Penny Mathumba to represent South Africa at Nobel Laureate meeting

Scientist Dr Penny Mathumba has been selected to represent South Africa at an international forum in Germany that will be attended by 600 of her peers from 91 countries to discuss chemistry. 

The 71st Nobel Laureate meeting, which will take place from 26 June  to 1 July, runs annually on the Island of Lindau in Bavaria, Germany. 

It brings together Nobel prize recipients in science with students, PhD and postdoctoral candidates. 

Mathumba holds a PhD in chemistry from the University of the Western Cape. 

She was excited at the opportunity to form collaborations with Nobel Laureates and other scientists, Mathumba told Mail & Guardian.  

Such efforts would assist in her goal of using science to address some of South Africa’s sustainable development issues, she said. 

“I would like to build collaborations which will help solve societal problems such as water decontamination and renewable energy, and also in other fields such as biomedical science,” Matumba said. 

Her previous work includes articles about water purification and renewable energy. The research had been motivated by her upbringing and the current state of energy in the country, she said. 

“I grew up in Bushbuckridge and we didn’t have much access to clean purified water, so we had to fetch water from the river.

“Currently I am working on building a point of use water and purification system for that area.”  

Some of the topics that will be discussed at the forum include a panel discussion on trust in science and chemistry, and a talk by pharmacologist Louis Ignarro on his Nobel prize-winning discovery.

Ignarro, along with Robert Furchgott and Ferid Murad, received the prize in 1998 in the category of physiology and medicine for discovering that nitric oxide acts as a molecule that provides signals to the heart and blood vessels.  

Matumba said: “I am confident that the opportunity to attend the meeting will provide me with expertise in the dissemination of chemistry knowledge creation, and community engagement to solve practical challenges faced by the society and contribute to the administration of the organisation which would add value to my existing skills.”

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