SPOTLIGHT

Dr. Mathapelo Seopela

#Chemistry
#EnvironmentalSciences
#SouthAfrica

Where are you from?

I am from eMalahleni in the Mpumalanga Province. A third of four girls. My hometown (coal city) inspired me to study further and try to find a way to address issues we faced on a regular basis. These were, and still are, those related to inadequate water and environmental quality. An irony of sorts…

Currently Based in South Africa.

What is your educational background?

I have a BTech and MTech in Chemistry, as well as PhD in Science (focus on Environmental Chemistry), from the Tshwane University of Technology, South Africa

What is your current occupation?

I am a postdoctoral researcher at the North West University. I am looking at improving analytical detection techniques for environmental contaminants and studying their chemistry, fate and risk to organisms.

What or who got you into STEM?

Growing up we had water quality issues and not being able to drink from the tap at my house triggered the urge to want to find out ways to mitigate the situation. Getting into university and interacting with researchers and postgrads galvanized my passion further.

What is the biggest challenge/barrier you have faced as an African in STEM?

Africa in general is not seen as a base for good quality science in other continents. This makes it my responsibility and emphasizes the need to ensure science from Africa is given the platform on the global stage.

How do you think your background/upbringing has been beneficial in your journey/career?

Being from South Africa, the ethos of Ubuntu and breaking barriers is entrenched in everything I do. In addition, the support from my family is unmatched and has been crucial for every step of the way.

How do you think we can start to change the narrative surrounding African contributions
to global STEM research & careers?

Create more awareness on platforms and speak about the groundbreaking and amazing strides STEM has reached and the trajectory it is headed in this young democracy.

What advice would you like to give to young, aspiring Africans in STEM?

Your dreams and hopes will pave the way for you to break new ground!

Do you have any projects you’re working on that you would like us to highlight?

Blogging about my experiences in transitioning from full time postgraduate studies to independent research through @academicchatter on twitter.

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    SPOTLIGHT

    Hello World

    I think it’s about time you heard my story.