The Root Of The Science Podcasts

EP 76: Mishumo Nemathaga- Msc Student in Agriculture

July 05, 2021 Anne Chisa Season 2 Episode 76
The Root Of The Science Podcasts
EP 76: Mishumo Nemathaga- Msc Student in Agriculture
Show Notes Transcript

Hello everyone, welcome back to episode 76! 

My guest today is Mishumo Nemathaga. She's a South African living in South Africa. In this episode, Mishumo tells us that she always knew that she wanted to do something related to biology from primary school. This love carried on all the way until her high school years where she was even awarded the best student in biology. However, after completing high school, she went to college and registered to be an electrical engineer. She explains the reasons behind this slight detour in her academic journey. After a gap year, Mishumo registered for a  BSc degree in microbiology and zoology at the University of South Africa. Currently, she's an MSc student in agriculture focusing on animal science.  Her research investigates Ascaridia galli, a parasitic roundworm that infects village chickens. Mishumo tells us about this research and its importance. Apart from her studies, Mishumo is very passionate about STEM; in general, she's a Black Woman In Science Fellow 2021 and started her own Facebook page called Free Science to curate educational resources for high school students. She explains the importance of being part of and creating such spaces that support STEM initiatives. Tune in as we hear about this and so much more. 


Facebook & LinkedIn: Mishumo Nemathaga
Instagram: @n_mish22

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Anne Chisa:

The Root of the Science Podcast with your girl, Anne with an E. Hello, everyone and welcome back to another episode of The Root of the Science Podcast with your girl Anne with an E. If you are new here Welcome, welcome, welcome. It's always a pleasure welcoming in new users. Make sure that you subscribe on Spotify, or Apple podcasts or wherever else you listen to your podcast. Now if you're a regular Thank you, thank you. Thank you so much for always coming back and tuning in to another episode. Your support is truly, truly appreciated. Now, let's get into today's episode. My guest today is Michelle Morton Emma Tagore. She's also the African living in South Africa. And this episode, Michelle Moore tells us that from primary school, she always knew that she wanted to do something related to biology. This love carried on all the way until her high school years where she was even awarded the best student in biology. However, after completing high school, she went on to college and register to be an electrical engineer. She explains the reasons behind the slight detour in her academic journey don't get a PA machine more went on to register for a BSc degree in microbiology and zoology at the University of South Africa. Currently, she's an MSc student in agriculture at the same institution focusing on animal science. Her research investigates a parasitic roundworm that infects village chickens fishy more tells us about this research. And it's important part from her studies, Mishima is very passionate about the field of STEM in general. She's a black woman and science fellow 2021. And she also started her own Facebook page called free science to rate educational resources for high school students. She explains the importance of being part of fellowships, and also creating spaces that support stem initiatives. Tune in, as we hear about this, and so much more. Let's go. Hi, Michelle Moore, welcome to the show. Hi, thank you for having me. It's a great pleasure to have you here. I'm so excited to have you. And thank you so much for honoring the invitation. You're most welcome. Thank you for the invite. It's a pleasure. So first things first to get the ball rolling. I just want you to just give us a brief introduction. Who is mushroom or where you currently based? And just briefly, what are you doing?

Mishumo Nemathaga:

Okay, so I am a South African. I was born in South Africa Limpopo in a place called Vanda, I'm the firstborn of my parents, but I do have a younger brother. I'm 11 years older than him. So yeah, that's me. That's a part of who I am and where I was born.

Anne Chisa:

Before we get into everything that we do, I just like to ask people quick, something away from the science to just get to know you better. Okay, so if you are not sciencing, what can we expect you to be doing?

Mishumo Nemathaga:

Okay, so if I'm not sciencing, what do I do? Okay, so I am a Christian. So I really, really love going to church I'm a Sunday, girl, a Wednesday, girl. I'm a Friday girl. So I really enjoy going to church. And for pandemic, it's actually been kind of hard. So I just usually go to church on Sundays. And I have like Youth Services at church on Saturdays. Or in fact, we have like practice because I'm part of the worship team. So we do that on Saturdays. I have him in that. I'm an introvert. So I enjoy having time to myself, I enjoy just being in my room, going through articles going through books. I feel like, apart from science, I'm always with science. So in my spare time, I just tried to learn more about other fields of science that I'm not in So yeah, that's basically what I usually do.

