Thursday, April 26, 2012

Thursday April 26, 2012: Meet Thulani Makhalanyane

Thulani Makhalanyane is finishing his Ph.D. at the University of the Western Cape in South Africa. I met him here in Namibia two years ago.  His research is on the genomics of the bacterial communities that live in the desert.  His undergraduate degree is in microbiology.

Thulani is in his 20's.  He grew up in the mining town of Klerksdorp, in South Africa.  His father is a school principal and his mother is a nurse.  He has one sister. I asked him about his early influences.  He mentioned that when he was young his father bought a (print) set of the Encyclopedia Britannica.  Thulani is the kind of person who can never look up one thing in the encyclopedia without reading about ten other things before he puts the book down.  He is intellectually curious.

After he gets his Ph.D. he plans to do a post-doctoral research fellowship, and then become a professor in Africa, Europe or America.

I asked Thulani if he had anything to say to Drake students.  He said "They are lucky to have a teacher like you!"  (He meant me.)  I mention this only so I can return the compliment:  Thulani's future students are going to be very lucky indeed to have a teacher like him.  He is warm, gracious, and in love with knowledge.  He is very good at what he does, which is cutting-edge metagenomics and biotechnology, and he is also very good at sharing the excitement of doing it.

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