Silindile Ngcobo

PhD Biomaterials candidate, University of Cape Town


Remember your "why".

What do you do?

I am a scientist in the medical field, with a special focus in regenerative medicine. This means that I work in the laboratory strategizing therapeutics that can promote body tissue to heal itself after injury. At the moment, I am working on developing a novel concept method for synthesising a gel that can optimally deliver specific therapeutics to promote neovascularisation in injured tissue.

Why did you choose this field?

From a young age, I have always been a curious child. I asked a lot of questions, engaged in debates and was always interested in problem solving activities. I enjoyed and did well in mathematics and life sciences in high school. After doing some personal research, I found out that I could pursue medical science as a career and work my way up to being a scientist. It was a challenge to believe in the dream in the early stages as significant role models were limited. I reached to other women who were already in the field and they have since been supportive. Significantly is Dr Patience Mthunzi-Kufa; the head of Biophotonics Research at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research in South Africa.

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

I would definitely say completing my Masters degree. It is significant because it propelled me to greater heights and opened so many doors. I wish younger me had the assurance that it is possible for little girls to dream dreams, turn them into goals and ultimately achieve them; no matter their size.

Why do you love working in STEM?

I love working in STEM because I form part of a bigger community; that is using their skills and gifts to solve global problems. I wake up looking forwarding to tackling an experiment that has potential to contribute in finding a suitable therapeutic.

Best advice for next generation?

Believe and have confidence in themselves. There are boundaries set out by society and preconceived notions on who can do what; look beyond that and remember your "why".

Inspo quote / fun fact / role model

"Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood" Marie Curie

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