Persistence teamed up with action turns the restrictions set by fear of challenges into achievable ones.


Technology & Innovation



Katekani Shingange, 33, is a materials science researcher, working within the nanotechnology space, with a focus on the development of smart sensors for food quality monitoring. She has published 18 papers in peer-reviewed journals.

Her inspiring academic journey has been recognised in various ways — she was part of the young scientists chosen to attend the Lindau Meeting 2019 in Germany, a prestigious meeting attended by Nobel Laureates and outstanding young scientists across the world. She was awarded the South African Women in Science 2019 TATA doctoral award.

Katekani received the best doctoral studentship award during the CSIR excellence awards 2020. She’s been named an inspiring role model in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) by Inspiring50SA 2021. She’s also the chairperson of Women in Physics in South Africa, which is aimed at ensuring women contribute towards building a knowledge-based economy by strengthening the SET human capital development pipeline and this is set to be achievable through different activities that aim at attracting females into physics-related careers and advocacy of women in physics.

Katekani inspires young women coming from disadvantaged backgrounds and schools to pursue and explore STEM-related fields. “Everyone should have access to food that is safe, nourishing and satisfies their preferences and dietary requirements,” she says.

  • PhD (physics), University of Free State 
  • MSc (physics, University of Free State
  • BSc honours, University of Free State
  • BSc, University of Limpopo

  • Women in Physics in South Africa (WiPiSA) Chairperson,
  • 2023 Best research paper for the Chemicals Cluster at CSIR for Q3,
  • Winner INSPIRING50SA2021, 
  • 2020 CSIR Excellence Award for Best Ph.D. Studentship
  • Profiled on SABC Munghana Lonene FM Minkondzo ya tingwazi for my inspirational academic journey 
  • 2019 South African Women in Science Awards (SAWiSA) TATA Doctoral scholarship award recipient, 
  • Part of South African Young Scientists to be selected to go to the 2019 Lindau Nobel Laureates meeting in Germany, 
  • Selected to visit Max Planck Max-Planck-Institut für Eisenforschung GmbH as post-Lindau experience for a week,   
  • Awarded best Ph.D. oral presentation at the Nanoscience Young Researchers Symposium (NYRS) Gauteng in 2018

I wanted to quit school at the age of 13 because I used to get teased a lot for having pimples on my face. My mother comforted me and told me that school will equip me with the necessary knowledge to address challenges in life.

While working toward your objectives, remain genuine and in the moment. Also, lend a helping hand whenever you can.

I want to see a food-secure South Africa, where everyone always has access to enough food that is safe, nourishing, and satisfies their food preferences and dietary requirements for a healthy and active way of life.

View previous winners from 2018 to 2022

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