HomeHome / Blog / North

Jun 08, 2023


The recent autumn graduations at the North-West University’s (NWU’s)

The recent autumn graduations at the North-West University's (NWU's) Vanderbijlpark Campus brought a momentous achievement for one employee in particular – Dr Bonelwa Sidumo.Dr Sidumo, a statistics lecturer and emerging researcher, received her PhD in operational research.The 33-year-old was born and bred in Centane, a rural town in the Eastern Cape, to a self-employed taxi driver and housewife. However, even when faced with limited resources and opportunities, her drive and determination helped her overcome obstacles and to achieve her dreams.Dr Sidumo says her parents instilled in her the value of perseverance and dedication, and always stressed the importance of education."My parents were illiterate, but they taught us the importance of education. I witnessed my parents’ unwavering support for education from an early age. Growing up in a household with limited resources, my parents worked tirelessly to support the family. As a taxi driver, my father braved long hours and navigated the roads to ensure our needs were met. Meanwhile, my mother, a housewife, managed the household affairs with love and care, creating a nurturing environment for our growth," she says.Today the single mother of one has an impressive educational background, having earned her BSc in geology and mathematical statistics from the University of Fort Hare in 2011. She completed her BScHons degree in applied statistics at the same institution in 2012. In 2018, she received her MSc in mathematical statistics from Rhodes University.Her primary area of research lies in the development and application of machine learning methods that can be used to answer various ecological questions. She is particularly interested in the improvement of statistical approaches that are used to model ecological datasets."My research is driven by a motivation to assist ecologists in developing models that will provide biologically meaningful results. I hope my research will have an impact on ecological studies facing data problems," she says.Dr Sidumo says, as someone passionate about statistics and fascinated by its applications to ecological research, pursuing a PhD at a young age was a natural choice for her."I was driven by a desire to deepen my understanding of statistical methods and their potential to advance the field of ecology. Additionally, I was motivated by a desire to challenge myself intellectually and develop my research skills."Dr Sidumo, who is the third child among eight siblings, credits her family and the people around her for making her academic journey easy.She says she was fortunate enough to have amazing people around her who have made her academic journey much easier."I didn't have many challenges. The support I received from my family, supervisors, and colleagues was what I needed. I managed my time well while also taking care ofmyself, thereby maintaining a good work/life balance," she adds.Dr Sidumo is also a New Generation of Academics Programme (nGAP) scholar at the NWU, and says she was fortunate to have Dr Piet Ntema as her mentor. She also credits nGAP manager Prof Susan Visser for supporting her throughout her academic journey.