BY Stephen Chadenga
Multiple award-winning Midlands State University (MSU) lecturer Gift Mehlana was recently chosen to represent the radioactive chemical element, Californium, on the periodic table of chemical elements in recognition of his outstanding achievements in the field of chemistry.
According to MSU, Mehlana was honoured during the 14th International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) congress of crop protection held in Belgium on May 19.
“In celebration of its 100th anniversary, IUPAC, in partnership with the International Younger Chemists Network (IYCN), created a periodic table of younger chemists, which honours a diverse group of 118 outstanding younger chemists from around the world who embody the mission and core values of IUPAC,” MSU said in a statement.
“This means Mehlana is among the world’s most esteemed young chemists and his achievement is no mean feat as his name, together with those of other awardees, will be engraved on the IUPAC periodic table of elements for the next century.”
In April this year, the African Academy of Sciences and Royal Society awarded Mehlana, who is also chairperson in the chemical technology department, £300 000 to establish an independent research unit to address global challenges affecting Zimbabwe.
Through the grant, he is expected to work on technology to capture carbon dioxide and convert it to other useful chemicals, such as formic acid and methanol, thus addressing environmental concerns as well as provide organic starting materials for the chemical industry in countries without fossil oil resources.
Last year, Mehlana also won a chemistry research award that included a grant of US$25 000 to be used for scientific research. The awards presented at the eighth IUPAC International Conference on Green Chemistry held in Thailand sought to identify young scientists with a penchant for the advancement of green chemistry.
Mehlana is a recipient of other global accolades, including the African-German Network of Excellent Sciences Award in 2015 and the International
Centre for Diffraction Data Award in 2013.