UKZN lecturer Dr Alaika Kassim, who graduated with a PhD in Agricultural Engineering, is extremely passionate about her research.
The aim of her PhD study was to develop a small-scale in-field integrated post-harvest citrus treatment unit for kumquat fruit to alleviate green and blue mould. The unit condenses the processes of a packhouse into six mobile treatment zones for disinfectant, curative and preventative modes of action.
Kassim was supervised by Professor Tilahun Seyoum Workneh and Professor Mark Laing.
The first female agricultural engineer to be appointed a lecturer in the discipline of Bioresources Engineering at UKZN, Kassim was elected as the chairperson for the South African Institute of Agricultural Engineers in KwaZulu-Natal.
She says she is grateful for her mother’s strong role-model leadership in her life. With plans to develop her academic and research career further, Kassim also intends to engage in innovative research.
She borrowed words from Albert Einstein to provide encouragement for aspiring engineers: ‘Wisdom is not a product of schooling but of the lifelong attempt to acquire it.’
Kassim said those interested in engineering as a career should never tire or give up, ‘because it is really a rewarding career to pursue’.
The PhD journey was wonderful and inspiring but it was also a challenge. ‘I have not only increased my academic knowledge but have grown as a person,’ she said. ‘I was exposed to people, situations and experiences all contributing to where I am now and for that I am thankful.’
Kassim said the environment created at UKZN by the Bioresources Engineering department encouraged success. ‘This was instrumental in me obtaining my degree,’ she said.
Kassim thanked God for where she is today.
Words by: Prashina Budree