Meet PGSC member and problem solver Judi Kuyler

Growing up on a dairy farm in George, Postgraduate Student Council (PGSC) member Judi Kuyler has always been fond of solving problems. “I enjoy spending time with my dad, fixing things, and working with my hands,” explains Judi. After attending the university’s Open Day and Winter week during high school, she realised that chemical engineering would be the perfect degree choice. “It was a way to combine problem-solving with my favourite school subjects, mathematics, biology and science. It was a good fit.”

A good fit, indeed! Today, Judi is a Master’s student, under the guidance of Prof Eugéne van Rensburg, with Prof Johann Görgens and Prof Sampson Mamphweli as co-supervisors. She is conducting research on using micro-aeration to improve the anaerobic digestion process. “I am passionate about my project because it allows me to combine biology with my chemical engineering skills,” she says. “My final year project included anaerobic digestion. I became fascinated by how almost any waste stream can be used as a feedstock to the digester and how it produces biogas, which is seen as a form of green energy.” As a PGSC member, Judi also manages the Postgraduate Symposium portfolio. For aspiring chemical engineering students, Judi warns not to underestimate the workload. “It gets more every year, [but] don’t get discouraged by lower marks than you are used to. Remember that university isn’t the same as high school.” True to her nature as a problem-solver, Judi also has the following engineering joke to add: “What is the definition of an engineer? Someone who solves a problem you didn’t know you had in a way you don’t understand.”