Dr Lindleen Mugwagwa is a PhD graduate and researcher in the field of Chemical Engineering.
Tell me about yourself i.e., line of work, education, and career?
I am a PhD graduate and researcher in the field of Chemical Engineering. My research focus is on the development of processes for recovering value-added products from agricultural waste and utilising these products to develop active food packaging material. In this context active food packaging is a material capable of releasing antioxidants into packaged food in response to changes in food storage conditions in a bid to minimise agents responsible for food spoilage, thereby, increasing food shelf life. In other words, biodegradable eco-friendly packaging that has the ability to increase food shelf life.
The academic field has always been an area of passion for me; so soon after completion of my undergrad degree in Chemical Engineering, I pursued a Master’s in Manufacturing Systems and Operations Management. I suppose some may say I have always been a bookworm.
What inspired you to pursue your line of work/business and how much work did it take for you to get where you are now?
During my undergrad studies, l undertook research and design projects that fascinated me to the point of inspiring me to delve more into areas of scientific research and innovation. I specifically enjoyed reading new articles and formulating my own research. Although a career in industry was more appealing soon after college, I felt that furthering my studies and establishing myself as an academic expert in the field was something I needed to pursue first. This was the beginning of a long journey punctuated with many sleepless nights, little social life, a lot of hard work and perseverance.
Every journey has its share of challenges; what were yours? Did you ever feel like giving up? If so, what kept you going?
The major challenge l faced was balancing my research work and family life considering my two other permanent roles as a wife and mother. Despite the challenges, I made time for my family and also took a few personal moments to refresh and relax. At times I felt overwhelmed, but I thank God for the strong support system l have; my husband and kids being at the top of the list.
In comparison to my previous studies, my PhD research was more demanding and it consumed a significant amount of my time. I had to sacrifice a lot of things so I could put in the hours, in the end my efforts paid off. Sometimes we must inconvenience ourselves a little so that we can realise greater rewards in the future.
Any notable milestones/achievement you would like to share?
My greatest achievement to date is probably successfully accomplishing my Ph.D. This is a milestone that I know my late parents would have been so proud of, knowing how much my parents valued education.
I have also managed to publish a book chapter and five research articles in high-ranking journals.
What is the big picture i.e., where to from here?
My goal is to continue contributing to research in the field of Chemical Engineering; in particular, biowaste biorefinery and the development of renewable and biodegradable food packaging material. I also wish to use my knowledge to support the industry.
What word of advice would you like give to others reading your story?
My advice to others is that you are the master of your own destiny and you can achieve anything if you put your mind to it.
Interesting Fact: One thing about me is l don’t give up even when there is a small chance of excelling. That small chance is mine, l grab it and run.
Connect with Dr Lindleen (click the links):
Facebook: Lindleen Mutseiwa-Mugwagwa
LinkedIn: Lindleen Mugwagwa