AFDA alumni of the week # 149 - Dr Preshanthan Moodley

Alumni of the week, 08 August 2019



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Award-winning filmmaker Dr Preshanthan Moodley obtained his PhD in the field of Science at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN).

Preshanthan, who hails from Richards Bay, in northern KwaZulu-Natal, moved to Johannesburg after completing his matric to study film-making at AFDA, the South African School of Motion Picture where he obtained his Bachelor of Arts Honours degree.

In 2008, whilst completing his degree, Preshanthan directed his first independent movie which was distributed in South Africa and broadcast on DSTV. He also produced and directed two seasons of a South African celebrity talk show titled Spill the Beans Over Coffee, which featured guests that included Isidingo actors, socialite and businesswoman Sorisha Naidoo, radio personality Darren Maule, actress Jena Dover and many others.

Two years later Preshanthan produced South Africa’s his first Bollywood-style film titled Yeh Rishta. He also accumulated many accolades, namely the award for Best Student TV Production in 2008 and an Indian Cinema Centenary Award in 2013. For most people this would be the makings of a successful career but not for Preshanthan.

He always had a passion for both filmmaking and science. After completing his filmmaking degree he decided to pursue his other passion. He chose the field of renewable energy because he believes that it is an arena that requires fast thinking and solutions to prevent catastrophe in the energy and environmental sectors.

Preshanthan joined UKZN in 2011 where he began his third degree, a Bachelor of Science (BSc) in Microbiology which he completed in the allocated time. He went on to complete his BSc Honours degree and thereafter a Masters degree which he not only completed in one year but also passed it cum laude.

Preshanthan completed a PhD in the record time of two years. Preshanthan always had aspirations of completing a PhD and having completed many degrees (in both science and film), to be awarded his PhD was a dream come true.

His PhD research focused on the microbial conversion of sugarcane leaf waste into bioethanol. It entailed developing novel pre-treatment strategies to enhance the enzymatic saccharification of sugarcane leaf waste and consequently examining the fermentation kinetics of bioethanol production.

Preshanthan is most proud to have completed his master’s degree cum laude in one year, completed his PhD in two years and six publications in high impact international journals. ‘I realised that science communication is an exciting field that has been recently gaining attention. I found that by combining my expertise from both my film and science, I have been able to produce scientifically sound videos for various purposes. In 2014, I produced an informative video about Ebola during the 2014 outbreak. I have also produced several high quality promotional videos for UKZN’s College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science, providing insight to school learners about the various science disciplines UKZN has to offer.’

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