Science bronze for Hockman

20 August 2009 | Story by Newsroom

Dorit Hockman

Dean of the Faculty of Science, Professor Kathy Driver, presented graduate Dorit Hockman with the prestigious S2A3 Bronze Medal, the South African Association for the Advancement of Science's top honour for South African master's theses in all science fields.

Hockman won the medal for her work on the development of bat wings. She and her colleagues, fellow MSc student Mandy Mason, and supervisors Professors David Jacobs and Nicola Illing of the Departments of Zoology and Molecular Biology, linked the evolution of bats' flying limbs to changes in gene expression of the Sonic Hedgehog gene (Shh), named after a character in the Sega Genesis video game.

Hockman is now at Cambridge's Trinity College for a four-year PhD, funded by a Wellcome Trust Scholarship - and she had to wait for holiday to receive the medal. But she was quick to point out that she would come back home. The award adds to that feeling.

"It is great to be recognised by South Africa and I hope to return to UCT one day for more exciting research," she said.

She hinted that her studies in the US would entail a "zoo PhD" that would look at the evolution and development of oxygen-sensing cells in many animals.

And for those students who wished to succeed, Hockman said: "Keep focused, work very hard and don't give up when the work gets difficult."

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