Dr Hlamulo Makelane

Research specialist, Human Sciences Research Council

Dr Hlamulo Makelane chose to enter research science because she wanted to make a positive difference through scientific research that matters, and is especially concerned about disturbing chemicals found in the environment.

“Science is the generation of evidencebased solutions to national and global challenges,” she explains. “I strive to explore new relationships between ideas and facts to assess the environmental impact of water related issues, to develop a device that will accurately determine the levels of organic pollutants in wastewater.”

She is currently a postdoctoral research specialist at the University of the Western Cape’s department of chemistry and the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC), with research, teaching and supervising students among her daily tasks.

Makelane has found a major challenge in her career is that science is becoming much more interdisciplinary. “I was initially trained to focus in one discipline, but the move towards interdisciplinary research has been an opportunity to contribute to work that advances critical and analytical points of view,” she says.

“Combining my comfort zone and working on the interfaces of different fields has been a great way to bring new techniques and perspective to my science research. I also believe it is a way to build my own niche and distinguish myself from others in my research field.”

Makelane has authored and co-authored several peer-reviewed journal articles, and has presented in national and international conferences. She has been recognised by the Academy of Science of South Africa as one of the top five young South Africans in chemistry and has been included in the 400 young scientists from 76 countries selected to participate in 67th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting 2017 in Lindau, Germany. The event recognises outstanding students, graduate students and post-doctoral students under 35 years of age who are conducting research in the field of chemistry.

“If you are interested in scientific research, you should challenge yourself to go beyond the first degree and you will never regret it, because of the discovery that the journey brings,” she says. “I believe that if I made it, anyone can make it too and the skills you will acquire as a research scientist will play a vital role in the development and application of new and advanced technologies in the country and the world at large,” says Makelane.

— Tamsin Oxford

Twitter: @HlamuloMakelane