UJ’s Philosophy lecturer, Zinhle Mncube awarded chancellor’s medal

Ms Zinhle Mncube is the recipient of the University of Johannesburg (UJ) Chancellor’s Medal for 2016, the highest honour the University bestows on a student. The medal was awarded to her on Tuesday, 23 May 2017.

The Chancellor’s Medal is awarded annually to a final year or postgraduate student who has excelled.

“I am very happy and proud of winning the award. It is a great achievement, says Zinhle Mncube.

Ms Mncube’s Master’s dissertation was entitled “A Philosophical Study of Heritability”. She explained that Heritability is a controversial statistical measure that usually comes up in discussions of nature vs. nurture. She says, it measures the amount of differences in a trait, like intelligence or height, in a human population that can be attributed to differences in genes between the people in the population.

Ms Mncube argued that although heritability is of limited practical use, in some cases, it is nonetheless a measure of the causal strength of genes on observable human traits.

The young lecturer has also been awarded an international scholarship. She will partake as a PhD candidate in History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Cambridge from October 2017.

Zinhle aspires to develop the field of philosophy of medicine in South Africa, especially with a view of having it speak to African concerns and insights. For her PhD, she will be looking into personalised medicine and an African concept of disease. “What ties these studies together is their focus on philosophy of science, specifically philosophy of biology and philosophy of medicine,” Mncube explains.

Zinhle is a lecturer at the University of Johannesburg. Her research interests lie broadly, in the philosophy of science, the philosophy of biology, and the philosophy of race. Her Honour’s research was on the biological basis of race and her Master’s dissertation is on heritability and genetic causation. Zinhle lectures undergraduate courses in metaphysics and epistemology. She is also an Iris Marion Young Scholar and a Cornelius Golightly fellow.

She is also a founding member of UJ’s recently launched African Centre of Epistemology and Philosophy of Science (or ACEPS). She will be one of the people spearheading the Health and Medicine in Africa umbrella project, which is intertwined with her aspirations.

Ms Mncube lives by a quote: “If not me, then who? And if not now, when?” I want to live a life of excellence and of pioneering. If I don’t dream big and follow through on those dreams, who will?

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