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Faculty trio receive PhDs

30 Jun 2016 - 16:00

Traditionally the focus of UCT’s June graduation is postgraduate students. The graduation of so many undergraduates this June did not, however, detract from the achievement of our postgraduates, specifically those who reached the academic apex by graduating with a doctoral degree.

No fewer than three law faculty members received their PhDs this year. Below are their stories.

Dr Lee-Ann Tong, senior lecture in Commercial Law

Lee-Ann describes the topic of her dissertation, which combines her twin interests of intellectual property and labour law, as “fun and practical”.

She aimed to answer the question of how South Africa ought to regulate ownership of patentable employee-inventions. Thus her dissertation was concerned with developing a South African legal regulatory framework for an optimal default allocation of ownership in patentable inventions made by employee-inventors in the private sector.

Lee-Ann enjoyed the reading she had to do, but had to contend with a nagging fear that the topic she had chosen was not worth writing about.

She is most grateful for the support she got from her husband, Andrew Marshall, and supervisors Professors Rochelle le Roux and Coenraad Visser.

Lee-Ann is a member of the Next Generation Professoriate.

Dr Heleen van Niekerk, researcher in the Mineral Law in Africa project

Heleen describes the thesis writing process as an emotional rollercoaster ride. It helped immensely that she could share this ride with a writing group and her supervisors.

“The lows would often come when I started a new topic and I felt that I had no idea where it was going. At these times I doubted whether I even had a thesis and whether I was capable of completing the enormous task. However, the highlights were in the moments when after weeks and months of struggling, a piece of the puzzle fell into place. This did not normally occur while I was behind my computer, but at times when I was busy with everyday things,” she relates.

Heleen investigated the provision of security of tenure in the South African mining industry as a prerequisite for investor confidence in the administrative regime established by the Minerals and Petroleum Resources Development Act.

She wants to thank her supervisors, one of whom is Professor Hanri Mostert, writing group, husband, Lourens van Niekerk, and close friends for their support while she completed her doctoral studies.

Dr Jacqui Yeats, lecturer in Commercial Law

Jacqui derived the greatest pleasure and sense of achievement from completing her thesis.

“My greatest challenge was time management. We have four young children and I must confess that I initially underestimated how all-consuming the thesis writing process can be, but the demands of parenting (and teaching) often had to take priority over the PhD.”

Despite this, she completed the degree and wants to acknowledge the support of her “long-suffering attorney husband, Louis, who often came home after a long day at the office only to have to debate (yet more) legal principles with me over a meagre supper of scrambled eggs on toast”.

She also pays tribute to her “excellent supervisor, Professor Richard Jooste, as well as the late Professor Mike Larkin - both wise and kind gentlemen from whom I have learned a great deal”.