Women of Wonder

Emmie Chiyindiko is bridging the gap for women in science

31 August 2020 - 06:00 By Sharon Mazingaizo
Emmie Chiyindiko is a scientist who is also interested in educational research.
Emmie Chiyindiko is a scientist who is also interested in educational research.
Image: University of the Free State

WHO IS SHE?

Emmie Chiyindiko, 26, is a scientist who is passionate about combating the devastating effects of climate change. 

Chiyindiko is now a chemistry PhD student at the University of the Free State (UFS) who completed her undergraduate studies in Zimbabwe and moved to SA in 2017 to complete her master's and PhD.

Chiyindiko is also an award-winning science communicator and lecturer at Central University of Technology (CUT).

Emmie Chiyindiko is a Zimbabwean scientist and lecturer at the University of the Free State.
Emmie Chiyindiko is a Zimbabwean scientist and lecturer at the University of the Free State.
Image: University of the Free State

CLAIM TO FAME

As a woman in science, Chiyindiko shattered the glass ceiling in 2018 when she won the  FameLab SA science competition and was named best science communicator.

She went on to compete in the international competition in the United Kingdom. Recently she facilitated the SA Agency for Science and Technology Advancement provincial science debate competition.  

Chiyindiko’s PhD work focuses on green chemistry, a way of maintaining environmentally sound practices through the life cycle of chemical products.

Chemistry has revolutionised many areas of our lives, from medicine and agriculture to a number of daily conveniences, which she acknowledges was done with many unintended consequences.

“Green chemistry is simply saying we can do better. We can design products so they reduce or eliminate hazards to human health and the environment,” she said.

Another area of interest is educational research, and she is expanding her research in gifted learners’ education, specifically in Africa.

“My first collaborative paper on it was a meta-analysis to appraise the overall state of the gifted learner in SA from 1994 to present days. Two and a half decades after the demise of  apartheid, the ratio of previously disadvantaged (black) gifted learners to previously advantaged (white) gifted learners is still inadequate. The underrepresentation of previously disadvantaged gifted learners is largely due to the use of traditional methods of identification, that is, intelligence quotient and standardised achievement tests. My objective is to create novel non-traditional identification methods to address the issue of underrepresentation and provide customised student support,” said Chiyindiko.

MOTIVATION

Chiyindiko's advice to women considering a career in science: “You will find yourself in rooms with smart, highly qualified and enigmatic people. Remember you deserve to be there. Breathe, relax, network. When faced with a tough life/career decision, do not run polls but instead search within you. Trust your intuition.”

The sky is the limit.