Master's degree student Ghaneshree Moonsamy has been awarded a PhD for her breakthrough work in the farming of the highly threatened foodstuff abalone.
Ghaneshree Moonsamy, a student at the Durban University of Technology in South Africa, has had her thesis for a Master's degree in Biotechnology converted into a PhD thesis due to its superior quality. This extraordinary achievement is the first of its kind at that university.
Quoted in a press release by the Durban University of Technology, Moonsamy said, "Due to the content and quality of my Master's, my supervisors suggested that we attempt to apply for a degree conversion from a Master's to a doctoral degree. I was successful in this application."
According to the release, Moonsamy, who is a senior researcher at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, said her study was based on the development of a production process for a probiotic microorganism that is used in abalone (or "perlemoen", as it is known in South Africa) aquaculture. "Abalone is a seafood delicacy that is cultivated primarily in land-based aquaculture systems. The South African abalone industry is under severe pressure due to illegal harvesting and poaching of this seafood delicacy. In addition to the illegal harvesting, the growth of the abalone is extremely slow, and as a result, supply seldom meets global demand. Probiotics can be used in abalone production as a mechanism to boost the growth rate and limit disease proliferation." Her study focused on the development of a bioprocess technology for the production of the probiotic Vibiro midae. The demonstration of that technology has resulted in a patented technology.
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Moonsamy said that after her achievement, "everything feels surreal. I am unsure how I feel about it, because it has been such a monumental journey. So many extreme highs and terrible lows. I am so glad to have made it to the finish line." Moonsamy is currently pursuing a Master's degree in Management in Innovation Studies at the University of Witwatersrand.
"My future plan is to use the skills set that I have acquired, and the ones that I am yet to acquire, to make a positive impact and useful contribution to society. I feel strongly about the potential of our country and truly believe that science and technology can bring about the change that is required. I am passionate about education, training and all things STEM related, and I wish to execute my mission statement of "people, passion, purpose" to the best of my ability," she said.