Meet the Staff
Natashia Muna - Writing Lab Co-ordinator
Dr Natashia Muna – Senior Lecturer; FHS Writing Lab Coordinator
I first started working with academic writing when I joined the upper campus Writing Centre in 2011 as a student consultant. At that time, I was completing my Ph.D. on the Sociogenetics of a local termite species, which drew on my background in zoology and genetics.
I have always loved writing, so the Writing Centre was a natural fit for me and over the three years I worked there as a consultant, I developed a deep understanding and appreciation for the importance of the work we do and an awareness of the need for specialised support for student writers, especially those in the sciences.
In 2014, as a postdoctoral research fellow working on population genetics of a local figwasp, I become a part-time lecturer within the Academic development Programme (ADP) in the Centre for Higher Education Development (CHED). And in 2015, I was appointed as a full-time lecturer with the Language Development group and tasked with establishing and coordinating the FSH Writing Lab.
As my focus has shifted from the biosciences to health sciences education, my research interests have also shifted to academic and scientific writing, multimodal communication practices, and authorial identity development of writers.
Taahira Goolam Hoosen (Moola) - Lecturer (Health Sciences Education)
Taahira's academic literacy career started as a writing consultant at the Writing Centre in 2014 until the FHS Writing Lab was established in 2015 where she worked until March 2018. From April onwards she began working full-time as a lecturer on the New Generation of Academics Programme (nGAP) in the Department of Health Sciences Education where she is also completing her PhD. Her educational qualifications in the Biomedical Sciences (BSc (UKZN); BSc (Med) Hons: Human Genetics (UCT); MSc (Med) Haematology (UCT)) and Education (PGCE: Biology) (UCT)) which have allowed her to merge her passion for teaching and learning within the scientific literacies domain.
Her teaching philosophy resonates within a social justice paradigm, empowering students' to become responsible scholars through identity and voice development within their discipline. Her research interests include postgraduate academic literacies and pedagogy, corpus linguistics and authorial voice development and pedagogy in the sciences, which is the focus of her PhD. She is also a involved in the suite of postgraduate academic literacies courses offered by CHED and the Transforming Journeys project. She is a mother to an angel and loves the finer things in life. In 2018, she was voted one of Mail & Guardian's Top 200 Young South Africans for her work in Education and the non profit sector.
Nontobeko Mthembu - Consultant
Nontobeko is a PhD candidate in Clinical Science & Immunology at the Institute of Infectious Disease & Molecular Medicine. As a researcher her interest lies in understanding mechanisms involved in disease manifestation, an insight through which novel therapeutic interventions can be identified.
Nontobeko has been working at the Faculty of Health Science Writing Lab since 2018, an opportunity that came at the right time as she was beginning her journey in academia. She is cognizant and appreciative of the extensive impact that working at the Writing Lab has had on her as an academic and enjoys sharing her knowledge and learning from all the students that she works with. To her, learning is life-long, and therefore approaches every consultation as an opportunity of growth. She is fluent in IsiZulu and English, and can also understand IsiXhosa, and is therefore open to consulting with students who feel more comfortable consulting in any of these three languages.
Silindile Ngcobo - Consultant
Silindile is a PhD candidate in Biomaterials at UCT’s Cardiovascular Research Unit (Regenerative Medicine group) in the Department of Surgery. Her science career began at the University of Pretoria where she completed a BSc, BSc (Hons) and MSc degrees before moving to UCT. Cardiovascular diseases are a major public health concern in South Africa, and so her current research interest is in establishing a bioactive reagent delivering hydrogel; based on a natural polymer, as a form of a therapeutic strategy for myocardial infarction.
Silindile's love for science led her to academic literacy, on the premise that good scientists can read critically, write concisely and verbally communicate their research in academia as well as to the general public. "It has been a journey; from first learning how to conduct topic-relevant literature searches in accredited databases, to developing my voice when critiquing and arguing statements. Developing my voice has been particularly important, as by taking a stance in arguments, I do not feel distant from my own writing; my identity is incorporated in the story telling process."
Silindile is a dynamic person who values interdisciplinary research, loves languages and takes pride in her own isiZulu language. She also enjoy reading poetry, fictional and non-fictional books. Her passions lie within mentorship and affirming hope to the next generation of university science students. "I find joy in continuously improving my skills as well as interacting with different people from different backgrounds, which the Writing Lab has allowed me to do."
Nonkululeko Mkwanzi - Consultant
Nonkululeko is a PhD student in Medical Biochemistry with a research focus on cervical cancer treatment. She is passionate about working with people and passing on knowledge in a clear and easy manner. Having been through the journey of academic writing and the challenges of academic literacy herself, she is passionate about helping fellow students to make the process of writing less daunting. She is a good listener and patient during her consultations. Working at the Writing Lab affords her the opportunity to interact with others, learn more about writing and, most importantly, help others to excel.
Neelakshi Mungra – Consultant
Neelakshi completed her undergraduate degree in Chemistry and Biochemistry at UCT in 2015. She also holds a first-class Honours degree in Medical Biochemistry and is currently registered for a PhD degree in the Division of Chemical and Systems Biology at the Institute of Infectious Diseases and Molecular Medicine at UCT. Neelakshi’s focal research interest lies in the development of cutting-edge antibody technologies to facilitate the engineering of diagnostic and therapeutic tools specifically aimed towards managing breast cancer – an aggressive and debilitating disease affecting countless women in South Africa today. Consequently, with her strong scientific background and publication records, Neelakshi is well-armed to read, understand and criticise versatile multidisciplinary subject topics.
As a science graduate, Neelakshi is cognizant of the demands and pressures involved in the academic writing journey. Therefore, her understanding and empathic nature will provide students with a supportive, non-judgemental and friendly platform to discuss writing challenges in complete confidentiality. Moreover, regardless of their writing proficiency, Neelakshi will patiently guide students through all levels of the writing process: brainstorming, conceptualisation, paraphrasing, ensuring proper structure and flow of ideas, while concurrently building on the student’s ability to practice self-editing for grammar, spelling and punctuation. On this basis, by instilling a lifelong writing habit that can be carried into adulthood, working with Neelakshi, will ensure that students are able to develop writing skills that will enable them to confidently toggle between different genres of writing and communication – an important requisite for smooth transitioning from academia into the work force.