Fulbright Scholarship for Environmental Science Graduate

Ms Samiksha Singh, a scientist at the Institute of Natural Resources is the recipient of a two-year Fulbright Scholarship that will enable her to pursue her PhD in the United States of America at the University of California Riverside (UCR).

Singh, who said she was grateful and delighted to have received the scholarship, is one of only three recipients in KwaZulu-Natal this year. Having always wanted to pursue a PhD, she was inspired to apply after an educational advisor from the American Embassy visited the INR to introduce young scientists to the programme. The rigorous selection process involved a yearlong series of applications, interviews and selection.

‘This is such an amazing opportunity that isn’t afforded to everyone so I am definitely going to make the most of it,’ she said.

Singh completed her Master of Science in Environmental Science at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) in 2016, undertaking research on the use of bio-indicators, specifically periphyton, to determine ecosystem health in rivers and alert scientists and managers to changes in environmental conditions. Through her research, Singh suggested that periphyton could function as an important bio-monitoring tool and aid in the creating and setting of ecological reserves.

Singh has continued to pursue her interests in aquatic environments and bio-monitoring through her work at the INR, where she worked as an intern before progressing to the position of scientist, engaging with the INR’s environmental management, adaptation and resilience and ecosystems themes.

For her PhD, Singh plans to focus on micro-plastic pollution in rivers and oceans.

‘I aim to investigate innovative technologies and methods of identifying and determining the amount of micro-plastics in water resources,’ said Singh.

‘I hope that by studying in a country other than my home I will be given a chance to broaden my horizons and develop a worldview on important environmental issues,’ said Singh.

She added that she is looking forward to the doors that this opportunity will open to her in her career as a young scientist hoping to develop solutions for the very serious threat of micro-plastic pollution.

Article: Christine Cuénod – UKZN Friends of Agriculture