There was jubilation all round in the Shange-Juba household when both Dr Nompumelelo Shange and Dr Roderick Juba received their PhD degrees together on the very same day – and both in the Faculty of AgriSciences. Dr Shange received her degree in Food Science, and Dr Juba in Conservation Ecology. The couple were married in September last year during a traditional wedding in Inanda near Durban.
“Because of Covid, we had to postpone our white wedding to next year,” says Dr Shange.
The two hail from Inanda and Humansdorp respectively. They were second years, living in Erica and Helderberg residences, when their paths crossed in 2010 through mutual friends. After years of “just being friends” they started dating in 2016 when at long last both realised that they not only shared the same sense of humour, aspirations and work ethic, but are in fact soulmates and best friends.
For the past year or two, they successfully navigated the intricacies of a long distance romance caused by their shared career aspirations. While Dr Shange was based in Stellenbosch and Oudtshoorn, Dr Juba studied part-time towards his PhD, while working for Living Lands, an NGO involved in the holistic management of important catchment areas.
“I’ve learnt about persistence, perseverance and hard work from him,” says Dr Shange.
“And I’ve learnt that she’ll do anything to get things done, and that hard work is part of that,” Dr Juba adds.
They are planning to take the world by storm together, and to pay their good fortune of a good education forward by motivating and helping others to do the same.
For her PhD in Food Science, Dr Shange investigated to what degree two emerging pathogens, Campylobacter and Arcobacter, are found in the ostrich meat industry. These pathogens can cause gastrointestinal infections in humans.
“Regulations that govern the contamination of any meat products with these species are not yet in place in South Africa, but my work could serve as a good baseline should government want to put guidelines in place,” she says.
Dr Juba focused on the impact of invasive alien trees on riparian zones and the potential value that could be derived from harvesting its biomass.
Among others, he looked at the monetary value attached to producing value-added wood products made from invasive trees being chopped down.
“Bioproducts made from invasive plants, such as biochar and wood chips, can be used to varying degrees of success by wheat and canola farmers to improve soil quality,” he notes.
· Photo: Dr Roderick Juba and Dr Nompumelelo Shange on their graduation day at Stellenbosch University. Photo: Stefan Els/Stellenbosch University
· Article by Engela Duvenage