Anne Chisa:

Oh, fantastic. It's, it's really great to hear that you are how much you love church and that you're part of the worship team. So you saying oh my gosh. I'm not sleeping. I'm gonna do that. Don't worry. I'm not gonna do it. See? I'm not but you know, I always go like, you know, I had a pause. principal who always used to say to us, everybody, what what did he say? Oh, in primary school he used to say, everybody can sing. It's just that other people sing better than others. And you definitely. You're, you are definitely one of those other people who sing better. So I always go like, ah, cuz I know I can sing but just not worship TVC. Yeah, okay. Okay. Sure. Okay, so miss you more. Now, you mentioned that if you're not sciencing, or rather, you said that science is a big part of who you are. So even if you're not doing your research, you're looking through other things to to get to know more about science. So then this brings us to the beginning the Genesis, how do you even get into sciences? Is that something that you always knew that you wanted to do? Or did that happen where you were influenced by other people? You know, so what's your story?

Mishumo Nemathaga:

Okay, so nice, as David actually told myself that, when I grow up, I want to be a biologist. That's literally what I said to myself. So when I was in primary school, I really, really, really edgy classes. But I don't think I was the smartest kid in class. I don't think I was. But I really enjoyed these two classes, just the fact that we would learn about animals, we'd learn about plants, we just learn about nature, and I really, really enjoyed writing to me. So, um, there was just this other day, we just went to the computer center. That's where we call it like, where you go to the computer lab. And we were doing research for a mini project that we did. I think it was in grade six. Yes, it was in grade six. So we had this mini project. Probably it was on animals, and we just had to research a mammal or something. So I just decided, Okay, why don't I just google what life science means or what biology means or what natural science means? So it's just playing along around, that learners were actually doing, and just writing down everything that they needed for their projects. just decided, Okay, let me just Google and see what the internet what time. So yeah, that's when it actually started. Because living organisms, he was talking about nonliving, all talking about plants, and animals. And that's where I actually got the word biologic, because I didn't know the word biology. So then I just decided, Okay, so it's talking about plant is talking about animals. It's talking about humans. Let me Google what biology means. So then, from googling what natural science or license meant, I went on to googling what biology meant. And I read through what biology was like, when I grew up, I want to be a biologist. And literally, that day, when I got home, I told my mom that I want to be a biology student. And that's where it started. In fact,

Anne Chisa:

wow. I love how determined you are and so self. Yeah, like how sure you were in yourself. Okay, so you have this, I want to be a biologist. What then what happens after that?

Mishumo Nemathaga:

So after that, okay, I complete primary school, I go on to high school. Okay. When I get to, because in South Africa, we choose like if you want to be in the science, or the commerce, or history subjects when we get in. So when I got to pretend it wasn't difficult, I knew I wanted to do science. So I did life science, I did physics, I did geography I met and two languages and life orientation. So yeah, I just continued on with science and I really enjoyed my life science journey in high school as well. It was like my favorite I was even top student in in one of the years that I was in high school for life science, because I really, really enjoyed it. I was like, literally determined, and I was willing to study night and day just because of the lab that I had for it. So anyways, after completing high school interesting enough, I went to a college and I registered to be an electrical engineer. So I don't know I just somehow forgot about the idea. I don't know if it was peer pressure. I don't know if it was because I found that electrical engineer right after the courses out literally go into the workspace and it will be easier for me to get a job based on the information that then because obviously when you decide after high school, what you want to do you try and kind of like look at options, that will give you a Get a job or job quicker instead of you being a part of the unemployment statistics. So I was like, No, let me just do electrical engineer. So I registered for that I paid, but I never went to classes because I just decided it wasn't what I wanted to do. So after matriculating I, what we call a gap year. But it wasn't actually a gap year because it was only for like six months. And during that six months, I just had to reevaluate everything, like my future, my academic life, just try and figure out what I actually wanted to. So then I decided to enroll with UniSA. And that's when I decided, Okay, let me just register for microbiology because he said that this two different streams, so but then they were combined. So I decided that I wanted to do microbiology and zoology before my BSc. So that's what I ended up doing until today. So that's how it actually worked.

