UCT student wins international fellowship

25 July 2012 | Story by Newsroom

Engineering dean Prof Francis Petersen and members of the departmentMaking a change: Fatema Thawer-Esmail has had her scientific endeavours rewarded by winning an award that recognises African women's contribution to science.

UCT doctoral student Fatema Thawer-Esmail was one of 10 African women whose work in the scientific field was recently acknowledged with a major international fellowship, replete with prize money of almost R170 000.

The L'Oréal-UNESCO Regional Fellowships for Women in Science (FWIS) in Sub-Saharan Africa is given to women scientists up to age 40 who are working towards their PhDs. The fellowship seeks to remove one of the major obstacles to women pursuing a career in science - access to money.

Thawer-Esmail hails from Dar es Salaam and qualified as a medical doctor in Tanzania before coming to UCT to study dermatology. Here she is a full-time research student, facilitates undergraduate and postgraduate teaching in the Division of Dermatology, and is in the process of completing a clinical-education course.

"This award means a lot to me being a non-South African studying in South Africa," she says. "It will enable me to complete my PhD by assisting me to cover my research costs.

"Furthermore it motivates me to encourage other female scientists both in Tanzania as well as South Africa, and serve as a role model to them."

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