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The University of Zululand (UNIZULU) recently kicked off another week-long initiative, Research Week Programme to promote research opportunities for academics and students.  UNIZULU’s Research Week will run from Monday 9 September until Friday 13 September 2019.

Held in the Library at the KwaDlangezwa Campus, the launch of the event was opened by Professor Nhlanhla Mlitwa, Director: Research and Innovation. He said he hoped that all the students, emerging researchers and academics who would be attending the event would benefit from the insightful information.

“This programme is a series of activities that will focus on various research-related topics such as proposal development, writing articles for publication, research design development and hopefully will provide practical support for supervisors,” Prof Mlitwa said.

According to him, this programme is in line with the University’s research strategy which positions the Research and Innovation Unit as a pillar for the University’s research production in terms of supporting students and academics to increase their scholarly and research output.

The guest speaker during the event was Sifiso Xulu from the Department of Geography and Environmental Studies. He presented a paper titled “Remote Sensing Applications: Opportunities and Prospectus”.

He explained that remote sensing is the science of acquiring information on the surface of a specific object (Earth) without any physical interaction with it. These sensors can be found on satellites or mounted on specific light aircrafts such as drones. There are different types of conducting remote sensing; it can be optical or passive and active. Passive sensors record external stimuli such as in measuring solar energy impact onto the surface of a specific object. In contrast, active sensors record internal stimuli, they measure the duration it takes for the energy used to reflect the sensor.

Using specific examples, Xulu demonstrated how remote sensing applications can be utilised in gathering information on surface features of objects for science data collection and research.

According to him, the advantage of remote sensing is that it has a wide range of applications in diverse fields. In the agricultural sector, it can be used to detect crop pests, plant diseases and prevent the reoccurrence of pests and diseases in a specific region; control damage of forest fires, locate wildlife; urban planning; detect weather conditions; and in the prevention of respiratory diseases using sensors that can detect the increase of sulphur dioxide levels in a specific region.

Although he is in awe of remote sensing, Xulu emphasised the importance of conducting physical on-site analysis to compare the data collected from remote sensing thus verifying the accuracy of your research findings.

Xulu urged emerging researchers and academics to maximise the use of remote sensing as he believes that it will improve decision making in the process of research, improve the vegetation health condition and, ultimately, improve the quality of life for all inhabitants of Earth.