News & Events

Embracing the pursuit of knowledge

Masedi Carington Masekane

Masedi Carington Masekane, a Unisa PhD student in the College of Science, Engineering and Technology (CSET), describes himself as self-motivated and persistent. ‘I always keep the end-goal in mind,’ he says, ‘knowing what needs to be achieved and working hard to realise it under any possible circumstances. These are some of the key factors that help me to progress academically.’

Prior to his PhD studies, Masekane obtained a Master of Science (MSc) degree with distinction. His dissertation was aimed at aiding the development of heavy ion particle-induced X-ray emission (PIXE) spectroscopy by providing experimental cross-sectional data to be used for the validation of existing theoretical models and for the development of new ones. Quite a mouthful, and this rarefied field was introduced to him during his undergraduate work-integrated learning experience, then facilitated by the Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) through the NRF iThemba Laboratory for Accelerator Based Sciences (LABS).

Masekane was awarded the prize for the Nuclear, Particle and Radiation Physics division’s best MSc oral presentation at the 2018 South African Institute of Physics (SAIP) annual conference. Among others, the judgment guidelines for the competition were mainly content in terms of originality, contribution of the study and the mastering of the subject by the presenter, as well as handling of questions, areas in which he clearly performed extremely well.

He later presented part of his MSc results by poster contribution at the 2019 International PIXE conference (PIXE2019) in Caldas da Rainha, Portugal. A combination of his final MSc along with additional experimental results were presented at the 2019 International Ion Beam Analysis (IBA) conference held in Antibes, France. Masekane had entered a competition for the SFV Michel Cantarel price facilitated by the conference. He was successful in all stages and was thus awarded the prize for his talk.

Humble to a fault, Masekane praises the people who guided and supported him on his journey to success. ‘The exceptional mentorship from my supervisors, Professor Sabata J Moloi of CSET and Professor Mandla Msimanga of TUT’s Physics Department, played a significant role in the positive outcomes of my studies. The social support from family, friends and church, and keeping the faith, were all essential to sustaining good morale.’

Prof. Mantle L Lekala (Director of the School of Science), Masedi C Masekane (PhD student in the Department of Physics), Dr Dmitry V Kamanin (Head of the JINR International Cooperation Department, Joint Institute for Nuclear Research, Dubna: Russia) and Prof. Jean WA Cleymans (Physics Professor, University of Cape Town)

Masekane is currently registered for a PhD in Physics, whereby there is a pending administrative finalisation of an agreement for a joint doctoral degree between Unisa and the University of Zagreb (UniZG) in Croatia. His PhD project aims to develop the first ever African-based Heavy Ion Total IBA system, housed at the zero degree beamline of Tandem Accelerator Mass Spectrometry (TAMS) Department, iThemba LABS. It also extends from his MSc work in that additional cross-sectional measurements will be carried out to establish a database from which a new empirical model would be developed to enable the accurate implementation of Heavy Ion PIXE within the Total IBA system.

His advice to fellow Unisa students is that failure in the pursuit of knowledge is inevitable. ‘However,’ he says, ‘the beauty of patience and hard work is that you eventually get there. When you do, keep walking the walk that will certainly separate you from many in the light of growth.’

*By Nancy Legodi, Acting Journalist, Department of Institutional Advancement.

Publish date: 2020/06/25