From rural Kenya to a UJ PhD

Date: Oct 6, 2017 | Faculties, Faculty of Science, News


Thomas Mkare, a man from humble beginnings in Kenya, graduated from the University of Johannesburg (UJ) proving that putting your mind to something pays off.

Dr Mkare graduated from UJ with a PhD in Zoology on Wednesday, 4 October 2017.

Born and raised in Kilifi, a rural coastal region in Kenya, Dr Mkare, who dropped out of high school and stayed home for six months, refused to let difficult times bring him down.

“I was fortunate enough to complete high school, thanks to a sponsorship from Ms Rosemary Wales, a citizen of the United Kingdom. She encouraged me to complete my high school education,” said Dr Mkare.

At 33, his life’s achievements are something to be admired. In 2008, Dr Mkare obtained a BSc degree in Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences from Moi University (Kenya) and holds an MSc degree in Zoology (cum laude) from Stellenbosch University.

Dr Mkare was awarded UJ Global Excellence and Stature Scholarship, which assisted him to pursue his PhD studies. His research focussed on the demographic history of the Knysna seahorse, Hippocampus capensis – the world’s most endangered seahorse owing to its exceptionally small range, which is limited to three South African estuaries.

Dr Mkare’s research finding paves the way for genetic augmentation initiatives to maximise each population’s adaptive potential, and improve the seahorse’s chances of surviving the negative effects of human activities.

Dr Mkare’s research has been published in six international peer-reviewed journals and he has presented his findings at two international conferences.

“I want to make an impact not only in my country or South Africa but across the globe. To this end, I live by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. I was determined to set goals for myself. I now have the knowledge to make a difference in the lives of people and to save threatened species,” said Dr Mkare.

Dr Mkare concludes: “My achievements would not have been possible without the support of my lecturers and supervisors. I’m proud that I’m now a UJ alumnus.”

Thomas Mkare

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