Nonjabulo Gule

Nonjabulo Gule, a 28-year-old scientist, is guided by curiosity to uncover answers to pressing developmental problems. Gule’s PhD research in Polymer Chemistry tackled the human rights issue of how to provide clean, cheap drinking water to those most in need. Her research, which has been patented, is of consequence to the one-billion-plus people who die every year from water-related ailments. Gule produced a point-of-use filtration system using nano-sized fibres that not only destroy bacteria but also prevent bugs from attaching themselves to the surface of the fibres. In 2010 the ingenuity of her invention was recognised by Scientific American magazine, which selected it as one of “Ten Worldchanging Ideas”. Originally from Swaziland, Gule is based in Stellenbosch, where her days are consumed by her postdoctoral research and raising her four-month-old baby boy. — Taryn Mackay