Anne Chisa:

Wow, this is so interesting. I'm just going to touch back on what you said about how you, when would you think when listening to your story, velocity, it's pretty straight and narrow, you're going to go into biological sciences, then you went into this little detail. And I think it just goes to show that sometimes, because of the visibility, or the type of access that we have about STEM careers, we are limited and thinking that only engineering will get you to x y Zed or might get you to this very amazing job. And you kind of doubted yourself or you kind of went off on this detour. So it's pretty good that you had that life lesson to be okay, you know what, I went here, whatever the main reason was, you say that you still unsure whether it was peer pressure or whatnot. But I think once Yeah, but I think it's, it's very, it's very important because when I think when when we discuss about science as a specialty, or you think about as engineering or doctor, you don't really talk about the other disciplines of Life Sciences. So it's, it's really great that you eventually went back and you went and you studied, you found your passion again. So you went and studied microbiology and zoology UniSA being University of South Africa, right. So I know now you are doing your MSC and agriculture. So how do you how does that link up again, it seems like you have a very interesting journey. So talk to talk, talk to me through that. Okay,

Mishumo Nemathaga:

so um, after do my PSC, I went on to do my honors in microbiology. And then now I'm currently busy with my Master's in agriculture, but I'm focusing on animal science. So it's a master's in agriculture, focusing on animal science. So basically, I am doing the animal science part of it. It's not related to farming, if I could put it that way. Agricultural farming, it's not related to that. It's, it's related to animal science. Yeah. Because a lot of people kind of like, ask me all the time, like, okay, you're doing a master's in agriculture. But then you were doing an honors in microbiology, like, how did you get to a point where you now decide to do a master's in agriculture? I think maybe it's because of how the colleges are all written at UniSA. It's kind of like confusing. But then it's still under, it's still under the same science college. It's just that they've separated it is agriculture. There's life science, there's physiology, so I'm just under agriculture.

Unknown:

Okay, that's, that's quite interesting. So now, you mentioned that you're doing your your master's in Animal Sciences, that study of a parasitic, yes, and parasitic roundworms, that actually infect these village chickens. So can you tell us more about your involvement and why this project is so important? Um basically, the research is on parasites that are called Ascaridia galli parasites as very deadly parasites, which are round worms, and they cause diseases and chickens, and I'm studying the parasites that affect village chickens. So this means that all my lab samples will be from chickens that come from rural areas. So my research work will actually provide oh actually help rural communities that rely on chickens for food. So basically, it will also help with the contribution that we as scientists are trying to bring when it comes to the global contribution to hunger, especially in Africa, because in Africa, there is a lot of issues when it comes to hunger. For example, I can give examples in, in countries like Canada and Kenya, there is an issue when it comes to malnutrition. So with this research, I'll be able to actually give better advice to farmers, or landless communities that really chickens for food, because mostly, that's what they do, they raise the chickens for food, but then if the chickens are dying, it's an issue. And then that could also cause hunger and malnutrition. So. So that's basically what my research is about.

Anne Chisa:

Wow, that's so interesting. It's very interesting. And I love the fact that you are dealing with these small scale farmers in the in the village areas, because they obviously didn't have access to, I don't know, a vet, or people to actually test the chickens and how to,

Mishumo Nemathaga:

yeah, they definitely don't have access to Yeah, and they kind of like don't know how to go about it. When it comes to dying chickens, they really don't know what to do. So that's just basically the aim to change that. And to actually bring science into rural areas so that they can also have a means of life, because they use the chickens for food, they also use them to sell the chickens for money, and they use them to sell so that they can go to the clinic or just get a taxi fee. So it's really important.

Anne Chisa:

Oh, fantastic. So yeah, the chickens are very beneficial to their livelihoods. I love the work that you're doing. And I love I love science that has got a societal aspect to it. Maybe it's biased, because my research also touches on that. So I'm really excited. And I wish you all the best for this research and all of the amazing results, which I'm sure you will you'll gather in your time as a master students. So you mentioned earlier that you do lab work, right. And you know, you know, we answered Africa now and there is a lockdown, and there was a lockdown last year. So I wanted to ask you, how has this been for you, navigating these sort of stops starts to your research, because research really involves a lot of lab work. How have you navigated that? Okay,

Mishumo Nemathaga:

so let me just give you my experience based on what happened last year. And then I'll just continue up to this year. So okay, lockdown started last year, right. And it was very challenging, especially the part where I had to learn how to do most of my most of the stuff. And it was kind of like hard to communicate with my supervisor at times because of network problems, or because she wasn't available when I was available. She was busy with whatever she had to do on her side as a supervisor. So it was kind of hard, but then I'm just thankful that I had a very supportive of In fact, I still have a very supportive supervisor, I managed to complete my honors in record time, I was able to complete my proposal. And then right after we got into like level two, that's when I had to still wait for the university to actually say that, okay, now it's for students to come into the labs, I had to book lab days, it was kind of challenging, but then I ended up having my days in the lab. And yeah, it went very smoothly. After that. I just did my lab work. I think it took a week for me to complete my lab work, because it wasn't like a lot of work. So once I was done with that, I managed to complete my report, write my dissertation. And yeah, I managed to complete my honors. Then, right after that, I was going into my master's. So at the moment, I don't have any lab work. I'm only busy with my proposal for so that's very good because we're having to go from level two and then all of a sudden you're on level three and then we're on level four. It's really hectic. I don't even think I was able would be able to get any lab work done. So all my lab work for my Masters will be next year and I just hope that by then everything will be better.

