Dean’s 2023 Welcome Message to StudentsIt is with the greatest of pleasure that I, as Dean of the Faculty of Natural Sciences, welcome you students either back to campus, or onto campus and to our Faculty for the first time. I also want to take this opportunity to wish you all a wonderful and blessed 2023.
To the first-year students, you join us at a remarkable moment in campus, Faculty and – yes – world history. The Faculty has decided that this year we will have a complete return to campus, meaning that all undergraduate and postgraduate students will be attending in-person classes.
To those starting their adventures in higher learning, you will experience the campus as it was before the pandemic. You will be sitting in lecture halls and classrooms facing your lecturers in person, while being surrounded by your flesh-and-blood classmates.
A full return does pose certain logistical challenges, yes, but as I’ve said before, this is how we believe a modern university campus should be experienced. For all its virtues, there is a part of the student experience that cannot fully be reproduced in the online environment. There is nothing like sharing a meal or a drink, or even just a chat, on a campus with friends around you.
To the students whose only experience of life ‘on’ a university campus has been of the virtual or hybrid kind, some adjustments may be required. Trackpants and bare feet are behind us, other than for those who like to keep things casual. For those who remember university life before the pandemic, welcome back to the new normal.
To all of you, I really wish the best of fortunes with your studies. This is a remarkable time in your lives, a truly unique experience.
Being a student or staff member on a university campus anywhere in the world is a privilege. It has been shown that only 6% of South Africans have university degrees. That makes us, yes, an elite. But we cannot be elitist. It was our much-beloved President Nelson Mandela who said about the privilege of education and personnel growth: “Education is the great engine of personal development. It is through education that the daughter of a peasant can become a doctor, that a son of a mineworker can become the head of the mine, that a child of farm workers can become the president of a great nation.”
To me, those words are a poignant reminder of the responsibility we bear as degree holders. It is a responsibility not just towards our loved ones, but also to our country and the world. Covid-19 highlighted why the scientific disciplines represented and housed by our Faculty matter. Amid the confusion and uncertainties over the past three years, much of the world turned to the life- and natural sciences for answers.
So, remember to do the very best that you can during your time at UWC, to take advantage of the opportunities you have here.
But – and this is as important – remember to have fun, to make new friends, and to learn more about the world we humans call home. One day you will look back and be reminded just how special this time was. Do not waste it.
Professor Burtram Fielding
Dean: Faculty of Natural Sciences, University of the Western Cape
10 January 2023
To prepare students, the Medical Biosciences programme teaches students anatomy, physiology and medical microbiology thereby providing an understanding of the structure and function of the human body, and how the body protects itself against disease.
Our Department revolves around two axes of teaching and research: Statistics with specialisation in Data Science and Population Studies. Two growing and important fields as data become more and more used everywhere and every day for planning purposes and to understand the challenges of our modern societies: from stock markets, medical research, economic forecasting to human populations.
Our primary focus is the development and implementation of computational methodologies which allow researchers to accelerate their genomics data analyses. SANBI aims to heighten awareness of bioinformatics in South Africa and to assist the country in making optimal use of bioinformatics tools.
Our role is to develop an awareness and understanding by reconnecting students with nature, to inspire them to find a new appreciation for their natural surroundings, thus having an important bearing on future decision-making by the same individuals.
As such, they introduced a dedicated postgraduate programme for training in nanoscience and nanotechnology.