GROUND-breaking research into Alzheimer’s disease and tumour radiotherapy treatment has earned a third-year PhD student from Port Elizabeth’s northern areas a prestigious South African Women in Science Award (Wisa).
Kim Potgieter, 26, of Heath Park, received the award in the PhD category – the only Eastern Cape recipient – in Pretoria last week.
The Department of Science and Technology (DST) hosts the awards annually to recognise the achievements of South African women scientists and researchers.
Potgieter, who completed a BSc degree cum laude in 2008, an honours degree cum laude in 2009 and a master’s degree cum laude in 2010, said she was overwhelmed to have received the award.
“My professor, Thomas Gerber, nominated me by sending in a motivation letter. Our work is very interesting and the judges saw the potential it has,” Potgieter, who is specialising in inorganic chemistry, said.
The findings of Potgieter’s research project could potentially have therapeutic applications as a treatment for Alzheimer’s disease, as well as for tumour radiotherapy.
Potgieter said her family was very excited and proud of her achievements. She said the awards were important because the field of science in South Africa was still very male-dominated.
The former Alexander Road High School pupil was also awarded the South African Chemical Institute’s James Moir Medal Award for being the top BSc chemistry honours student in 2008 and the S2A3 Medal for the most outstanding master’s dissertation (2010) in scientific disciplines.
Potgieter also won the 2011 Nelson Mandela Young Achievers Award in the academic category.
She was also awarded a bronze medal by the SA Association for the Advancement of Science for the best MSc (by thesis) in Science.