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College of Science, Engineering and Technology

CSET Research Flagship 3: Ecotoxicology Research

Flagship Project Leader: Prof Jack Mphahlele

Background:

Since its founding in 2007, the Research Niche Area Ecotoxicology Research has evolved into a high- quality postgraduate teaching and research unit. Its high status within the scientific community is supported by the placement of our postgraduates in industry and academia and the accompanying high quality research outputs in the form of conference presentations and publications.

The field of ecotoxicology includes concepts arising from disciplines such as toxicology; biology and molecular biology; environmental (soil, water and air) sciences; analytical and organic chemistry; nano- chemistry; biochemistry; physiology; ecology; genetics; microbiology; immunology and economics.

The current projects comprising the Ecotoxicology Research Niche Area have been formulated in a manner that promotes interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary approach and are based mainly on expertise and research track record of the participating members.

Research aims:

  • Investigate the presence and distribution of chemical substances in soils, water and atmosphere and their impact on the surroundings and living matter using physicochemical methods (qualitative and quantitative analysis)
  • Isolate and characterize novel inorganic and organic compounds from natural resources believed to have biological or industrial application and to develop alternative methods for their development in the laboratories
  • Apply spectroscopic methods (atomic to molecular), quantum chemical calculations (semi-empirical, ab initio and DFT) and X-ray crystallography to structural problems
  • Establish database on medicinal, toxicological, nutritional (and cosmetics), agrochemical and industrial applications of chemicals
  • Communicate our findings in conferences, as patents and/ or in scientific journals of considerable impact factor
  • Market our products and develop effective ways of involving communities in our research activities

Development/Capacity Building aims:

  • Provide the scientific and technological leadership our country needs through postgraduate student training
  • Engage in research capacity building for student training and staff development
  • Encourage and support staff to improve their qualifications and research scholarships, and in turn expect commitment towards student training
  • Encourage staff to do research through individual action