Wits chemist is the first African woman on ‘periodic table’

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FEATURED PHOTO: Dr Sadhna Mathura’s research on the relationship between vitamin B12 and cobalt has secured her a spot on the Periodic Table of Younger Chemists. Photo: Onke Ngcuka.

A Wits University lecturer gains international recognition for her research on vitamin B12 and cobalt.

CORRECTION (04/09/2018): This article originally referred to Dr Mathura as the ‘first African’ to win this accolade. Mathura has pointed out that she is the first African woman and first South African to be added to the table. The article also stated that Mathura was trained in ‘biochemistry and science’ when it should have read ‘biochemistry and
genetics’. The errors are regretted and have been corrected in the copy below.

Wits University chemistry lecturer, Dr Sadhna Mathura has become the first African woman to be added to the Periodic Table of Younger Chemists by the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC). Mathura, who was honoured with the award on August 22, will represent the element cobalt and is currently one of only six women on the table.

The Periodic Table of Younger Chemists was created in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the IUPAC and honours 118 outstanding young chemists from around the globe.

Mathura is currently developing a project that combines knowledge of vitamin B12 and cobalt as well as her previous training in biochemistry and genetics to address neonatal jaundice. The 39-year-old told Wits Vuvuzela that she was deeply honoured and grateful to have been nominated and awarded by a world authority in chemistry. She added that she
accepted the award on behalf of future young scientists, chemists and free-thinkers.

Mathura said that her presentation of the element cobalt was closely related to Vitamin B12, which supports cardiovascular health and even the nervous system. “Many of us know that Vitamin B12 is critical for human health and well-being because of its role in several physiological functions. B12 has a very interesting relationship with cobalt, making it one of the only vitamins to contain a metal ion,” she added.

Head of the School of Chemistry, Professor Dean Brady, told Wits Vuvuzela that Mathura is an expert in Vitamin B12 chemistry. “Beyond the research Sadhna is also known for her dedication to excellent teaching and support of student learning. The School of Chemistry is very proud to have her as one of its PhD graduates and the students are fortunate to have such an inspired lecturer,” Brady said.

Mathura said that she encourages students, especially young women, to show interest in science in order to address global challenges.

Written by: Onke Ngcuka
Originally published: Witsvuvuzela.com/2018/08/30/wits-chemist-first-african-on-periodic-table