Anne Chisa:

Oh, okay. No, thank goodness. That is not you're not severely impacted yet. And kudos to you for managing to finish dissertation last year through all of those stops thoughts. So I'm glad that you won't have for this year, hopefully, hopefully by 2022, life will be

Mishumo Nemathaga:

a little bit more better for us. I'm also just happy that I have to do that. Having to go to the lab is another story.

Anne Chisa:

Yeah. Yeah. Okay. So apart from the studies and your research, you also very few you just genuinely passionate about the field of science, technology engineering. In fact, you also a black woman and science fellow for this year 2021. And apart from that, she also created a page on Facebook called free science, to give resources to young people about science and pass papers and etc. So why do you think these platforms which you are part of, and also the ones that you've created, are so important,

Mishumo Nemathaga:

I think the the one word that I can use for all of this is motivation. I feel like, if you are not motivated by people who've worked the same journey, or the same road, it will be difficult for you to actually have interest in something. So I motivated myself, basically, when it came to going into the science field, I just told myself that this is what I wanted to do. So I feel like having these platforms, especially way the platforms are surrounded by women. I feel like as an woman, or as a young girl child, in high school, or in primary, you feel like, okay, so science is not that difficult. This person is doing it, and she looks like she's enjoying it. So I feel like the most important thing, or the reason why I feel like these platforms are important is just for motivation. So the reason why I also started my science page, is because I wanted to motivate another young girl, I just wanted them to feel that it's okay, to go into the science world, science is not that difficult. And I just wanted to destroy this idea of science being a male dominated field, because historically, that's what it is. A lot of males are found in engineering, they're found in the mathematical areas, they're found in technology they just found in STEM as a whole. So I just wanted to remind, or just to show other young girls that it's possible, like, I'm moving forward, so

Anne Chisa:

it's honestly possible. Oh, wow, amazing. Yeah. Being a visible role model to somebody else. And that's what I think this field needs. And speaking of motivation. As we close off this conversation, which has been really lovely, I wanted to ask you, what sort of words of advice would you give somebody who's interested in the field of STEM? in your field? or just in general, what would you say to them? Hello. Um,

Mishumo Nemathaga:

you know, first of all, I have to be honest, it's a very, very challenging field. So as much as it is challenging, it is important for you to actually take the journey with an open mind and willingness to actually learn from your mistakes, because you are going to make mistakes. And those mistakes are not there to destroy you, but they are there to make you stronger. So number one, it's important to go there with an open mind. And then number two, you need to believe in yourself and you need to believe in your abilities. You need to set goals you need to set aspirations and interests. And you need to also have values that you continue to follow as you go through your academic journey. And then number three, you need to also remember that we make at academic choices every single day, like I make choices work every day. It's either I choose not to or I choose to actually do something chose choices every day. And it's important to aim high. Don't limit yourself and just go for it. And the last thing that that I would say is that you need to have you need to have zeal for what you're doing. And you need to also be brave enough to to go through the STEM fields and persevere. You need to really persevere and end goal for it, are you worth it? At the end of the day and and remember that you're not doing it for anybody else but yourself.

Anne Chisa:

Yeah, wow, so many, so many so many amazing takeaways that you've left us with. And all of them so true. And it's really great to hear how passionate you are about motivating our others, and just how much just from hearing this conversation, how the young girl who started who knew what she wanted to be in primary school, to where you are now. And I'm pretty excited for you and your future successes. So thank you so much for coming on and sharing your story and just having a lovely chat with me today.

Mishumo Nemathaga:

Thank you for having me. This is truly amazing, and a great opportunity. I'm actually on it. So thank you so much.

Anne Chisa:

Oh, you're most welcome. You're most welcome. And to everybody else. Thank you so much for tuning in to tuning in to another episode of The Root of the Science Podcast with your girl Anthony. Until next time, goodbye.