Vision to encourage young people so that Africa can rise
Ntombiyenkosi Falala, a 22-year-old bioinformatician, wants to inspire other young South Africans to lead a solutionist generation that will change how the world views Africa.
Falala has a Bachelor of Science in Molecular and Cell Biology, as well as a Post Graduate Diploma in Scientific Studies from Wits University. She also completed a course in Artificial Intelligence: Implications for Business Strategy through MIT.
She has always just loved science. “Science to me is not just a field defined by biology, chemistry, mathematics, physics or the like. It is a state of mind; a scientist views the world from a unique perspective that goes beyond straight lines.” Falala’s interest in molecular and cell biology was peeked at a tender age, when she was in Grade 6. “The grandeur of our existence – from the components that create life to how a single nucleotide base substitution in a gene can lead to dysfunction – is what stimulates my brain and keeps me up all night.”
Learning about Gregor Mendel – whom she refers to as the father of genetics – influenced Falala’s decision to study genetics and when introduced to the concept of bioinformatics at university, she was instantly intent on establishing herself as a bioinformatician. At first inspired by Albert Einstein, Charles Darwin, Francis Crick and James Watson, Ntombiyenkosi’s biggest inspiration today is Rosalind Franklin.
She has since taken a break from molecular and cell biology, although the growth and expansion of her field is still important to her. Falala, who now works at Plus 94 Research, is of the view that even though the achievement associated with research is unparalleled, a scientist should not only be celebrated when they have attained a PhD. “I believe that the unique knowledge and skills attained in the STEM fields should be integrated into all disciplines and industry. The ability to use the knowledge gained through STEM fields to devise a strategic plan to revolutionise another industry to gain competitive advantage is where we will see massive development in the future,” she opines.
Hence, her interest in acquiring knowledge relating to the fourth industrial revolution, the role of artificial intelligence, the subsequent implications for business and the potential of collective intelligence. “That is why when faced with the challenge to develop a proposal for Biometric and Scientific Applications in the field of market research, I felt invigorated and took the challenge on with everything I had,” she adds.