Acne breakouts and treatments are the basis for this award-winning research.

A Wits master’s student in pharmaceutical microbiology, is the first in her department to win the Wits FameLab competition which was hosted online on May 7, 2021.

The competition served to give Shivani Ramburrun an opportunity to debunk myths and misinformation surrounding the use of natural products. “Science communication informs us about the latest scientific news and breakthroughs and serves to inspire us to pursue further research,” she said.

Ramburrun told Wits Vuvuzela that the competition was tough, but she gained confidence with more training from her mentor. “I wasn’t confident when training for the competition began, and I’m surprised I even won.”

Her three-minute presentation was about her research on the combination of essential and carrier oils in treating pimples and acne and finding out if these oils are effective and safe. She explained that essential oils are natural, volatile products that are extracted from plants. Carrier oils are base oils, or vegetable oils, that are non-volatile and are used to dilute essential oils before being applied to the skin.

Her research also studied the combination of naturally derived rosehip carrier oil and essential oils. She said: “The combination of these oils reduces toxicity when applied to the skin; stops the growth of bacteria causing acne and soothes redness and swelling associated with inflammation.” Her research found that this oil combination restores the health and balance of the skin.

“There are plenty of lifehacks for pimples and acne remedies on the internet, however, they are often unsupported by scientific evidence. A number of these popular lifehacks for acne are ineffective and/or may damage the skin by causing itching, burning or redness,” said Ramburrun.

Dr Nosipho Gumbi was a part of the judging team for the competition. She spoke on behalf of her fellow judges and said that Ramburrun’s presentation “had a balance between scientific content and charisma. It was easy to follow from beginning to end, and she didn’t use technical terms and concepts that would leave the audience confused.”

Gumbi also said that it was not an easy task judging the presentations, as deliberation went on for long because contestants were all above par. “Research work that is conducted at Wits University is indeed exciting and relevant and more people need to hear about it,” she added.

With her win, Ramburrun aspires to reach a greater audience and continue to communicate her research while educating others. She will be participating in the national semi-finals. Details are yet to be confirmed.

FEATURED IMAGE: Shivani Ramburrun, winner of second Wits FameLab. Photo: Twitter