Miss Funeka Nkosi is from Ncala Section in Katlehong. Funeka knew since high school that she wanted to be a scientist. She completed her BSc and BSc (Hons) Applied Chemistry at the University of Witwatersrand and her MSc in chemistry, which she passed cum laude, from the University of Pretoria.
Why did you choose this career?
I chose to be a scientist because I want to contribute to improving the quality of life, especially for people in my country.
What area of nanoscience do you specialise in and what does it entail?
I specialise in materials science and electrochemistry energy technologies. This involves preparation of nanomaterials to be used in energy storage technologies, such as lithium-ion batteries (batteries used in cellphones, cameras, laptops, etc.), sodium-ion batteries (used to store electricity from renewable energy sources such solar, wind and wave) and supercapacitors (used in power banks, electric buses. etc.)
What are you currently working on?
I am pursuing a PhD in chemistry at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) in the energy sector which is focused on making high performing nanomaterials for lithium-ion batteries.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
CSIR is the best institution in South Africa to do research. What I enjoy the most about my job is its flexibility.
Did you struggle to get funding and do you believe that there is enough support for students who are interested in science?
No, I did not struggle. There is lot of funding and support available for sciences. There are National Student Financial Aid Scheme NSFAS, bursaries (private and governmental) and scholarships. I have been funded by the CSIR since I was an undergraduate until now, for my PhD. CSIR offer bursaries for both undergraduate and postgraduate students.
What advice would you give young girls considering a career in science?
Everyone can pursue a career in science, including women. Science is not limited to any gender. So young girls must work hard, be focussed disciplined to ensure that they become the scientists they want to become. We need them to pursue careers in science because more scientists will be required in the future. There are a lot of opportunities for studying science in South Africa. The country needs more scientists, especially women.
Do you think South Africa is on par with the rest of the world with regards to nanoscience?
Yes, scientists in South Africa are working hard to make sure that South Africa is on par with the rest of the world in nanoscience research.