Celebrating youth excellence in science, technology and innovation


Staff Reporter

THIS Youth Month, under the theme “Actively embracing the socio-economic gains of our democracy”, the Department of Science Innovation marks 48 years since the student uprising against the Bantu Education Act.  

During June, the Department of Science and Innovation will showcase some of the increasing number of talented young scientists and researchers that have emerged in the science system in the 30 years since our first democratic election.

Jilene Visser
Ms Jillene Visser

Meet Jillene Visser, a Senior Laboratory Animal Technologist at the Nuclear Medicine Research Infrastructure (NuMeRI).

Visser’s lifelong passion for animals has driven her to become an animal scientist.

“During school breaks, I eagerly volunteered at local veterinary practices and farms, immersing myself in animal care and handling, from large livestock to tiny rodents.  I was fortunate that my parents supported my love for animals, allowing me to care for numerous rescued animals,” she says.

Visser completed an Animal Science BTech degree in 2015 but faced financial obstacles in pursuing her studies. To finance her studies, she worked at an animal reproduction centre in the North-West, eventually obtaining her MTech degree.  

Upon entering the agricultural sector as a female researcher, she experienced significant challenges in this predominantly male-dominated environment.  Undeterred by the circumstances, Visser found mentors to support her.

“I collaborated closely with esteemed veterinarians like Dr Morné De la Rey and Dr Robert Treadwell, specialising in Artificial Reproduction Technology for wildlife and cattle.  I conducted artificial insemination and embryo flushing across a range of species.”

Other career highlights include working as a Laboratory Animal Technologist on infectious diseases with the late Prof. Anton Stoltz, the Head of Infectious Diseases at the Steve Biko Academic Hospital.  “I worked on multidrug-resistant tuberculosis research on guinea pigs and obtained experience working with infectious diseases.”

Visser aims to ensure optimal animal care and conduct procedures as humanely as possible, facilitating the translation of research into meaningful advancements in human clinical studies.

She encourages all young people to follow their dreams and embrace the challenges along the way.


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