NRF Youth Month 2024: Kamogelo Mashiloane

NRF Youth Month 2024: Kamogelo Mashiloane

This year’s Youth Month is significant as the NRF celebrates 25 Years of Research, Innovation, Impact and Partnerships. These are the stories of the youth who have not only been impacted by the NRF but who also have an impact in their own spaces – and beyond! We thank all participants for sharing their stories with us.

Mr Kamogelo Mashiloane is an MSc Physics candidate at the University of Venda whose current research is based at NRF-iThemba LABS. He also received funding from the NRF for his Honours studies.

How did your journey start?

Growing up as a curious young individual propelled my passion for natural philosophy, which we know today as science. My career journey has been as much splendid as it has been tough at times. I decided to pursue a career in Physics based on my curiosity and questioning of “unexplainable phenomena”.

Ever since high school, I knew I wanted to do a Bachelor’s degree in Physics at the University of Venda. It came to my mind that the world needed more advanced skills in Physics to advance the generation of energy, explain optical phenomena, and advance the efficiency of materials in different applications; such scarce skills as nuclear physics, laser physics, condensed matter and materials physics etc.

I have, therefore, worked really hard and smart to progress to my current role – I simply set the goal and aimed higher.

How has your affiliation with the NRF impacted your studies/career?

My relationship with the NRF began in 2023 when I was funded for my Honours. The funding really made a dream come true for me.

After I completed my Bachelor’s degree and registered for postgrad, I was constantly on the verge of giving up on my career vision – my plan was to advance my skills through research and achieve my idea of making the world a better place. It was only after the support from the NRF that I went back to my formula and remembered my goal. It motivated me and allowed me to complete my Honours with mini-research that I had done at the NRF-iThemba LABS.

I then registered for Master’s for which NRF is still supporting me – once again under supervision at the NRF-iThemba LABS facility. It was and still is an exciting experience to have the NRF support me not only financially but also in terms of my research through NRF-iThemba LABS.

What is your area of expertise?

My current study is focused on the area of nanotechnology, or condensed matter physics and materials. To be precise, the focus of my research is based on the use of the 3MV tandetron accelerator at NRF-iThemba LABS to carry out research on the fabrication of metallic nano-to-micro scaled structures by a lithography technique known as proton beam writing. The aim of this is to advance materials in relative applications such as microfluidics, aerodynamics, optics, solar cells, etc.

Why is your work/studies important?

The proton beam lithographic technique is a highly regarded technique to fabricate high aspect ratio metallic micro-to-nano structures, hence the current work in this area of research is significant in the development of nanotechnology that science is breaking through. With the success of current work in this area of research, many materials in many applications, including microfluidics, aerodynamics, optics, etc will be advanced to work much better and produce more efficient outcomes.

What are some of your proudest academic achievements?

Well, it’s a tough one for me, I’ll be honest. I am a new researcher at NRF-iThemba LABS, a place of wonderful and highly skilled research scientists. Newton once said: “If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants”. With that being so, I believe that I will publish many papers that will make a difference in the area since I am, after all working, under the best people who have, and still continuously make, a huge impact in the field. I would like to thank my supervisors, Dr NP Mongwaketsi (NRF-iThemba LABS) and Dr F Nemangwele (Univen), for their incredible support.

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