Find mentors who have a blueprint of where you want to be in life. Then, create mentor-mentee relationships that will enable you to grow towards your goals and this will save you half the time it would take you to get there.

Tshimangadzo Munonde



Tshimangadzo Munonde, 33, is a senior lecturer in analytical and environmental research at Unisa’s Institute for Nanotechnology and Water Sustainability. His main responsibility is to guide and supervise postgraduate students in their research projects related to environmental water quality monitoring and the treatment and remediation of wastewater. This work aims to protect environmental water sources, such as rivers, lakes, dams and wells from pollutants. In addition, he is involved in circular economy research, focusing on the synthesis of nanomaterials from various waste materials for wastewater treatment such as converting plastic waste into carbon used in wastewater treatment. After working on a project in a rural area where villagers relied on river water and finding arsenic in the river, Munonde is now focused on humanitarian projects. He is involved in the Water Research Commission project that is centred on assessing the water quality of surface water in the rural areas in the Eastern Cape. Munonde is also involved in the Brics project that detects and removes pharmaceutical drugs from water samples. He is the chair of the Engaged Scholarship project at the Unisa nanotechnology and water institute.


BSc, University of Limpopo
BSc Honours, University of Venda
MSc Nanoscience, University of Johannesburg
PhD in Chemistry, University of Johannesburg


I worked on a project where we analysed the water quality in a rural area where villagers lacked access to municipal water and relied on river water for their daily needs. To our surprise, we found high levels (above recommended levels) of arsenic in the river water, a well-known carcinogenic and toxic element. This prompted us to investigate the source of the arsenic, and we discovered that a wood-preserving industry was discharging arsenic-based compounds into nearby water sources, posing a significant risk to the lives of the people using the river water. After engaging with the industry, they began managing their waste and eventually relocated to an area with fewer inhabitants, as well as implementing strict management of their arsenic-based waste. This project taught me that as researchers, we have a responsibility to protect the environment and the communities around us. It was an eye-opening experience into the challenges faced by communities and the role I can play as a researcher in providing solutions. Thus, my projects are now centred around solving problems that humanity is facing, particularly in rural areas. I also impart this knowledge to my postgraduate students, which enables the continuation of projects centred around helping solve community water and energy problems.


My journey has been supported by great mentors. The first mentor was Mr Paul Mojapelo, who introduced me to the world of research. As part of his mentorship, he advised me that any research project I embark on should focus on solving problems that humanity is facing. This enabled me to resonate well with my second mentor, Professor Philiswa Nomngongo, who is well known for her research projects that are centred around solving problems that humanity is faced with. Through her mentorship and guidance, she has equipped me with practical skills that have shaped me into the academic that I am today. Dr Haitao Zheng provided me with industrial research knowledge that has enabled me to be competitive in both the academic and industrial space. Professor Lawrence Madikizela has become my latest mentor, who is playing a role in advancing my leadership skills, as well as supporting my growth as an environmental analytical chemistry expert.