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Sinazo becomes the first black African female to graduate Cum Laude in Biotech

Author: Institutional Advancement: (021) 959 2625

Master’s student, Sinazo Bali (23) becomes the first black African female to obtain an Honours degree cum laude from University of the Western Cape’s (UWC) department of Biotechnology.

​Sinazo becomes the first black African female to graduate Cum Laude in Biotech


Master’s student, Sinazo Bali (23) becomes the first black African female to obtain an Honours degree cum laude from University of the Western Cape’s (UWC) department of Biotechnology.


Sinazo’s study aims to investigate the effects of osmotic stress imposed by varying concentrations of PEG 8000 on the physiological and biochemical responses of Salvia hispanica L  plant (Chia).

Her research results showed that lower concentrations of osmotic stress (imposed by PEG 8000 at 5%) did not significantly alter seed germination and morphology compared to the untreated control plants, whereas the opposite was observed at higher concentrations (at 10% and 20%).


Her findings presented in the study suggest that chia can resist moderate levels of osmotic stress but sensitive at higher levels. Chia is a pseudocereal crop that is native to Southern and Central Mexico, mostly arid and semi-arid environments. It is however is now commercially cultivated in Australia which has similar climatic conditions as South Africa.


Bali will be among 4 205 students graduating at of the University of the Western Cape’s autumn graduation ceremonies. The 23-year old says her hard work has finally paid off as she has spent hours in the laboratory making sure that she completes her second degree.


“I chose to come and study at UWC because my father studied and continues to study here. I think coming to UWC has helped me not only academically, but has enabled me to also learn more about people, culture and leadership skills, as well as believing in myself and learning about the rich history of this prestigious institution and our country at large.”


Sinazo adds that getting her research project up and running has not been an easy process as she couldn’t even secure funding for her studies, but with the support of family she was able to complete it, “It’s not easy to get funding because they score you according to your marks and you have to give feedback every now and then”, she says.


The East London born researcher says her Supervisor Dr Ashwil Klein introduced her and fellow lab mates to the plant Chia, and came up with the idea of studying the plant and giving it its own database, because it was found to be drought resistant compared to other plants like maize.


Sinazo is among 635 honours graduates for the autumn 2017 graduation season. She is also in the top three in Biotechnology at UWC.


“I am looking forward to this new chapter of my life, but at the moment I am focussing on my Masters. I still need to decide whether or not I will do my PhD. Maybe if my dad does his, I will be motivated to do mine”, she added.


Sinazo said she is really proud of herself for being the first black African female to graduate Cum Laude in Biotechnology.


During this autumn graduation week from 5 to 13 April 2017, the University will celebrate 4 205 graduates from its 7 Faculties - including 50 Doctoral Degrees, 203 Masters Degrees, 635 Honours Degrees, 2 599 Undergraduate Degrees, 349 Diplomas and 369 Certificates.


On Monday, 10 April, UWC will honour Father Alan Michael Lapsley for his contribution to the Institution, for serving as the director of the Institute of Healing Memories (IHOM) and for his role in organising the “First Annual Healing of Memories Lecture: Restoring Humanity by Ela Gandhi” at UWC.


Father Alan’s values, attributes and virtues, are aligned with UWC’s institutional aims in terms of being both an example and a metaphor for community engagement and transformation through institutional practice.

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