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Ntombizodwa Vundla

2019 Intern

Ntombizodwa Vundla grew up in rural KwaZulu-Natal where the only source of water is a nearby untreated river. Much of the disease-causing bacteria in water cannot be seen by the naked eye and puts communities like hers at risk. Now, armed with her Chemistry degrees, Ntombizodwa is working to address the social impacts of degrading natural systems that cause further harm downstream.

With a Master of Science degree in Chemistry from the University of KwaZulu-Natal, she has begun her career as a Water Quality Analyst intern at the Knysna Basin Project.

We asked her to share some of her insights:

What motivated your career choice?
I was in primary school when I decided I wanted to be a Scientist. I had just started doing Natural Sciences and some of the lessons involved laboratory experiments. I was hooked immediately and I knew then and there that I wanted to be a Chemist.
What do you hope to gain from the internship?
I am most excited about using the information I have learned during my studies in real world situations. It has been amazing to see how relevant my degree is. I hope to meet as many people as possible from varying backgrounds, including other interns and Scientists.
What excites you the most about the internship?
I love being in the laboratory but what excites me is that I also get to do a lot of field work. I enjoy going out and collecting samples and then coming back to do the analysis. I am never bored and I doubt I ever will be.
What do you think is the biggest environmental issue the world is facing right now?
A huge problem is pollution in its various forms, including physical, chemical and biological. Physical pollution is the easiest to address since everyone can see its effects. Chemical and biological pollution pose a bigger threat because we cannot see it. This is the biggest issue for me because people are the largest contributors. It can be avoided through researching and developing more sustainable waste management protocols and then communicating these ideas to the public.
What contribution do you wish to make to the well-being of people and nature?
I hope to help people understand their surrounding environment a bit more and the vital role it plays in our lives. The small steps we take as individuals make all the difference.
If you had a chance to change one thing in the world, what would it be?
Our houses are clean because we sweep and mop them regularly. Our biggest home is the environment and it also needs to be cleaned regularly.
Who do you admire the most and why?
I admire Dr Roshila Moodley who supervised my Masters degree. She somehow balances being smart, kind, assertive and supportive, which are rare qualities. Her approachability made working with her a pleasure. Having and showing respect to one another greatly determines how productive our collaboration can be. This is an important skill to have since solving the world’s environmental crisis will be a team effort.
What role do you think your generation could play in creating a better world for all?
This generation has had more opportunities to access higher education. There is a great deal of information that, if properly shared and implemented, could solve many of the problems we face. We will be able to do so much for the country and the world if we work together towards a common goal.

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