Shireen Mentor, a 29-year-old PhD student from the University of Western Cape, has been named one of the world’s top young scientists, earning a scholarship to study in the USA
Every year, about 30 Nobel Laureates convene in Lindau, Germany to meet the next generation of leading scientists. Between 500-600 undergraduates, PhD students, and post-doc researchers from all over the world are invited to attend The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings. These meetings foster the exchange among scientists of different generations, cultures, and disciplines.
Shireen Mentor, a South African PhD student, attended the Noble Laureate Meetings and was named one of the world’s top young scientists.
She was one of six South African female scientists nominated by the Academy of Science of South Africa to attend the event. She was chosen and set of earlier this month.
Her research has been focused on understanding addiction, a disease that is rife among the residents of the Cape Flats. It was this that led to her receiving an incredible opportunity to head to the USA.
“Mentor has just heard she’s been awarded a Fullbright Scholarship from the University of Missouri in the USA, and is currently preparing her visa and other necessary documents for her departure in September. She will be away for nine months,” explains Harriet Box, UWC’s communications officer.
Growing up near Manenberg, Shireen witnessed how drugs drastically change lives. She decided to make this her focus during her studies. In a statement, she shares how her life inspired her research.
“My original research was situated squarely within the context of substance abuse. My neighbourhood, like many others in the greater Cape Town, experiences high levels of substance abuse, in particular methamphetamine – and this inspired me to look at the science behind it,”
“In my honours year I investigated the effects of methamphetamine on the blood-brain barrier (BBB) permeability, since the mechanism may be linked to the integrity of the BBB, which regulates the movement of ions, pathogens, and an array of harmful substances across brain capillaries, protecting the cognitive integrity of the central nervous system.
“UWC has been my stepping stone in many respects. I’m looking forward to learning more about how my research may one day be able to make a meaningful contribution to treating addiction.”
At age 29, she is already a published scientist in prominent scientific journals, and she was the first recipient of the coveted national Wyndham Prize from the Physiology Society of Southern Africa in 2014.