Professor Tricia Naicker, Associate Professor at UKZN’s College of Health Sciences.

BY: Nombuso Dlamini

The youngest Associate Professor at UKZN’s College of Health Sciences, Professor Tricia Naicker, has been awarded the 2020 Raikes Medal by the South African Chemical Institute.

The medal acknowledges a member of the Institute, under the age of 40, whose original chemical research performed in South Africa shows outstanding promise, as displayed in articles they have had published in reputable journals.

Naicker is only one of three researchers – and the first woman – from UKZN to win the Raikes Medal since its inception in 1961.

‘I feel really honoured to have won in this category and am thankful to my nominator and long-time mentor Professor Gert Kruger,’ said an elated Naicker.

To add to her accolades, Naicker is also the winner of the prestigious UKZN Vice-Chancellor’s 2019 Award valued at R150 000. The award is presented annually to a pre-eminent researcher at UKZN in recognition of outstanding research achievements and the international reputation acquired.

Her most recent and remarkable milestone was reaching her 100th publication in 2020.

‘I hope my success encourages other emerging academics and students to pursue their goals in whichever subject they are passionate about,’ she said.

Naicker, part of the Discipline of Pharmaceutical Sciences since 2013, is consistently rated in the Top 10 young researchers at UKZN. She holds various other national awards from the Department of Science and Technology and the National Research Foundation.

She specialises in method development within the synthesis of biologically important intermediates/drugs within the field of antibacterials.

Naicker thanked her hardworking students, dedicated mentors and collaborators at the Catalysis and Peptide Research Unit whilst not forgetting the support of her family.

The College of Health Sciences’ Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Busi Ncama congratulated Naicker on her achievement. ‘I am very proud of Professor Tricia Naicker being an academic in our College. I am not surprised that she received this award – she is an outstanding researcher, very dedicated and very humble.’

She said the University community was equally proud of Naicker and encouraged her to continue flying the UKZN flag high.