Aug 2022 1st edition

Young researcher ploughs back

Written by Ursula Graaff

Researcher and academic, Thuli Khanyile (34) from Durban in KwaZulu-Natal is proud to be contributing to the fight against HIV/AIDS in South Africa and promoting innovation among young learners.

She holds a B-Tech degree in Biotechnology from the Tshwane University of Technology and did her in-service training at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research in 2011, which is where she was introduced to HIV research.

She holds a Masters of Science Degree in Medicine, specialising in molecular medicine and haematology from the University of Witwatersrand, and is currently a lecturer and a PhD candidate at the same institution.

Her research investigates different DNA strategies for the development of HIV vaccines.Thuli Khanyile is a young researcher investigating different DNA strategies for the development of HIV vaccines.

“Initially, I wanted to become a medical doctor but I was intrigued by the behind-the-scenes work of medicine. So, I decided to become a researcher instead. I want to contribute to the field of HIV drug discovery,” says Khanyile.

She encourages young people to consider careers in research and problem-solving.

“They should be encouraged to come up with solutions to challenges facing the country. The first step is to study towards Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) while in high school because that is what is required to study for a qualification in Biotechnology,” she says.

Nka'Thuto Edu Propeller

In April 2016, Khanyile, together with Thandeka Mhlanga (32), established Nka’Thuto Edu Propeller, a non-profit organisation that seeks to advance innovation, science and creativity in previously disadvantaged communities, one student at a time.

“We task young people to use STEM principles that they know and understand to solve problems they see in society,” says Khanyile.

Unfortunately, due to the impact of COVID-19 on businesses, Nka’Thuto Edu Propeller lost its primary funder but the Department of Science and Innovation stepped in to help.

Her message to women and young girls this Women’s Month is that women are capable of doing anything.

“In the future, we are going to see more women taking leadership positions because of their are empathic and nurturing coupled with their technical skills. For me, that makes you, as a woman and as a girl, a force to be reckoned with,” says Khanyile.

For more information, you can contact Nka’Thuto Edu Propeller on their website at or call them on 010 534 6454

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