High-rising young chemist Dr Mathuba represents SA at Nobel Laureate Meeting

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Dr Penny Mathumba, Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Mintek is one of the 11 young scientists from South Africa were selected and went on to represent an emerging generation of scientists at the 71st Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting held from 26 June to 1 July 2022 in Germany.

Dr Mathumba and her counterparts joined other 600 young scientists from 91 countries worldwide who have become part of a special community and a network of excellence. 

Her nomination formed part of a multistep application process by the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf) and the final selection by the Council for the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting. About 35 Nobel Laureates attended the meeting and welcome the outstanding qualifications and the great diversity of nationalities of the cohort of young scientists.

Dr Mathumba is inspired to be in the presence of the Nobel Laurette, which is regarded as a prestigious scientific award in the field of chemistry.  For Dr Mathumba, meeting a Nobel Laureate and having an opportunity to listen to them speak is a great privilege and eye-opening experience.

She said, “My goal in research is to make important scientific discoveries that shake the field of Physical and Applied Chemistry to help improve the quality of life.”

“The opportunity to attend the meeting provided me with expertise in the dissemination of Chemistry knowledge creation, and community engagement to solve practical challenges faced by the society and contribute to the administration of the organisation which would add value to my existing skills”, she said.

Dr Mathumba holds a PhD in Chemistry from the University of the Western Cape. She has published over six multidisciplinary articles in peer-reviewed Journals on water purification and renewable energy. 

“I grew up in Bushbuckridge and we didn’t have much access to clean purified water, so we had to fetch water from the river. Currently I am working on building a point of use water and purification system for that area.”  

She currently works in the Advanced Materials Division at Mintek where she is involved in the optimisation of an adsorbent research project for water decontamination which has seen a lot of scientific advancement.

Some of the topics that were discussed at the Germany forum include a panel discussion on trust in science and chemistry, and a talk by pharmacologist Louis Ignarro on his Nobel prize-winning discovery.

Ignarro, along with Robert Furchgott and Ferid Murad, received the prize in 1998 in the category of physiology and medicine for discovering that nitric oxide acts as a molecule that provides signals to the heart and blood vessels.  


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