Dr Ghaneshree Moonsamy is a biotechnologist who uses her technical expertise to develop impactful and sustainable technologies for small, medium and micro enterprises and industry partners, driven by her passion for science. But she is equally driven by her passion for people drawing on her personal career experiences to mentor and motivate young people to take on careers in science and technology.
Dr Ghaneshree Moonsamy started her career at the CSIR in 2006 as an in-service trainee of the bioprocessing development research group. With grit and passion, she progressed to the position of senior researcher in bioprocess development in 2016. Her research interest in the development of production technologies for bio-based products led her to pursue a Master’s degree in biotechnology with the Durban University of Technology. Her thesis, which focused on the development of a bioprocess technology for the production of Vibrio midae, a probiotic of value in abalone aquaculture, was converted to a doctoral degree – a first for the university.
This achievement is one of many accolades. Other notable milestones include developing several licensed technologies and commercially available products that have been taken up by the market and are generating royalties for the CSIR. She also counts working with small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs) in developing suitable technologies for market to support their business growth, as a milestone.
“Finding ways to develop sustainable technologies for SMMEs and our industry partners is one of our main objectives. As we know, the human population has overexploited natural resources. As a result, part of our research and development activities explore how micro-organisms can be suitably applied so that we live more sustainably. One such approach is how
agricultural biological agents may be applied to reduce the use of chemical pesticides for better crops, with less disease and carry-over of chemical products to human consumers.”
Another avenue is the development of human and animal probiotics. Moonsamy adds that the CSIR probiotic technology development approach is not only aimed at improving the livelihoods of humans, but it also explores a more sustainable way of producing animals for human consumption. So, as part of driving the development of circular technologies and an economy that drives this agenda, the CSIR team grows micro- organisms using waste feedstocks from other industries in order to generate probiotics and agricultural biological agents, as well as other products of value, from these waste substrates.
Years of experience in research, working with industry, and her passion for mentoring young people have made her the ideal candidate to transfer her knowledge to learners and postgraduate students. As an advocate for young people taking on careers in science, she has volunteered her time to a number of educational media programmes for children.”
“My career journey has not been easy; it has been a mixed bag of ups and downs, and a balance between work, my postgraduate studies and being a mother. As a result of my experiences and personal journey, my idea of success is not just about the impact of my academically inclined science outputs on society, but it is also about finding meaningful ways to use my experience to help nurture the skills of those around me,” says Moonsamy.
“I consider myself to be very blessed to have a career that is so fulfilling. When I look back, I realise that all I have achieved thus far is something to be proud of, and all that I have learnt throughout my journey, I ought to share with young people who are aspiring scientists. I believe that if each one could teach one, our personal successes could contribute to empowered and knowledgeable future scientists,” concludes Moonsamy.
Current position: CSIR senior researcher
Career type: Biotechnologist
Education: PhD (Biotechnology), Durban University of Technology, 2019