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Kolisa Yola Sinyanya

PhD candidate in Oceanography, University of Cape Town


And - Blogger, Women In Science Hub 

We make discoveries that one expands our way of seeing, interpreting and ultimately dealing with or treating our surroundings. 

What do you do?

I am studying for a PhD in Oceanography at the University of Cape Town.

Why did you choose this field?

I chose this field because I was interested in understanding marine microbial communities. Basically, in my Master’s I investigated microbes associated with leguminous plants found in the fynbos biome. This spiked my interests to understand microbes in the ocean.

What do you look at and think, "I wish younger me would have known this was possible"?

The achievement that makes me extremely proud so far is making it to PhD level as a black woman in the science field. It is mentally demanding and requires good basics of education because that sets the tone for one’s future in the field. As a little girl I did not even know how few of us are out there, both women and black, but I always knew that I was going to be a well-known scientist. Today I am proudly an influential women in science and I’m still going strong, learning every day. A surreal achievement indeed.

Why do you love working in STEM?

"I absolutely love working in STEM because we get to uncover Earth’s secrets."

We make discoveries that one expands our way of seeing, interpreting and ultimately dealing with or treating our surroundings. I also love working in STEM because I contribute to the body of work that aims to add new novel knowledge into our scientific records. Of course, as a scientist you are seen as a braniac, I do love that too! I wake up every day looking forward to working with on my data and being shocked, excited and having feelings of euphoria from the patterns I observe while visualizing the data for science publications and presentations.

Best advice for the next generation

The next generation of girls needs to know that it is possible! If you love what you do it becomes a hobby and not just pure work. Incorporate it into your lifestyle, be really good at it and know that failure is not something that should stop you, but from failure you should take lessons to improve in your next attempt, because every failure or rejection is an opportunity to learn.

Fun fact

Did you know that marine microbes are responsible for taking up about 93% of all the carbon dioxide that causes global warming in the atmosphere? That’s more than all the forests on Earth, combined!