Prav2 After matriculating at the age of 14 and skipping grades 7, 9 and 10, Previn Naicker has outdone himself again – this time, by completing his doctorate at the age of 23. Naicker, who graduated in December from Wits University with a PhD in biochemistry, matriculated from Star College, Westville, in 2005, finishing his secondary schooling with distinctions in three subjects. But the young scientist remains humble about his achievements. “I feel normal; it’s been a natural progression. I started working a week after the ceremony so I haven’t had time to ponder it, really,” he said laughing. Naicker has been employed as a post-doctoral researcher at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) where he is participating in several product development projects.
“I’m still in research so it has not been a huge change to my routine. There is a lot more pressure and the time frames are a lot shorter but I’m adjusting well.”
He said he would like to work in research diagnostics in the future, looking at parasite-borne diseases in animals. “There’s a need for better vaccines and screens,” he said. Naicker had studied at the University of KwaZulu-Natal previously and specialised in biomedical science. After his studies there, he decided to take a gap year in 2010. “I think I do have somewhat of an advantage because most of the people who are finishing their PhDs are in their 30s and they are facing so many other life pressures,” he said. He advised those embarking on studies to read widely and broaden their outlook by speaking to as many people as they could. Naicker’s parents could not contain their pride. “Previn, from a young age, declared that he wanted to be a scientist and as parents we encouraged him to pursue his career. Nothing seemed to daunt him; he was an inspiration to many, giving tuition to second and third year students that were senior to him,” said his mother, Kamala. She described him as a “dedicated and motivated young man with an extremely high moral fibre”. Image: WitsVuvuzela SOURCE: IOL