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UJ Chemical Engineering graduate fast-tracked to PhD at Louisiana State University

In an exceptional academic achievement, a University of Johannesburg (UJ) Chemical Engineering graduate, Marvellous Mareya, has been accepted directly into a PhD programme, bypassing the traditional Master’s degree. This prestigious recognition underscores the graduate’s outstanding capabilities and the high quality of education provided by UJ.

Marvellous Mareya
Marvellous Mareya

The leap from an Honours degree to a PhD is a rare and commendable accomplishment, highlighting Mareya’s dedication and the university’s support in fostering top-tier talent. “I feel incredibly honoured and excited about the opportunity to pursue a PhD straight from Honours. To me, it is still a dream, and I thank God Almighty for this wonderful opportunity. When I received the offer with full funding and a teaching assistant position, I could not believe it. The sleepless nights and late hours in the lab paid off. For every African child with determination and resilience towards their studies, it is possible despite any background they come from,” said Mareya.

A journey of dedication and research

The 26-year-old’s dedication speaks for itself. He actively researched institutions known for their contributions to chemical engineering research and discovered the UJ collaboration opportunities with prestigious universities abroad, which led him to apply for the PhD programme at Louisiana State University in the USA. The university is known for its cutting-edge, high-quality research in chemical engineering. Mareya has always been fascinated by the potential of chemical engineering to solve complex global challenges, from sustainable energy solutions to environmental protection. “Its interdisciplinary nature and practical applications align perfectly with my interests and career goals.”

Mareya received the prestigious Vice Dean’s Postgraduate Award in recognition of his outstanding academic performance during his Honours studies. He credits Prof. Thandiwe Sithole for her invaluable mentorship as his supervisor. “It has been nothing short of transformative. I have published my Bachelor’s (Undergraduate) findings, titled: Transformation of rice husk modified basic oxygen furnace slag into geopolymer composites, in the renowned Q1 Journal of Materials Research and Technology with an impact factor of 6.4. Furthermore, my Honour’s findings, titled: Turning fly ash and waste gypsum into a resource for backfilling applications, were published in a reputed Q1 research journal called Case Studies in Construction Materials with an impact factor of 6.2. This is a reflection of the type of guidance and mentorship you get from the passionate Prof. Sithole.”

PhD research and future aspirations

Mareya’s thesis for his PhD will focus on material science, aiming to contribute new insights into the sustainable use of resources. He continued to commend the impact Prof. Sithole has had on him and his academic research work. “Her passion for the subject and dedication to student success have been truly inspiring. She has the ability to make complex topics accessible and engaging. Her encouragement and support have motivated me to strive for excellence and explore new ideas with confidence.”

Mareya added that his family was overjoyed and extremely supportive of his achievements. “They have always encouraged my academic pursuits and are thrilled to see me take this next step in my career. I would like to thank the Chemical Engineering Department for writing me strong letters of recommendation. I am incredibly grateful for the knowledge and guidance they have provided, and I look forward to applying what I have learned in my future endeavours.”

“This milestone not only marks a significant personal triumph but also shines a spotlight on UJ’s contribution to global academia,” said Prof. Sithole. She noted that Mareya is a determined and focused student who knows what he wants in life. “Some opportunities come once in a lifetime, and he grabbed it. This achievement is also an opportunity for UJ to show the world what kind of students we are producing, and it will motivate other students to see how the UJ qualification can open international doors for you.”

Mareya’s PhD program is scheduled to begin in August.

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