Nicole Remaliah Samantha Sibuyi, 45, is playing a critical role in helping women become intellectual thinkers and scientists.
She has a foundation in microbiology, biochemistry, biotechnology and nanotechnology. Nicole grew up in Bushbuckridge, Mpumalanga, and her qualifications establish her as a role model for pupils in rural areas.
Over the past 10 years, she has contributed to the growth of the DSI/Mintek Nanotechnology Innovation Centre, Biolabels Unit at the University of the Western Cape (UWC). In January 2022, she joined Mintek (Health Platform) as a principal scientist and quickly assumed a supervisory role that led to two staff members graduating with PhDs.
She has contributed significantly to research development and knowledge generation in the global scientific community. Her commitment to STEM is apparent by the number of published articles in reputable journals, and the number of students who graduated under her supervision at UWC, Cape Peninsula University of Technology and Nelson Mandela University.
She is a research affiliate at UWC and teaches the advanced nanobiomedical sciences module in the National Nanoscience Postgraduate Teaching and Training Platform.
Nicole has also been involved in product development projects that aim to improve the healthcare systems through the development of targeted therapy and rapid diagnostics for chronic and infectious diseases.
What is the best piece of advice you've ever been given?
Never be afraid to carve your own path.
Our theme this year is Accelerating Equality & Empowerment in Women. How do you empower yourself and women around you?
Self-motivation is one of the skills that was instilled by my mentors in my early career, a quality that I constantly pass to the upcoming scientists that I work with, most of which are women. One needs to be goal oriented in order to move forward, and this can only be achieved if women unite and work together. I always encourage women in my circles to stay up-to-date with the latest industry trends and technological advancements. Sharing my life journey experience always motivate women from similar backgrounds to do better and remain relevant in their various positions.
If you could change or achieve one thing for South Africa today, what would it be?
If I were to achieve one thing for South Africa, it would be the advancement of domestic innovation activities to address pressing issues such as inequality and health challenges. The Covid-19 pandemic showed us just how urgent innovation is in South Africa and the African continent as a whole, given the high disease burden in the region. Innovation, particularly in the health sector, presents an opportunity to increase self-sustainability while decreasing reliance on imports. Achieving this goal, however, would require a significant increase in the investments directed towards research and development initiatives.