“Science is a gift from God, He gave it to us so we can know more about him” – Dr. Joe Francis
Growing up, science had intrigued me and I’ve always had a fascination with plants. I was that kid who used to cut up an entire plant and concoct something in my plastic kitchen set or follow the leaf venation or literally stare at the fine hair that covered it. Naturally, when the time came to apply for university, I chose the science field, BSc Microbial Biotechnology to be exact. To be honest, I wasn’t quite sure what that was about. My start to the undergraduate life was a little rough. I failed chemistry twice, not my finest moment and I guess I was still figuring the whole “campus life”.
In my second year, I decided to switch degrees to a BSc in Biological science. It was during this time that I met the lovely Crystelda. This degree went rather smoothly and in my final semester it was a prerequisite to take on a research module. I had chosen a project that was plant related as that had peaked my interest. You could say that this had opened my eyes to what research entailed. I absolutely loved being in the lab environment and applying techniques that I’ve only studied in theory. I got a taste of conducting experiments and I knew that I wanted to do this again and so I decided to apply to for my honours degree which consisted of a yearlong research module. However, the selection process was based on merit and limited places were available. I applied and said a prayer.
I soon found out that I received a place in the honours class, was offered an amazing, plant based, silver nanoparticle project with an accompanying bursary. My honours degree went well and I was able to publish my research in the South African Journal of Botany. It was a privilege that not many honours students receive. This, more than anything made me believe in my abilities and competence as a biologist and researcher. Up until this point, I trusted God and his plan for my life, but it was always from a place of comfortability. Honestly, I wasn’t even attending church regularly.
Once honours was over, I thought, what next? I think deep down I knew that research is in my blood but I also knew that I wanted to more with it than just conduct experiments. I felt the urge to help others and impact communities with the research that I conduct. As God would have it, the first project that I looked at when pursuing my master’s degree, was one in collaboration with Ethekwini Agri Hub. This would assist the rural communities by ultimately providing them with a commonly consumed African leafy vegetable that had a high nutritional value.
A few pics of my lab work plus a selfie with my plants.
It was during the first year of masters that my boyfriend and I visited Rivers church, we felt a sense of belonging and soon made Rivers our spiritual home. So here I was, loving masters and attending a great church but I felt that something was missing. I decided to get plugged into church life and began serving on the visual aspect of the production team. This wasn’t a difficult decision, it felt natural. I found a new passion, besides science. It’s always been said that when you decide to take your relationship with God seriously and serve him, you are tested in many ways. And sure enough, the tests did come, from numerous random “out there” health issues, chronic migraines, a difficult supervisor, to issues with experimentations not working out.
A view of the visual production set up at church, where I serve.
These definitely took a toll on my mental health and soon feelings of incompetence and an overall sense of demotivation crept in. I questioned my decision to pursue research but never once did I doubt God’s plan (insert drake soundtrack here) for my life. I found myself looking forward to the midweek rehearsals at church as a refuel that lifted me up during tough weeks and also knowing that I am a part of something greater.
Looking back, I would have never thought that, that little kid messing around with plants would be on the road to finishing up a Master of Science degree. I had the privilege to speak to high school kids about my research and plant sciences as a whole, through the UKZN open days and at career expos and I was able to present my honours research paper at a UKZN postgraduate research day. When I think about all the opportunities that have come my way, I can truly say that it was God’s unmerited favour and grace upon my life. When my walk with Him was weak, He carried me!
Hopefully inspiring young scientists and a picture of my research paper.
If you haven’t already, give Hillsong United’s “So Will I (100 Billion X)” a listen. It truly affirms the quote at the beginning of this write up and attests to God’s glory. Thank you Crys for affording me the privilege to share a part of my journey and passion and thank you to all who took the time to read this.
Much love -Megan