Bright future ahead for young female scientist

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

As the country celebrates Women's Month, a young female scientist from the Department of Water and Sanitation has secured a Doctoral Scholarship to study at the International Institute for Geo-Information Science and Earth Observation at the University of Twente in Netherlands.

Mbali Mahlayeye will be jetting off to Netherlands in September. This comes just months after her return from the Netherlands where she participated in an information sharing programme organised by the Dutch Government to showcase the Dutch expertise on drinking water and waste water.

Mahlayeye, a Remote Sensing Scientist holds an Honours in Geology and Master of Science in Geo-informatics degrees from the University of Pretoria. 

Her Doctoral studies will focus on developing methods and algorithms that will aim at bridging the technological gaps that exist in the agricultural sector of acquiring information for decision-making using remote sensing.

“The subject matter of my PhD is very close to my heart as it will focus on food security, monitoring agricultural lands and crops using earth observations,” Mahlayeye said.

The 29-year-old joined the department four years ago as a graduate trainee and has since acquired the knowledge and expertise in the fields of geography, geosciences and related branches of science and engineering.

“My time with the department has been an absolute learning curve. I was involved in projects that addressed drought, forestry and agricultural matters. I was also afforded an opportunity to interact with young minds from developing countries in the Netherlands in a Dutch Visitors Programme on water and sanitation issues in March this year,” Mahlayeye said.

Women deserve equal opportunities as men

She noted that her scholarship with the University of Twente comes at an opportune time as South Africa commemorates Women’s Month.

“I am a feminist at heart and I believe women deserve equal opportunities as men. This opportunity, more than anything, symbolizes how far we have come as women and what we are capable of achieving,” Mahlayeye said.

As much as she is excited to pursue her studies overseas, Mahlayeye said she is going to miss her family in South Africa. 

“When I received the approval of the scholarship, I could not believe it. I had to pinch myself several times just to ascertain myself of the reality. I will be emigrating to Netherlands for four years and I understand that this will not be without challenges, but I am comforted by the love and support I am receiving from my family and friends,” she said. –