Although thousands of miles away from her home in South Africa, Nokuthula Kunene recently said she felt right at home as a visiting scholar at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff.
An animal science professor at the University of Zululand, Kunene spent nearly two weeks learning more about DNA research being done by UAPB associate professor Muthusamy Manoharan and other UAPB scientists.
“I’ve been well accepted,” Kunene said, taking a break while working with Sathish Kumar Ponniah, one of the researchers in a UAPB plant biotechnology and genomics lab. “I felt at home within a short space of time. I will definitely encourage my colleagues to come and work cooperatively.”
UAPB scientists are using a technique called real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR), which amplifies DNA and makes analysis easier in real time.
“Dr. Kunene has learned how to design the primers, run real-time qPCR and analyze the data,” Manoharan said.
“I’ve come to find collaborators for research,” Kunene said, explaining that she is doing sheep genetics research. “I’ve been talking to researchers in animal and plant science (at UAPB) and I will go back to my department and share what everyone is doing here.”
Kunene also met with Obadiah Njue, head of the UAPB Department of Agriculture, to discuss opportunities for collaboration. Njue is currently developing a project proposal with the UNIZULU Department of Geography. This proposal would enable faculty and Extension specialists to collaborate with UNIZULU and other partners in Kenya to conduct research and provide technical assistance to farming communities in the Tana River Basin in Kenya.
Kunene’s visit was arranged through the UAPB Office of International Programs and Studies. The office is working to advance institutional relationships in South Africa. The goal is to strengthen the university’s international programming content and create more education abroad opportunities for UAPB students, said Pamela D. Moore, associate director for Global Engagement.