUT), was converted into a PhD thesis because of its superior quality.

“Due to the content and quality of my Masters, my supervisors suggested that we attempt to apply for a degree conversion from a master’s to a doctoral degree. I was successful in this application and was the first student to ever do this at DUT,” said the confident Moonsamy who will be conferred with her PhD in Biotechnology on Tuesday evening at the Fred Crookes Sports Centre, Steve Biko Campus in Durban.

Despite taking some time to complete his thesis, Moonsamy said she is proud of her remarkable achievement. “It’s still surreal, I am unsure how I feel about it, because it has been such a monumental journey. So many extreme highs and terrible lows. I am so glad to have made it to the finish line,” she said excitedly.

The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (SCIR), Senior Researcher said her study was based on the development of a production process for a probiotic microorganism, used in abalone aquaculture. “Abalone, or “perlemoen” is a seafood delicacy that is cultivated primarily in land-based aquaculture systems. The South African abalone industry in particular, is under severe pressure due to illegal harvesting and poaching of this seafood delicacy. In addition to the illegal harvesting, the growth of the abalone is extremely slow, and as a result, supply seldom meets global demand. Probiotics can be used in abalone production as a mechanism to boost growth rate and limit disease proliferation,” she said.

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“This study focused on the development of a bioprocess technology for the production of Vibrio midae, a probiotic of value in abalone aquaculture. In this study, a cultivation process, medium composition and product formulation were tailor-made to produce this probiotic in a high efficiency production process. The demonstration of this technology at full manufacturing scale resulted in a patented technology, and has highlighted the attractiveness and commercial feasibility of this production process,” she added.

The Verulam – born Moonsamy said her journey was not always easy particularly on the personal front, but nonetheless she persevered. “I would have preferred if I had completed my doctoral degree in a shorter time period, however, I realised that everything happens at the right time, in God’s time, and not in my time,” she said.

She also expressed gratitude to her parents, supervisors and colleagues. “From a young age my parents have been constantly instilling the value of education, determination, hard work and perseverance. This success is a culmination of these factors in my life. My supervisors and team at CSIR have also been instrumental,” said Moonsamy.

For Moonsamy the sky is certainly the limit, as she is currently pursing another qualification, a Masters degree in Management in Innovation Studies at the University of Witwatersrand. “My future plan is to use the skills set that I have acquired, and the ones that I am yet to acquire to make a positive impact and useful contribution to society. I feel strongly about the potential of our country, and truly believe that science and technology can bring about the change that is required. I am passionate about education, training and all things STEMI related, and wish to execute my mission statement of “people, passion, purpose” to the best of my ability,” she added.

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