Meet the Staff
Natashia Muna - Writing Lab Co-ordinator
Natashia began her writing centre work as a student consultant in the upper campus Writing Centre. During her three years as a consultant, she discovered her passion for working with the languages of science and has been the co-ordinator of the Writing Lab since its inception in 2015.
Natashia’s research interests lie broadly within the literacy practices of scientific disciplines and how the teaching and learning of these literacy practices impact upon student access and success within Higher Education. Currently, she is part of two long terms projects; The Integrated Literacies for Learning in Science (ILLS) project and The Patient Partner Project (PPP), which is part of the Caring Society Consortium. The ILLS project, which has been running since 2014, has focussed on understanding the literacy practices of science that are critical to student success, how the acquisition of these practices are taught or supported within the curriculum and the challenges that students experience in mastering them. Visual literacy within scientific disciplines has emerged as a strong theme within this project. The PPP, which began in 2016, is focussed on how patients, who are considered ‘experts by experience’, can play a significant role in shaping the medical curriculum and teaching students about patient-centered medical care. Communication, which is one of the CanMEDS competencies, is an overarching theme in the PPP.
Natashia has a science background, with a BSc from UCT and an honours degree from Stellenbosch University in Zoology and Biodiversity. She completed her MSc in 2008 and her PhD in 2014, both at UCT, in Molecular and Cell Biology, with a focus on Population Genetics.
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)) 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. In her spare time, she runs a non-profit organisation empowering communities through skills development. 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 developed a passion for research in health sciences during my Honours year. This was an awakening period in her study career, as she came to discover just how big of a gap of knowledge exists and is yet to be addressed across all fields in health sciences. She is working towards an MSc in Medicine (Clinical Science and Immunology) at the Institute of Infectious Disease and Molecular Medicine in the Department of Pathology, where she is investigating the immune responses against Pneumocystis murina. This is an opportunistic fungal pathogen which causes severe Pneumonia in immunocompromised individuals. The importance of looking into the mechanisms responsible for infection control and clearance are of vital importance, as they may pave the way when developing new treatment and diagnosis interventions. She holds a BSc Medical Science Honours degree in Infectious Disease and Immunology from the University of the Cape Town and has a background in Microbiology and Physiology. She believes that imparting knowledge unto others is the best way to learn, see mistakes and gain a new understanding of concepts previously understood differently. She states that 'true and honest expressions are inspired by our thoughts and communicated best through writing'. She loves writing, especially poetry, but equally, values reading as it is her way of improving my vocabulary and also it helps her to sharpen her skill of critical analysis in any piece of writing. Working at the Writing Lab has brought a whole new meaning to writing and she enjoys learning from all the students that she consults. Her philosophy regarding writing is 'there is a big world waiting to be explored through writing and as a consultant, I would like to go on this adventure with you'.
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.