When Ghaneshree Moonsamy completed her thesis for a degree in Biotechnology at the Durban University of Technology (DUT), she was advised by her supervisors to apply for a degree conversion due to the content and quality of her work.
Being successful at the application, the South-African student’s thesis for her master’s has been converted into a PhD thesis, making her the first student to achieve such an incredible feat at the university.
“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,” said Moonsamy, who is elated about her amazing achievement.
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Born in Verulam, north of Durban in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, Moonsamy’s journey towards this feat has been challenging, but she never gave up.
“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.
Her study was based on the development of a production process for a probiotic microorganism, used in abalone aquaculture, according to the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).
“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.”
“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.”
From a young age, Moonsamy’s parents have been her backbone, as they regularly imparted into her 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.
The hardworking and talented young woman is done yet. At the moment, she is pursuing 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 said.