Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Dan Motlhanka: Botswana’s only Professor of Pharmacognosy

After his birth in 1970 in Selolwane Village, Dan Motlhanka started his primary education at Selolwane Primary School in 1978, then Maunatlala Secondary School, and later Moeng College for his O’Levels.

During his two year stay at Moeng College, Dan excelled in all subjects, particularly Science and Maths.

This earned him the name ‘Dan Oxide’.

“There was immense competition for awards in our time. In fact, we never applied for admission at University. In 1989, we were called for University Screening Examinations in preparation for selection into the Pre-entry Science Course (PESC),” he said.

After PESC, Motlhanka then enrolled for a BSc, and later got a scholarship to study Bachelor of Science (Hons) in Biomedicine (1993-1996) at the University of De-Montfort in Leicester England.
After a sterling academic performance, Motlhanka was awarded yet another scholarship at De-Montfort University.

While in his third year at De-Montford, he was offered yet another conditional scholarship to pursue a Masters in Medical and plant Biotechnology. He enrolled for his MSc in 1996 and completed his Masters in 1997 from Ettern-Leur, The Netherlands.

Motlhanka joined the Botswana College of Agriculture in 1999 as a full time but temporary tutor.
He taught Biochemistry and Microbiology. He has also taught other causes, including Genetics, Biology of cells, Biodiversity and economic Botany.

He was later promoted to the position of lecturer.

In 2005, Professor Motlhanka obtained his PhD in Pharmacognosy (the science of studying and sourcing drugs from natural sources) from King’s College, University of London.
In 2008, he was promoted to Senior Lecturer.

In May 2010, Motlhanka was selected as World Health Organization (WHO) Leadership Development Fellow.

As an avid and experienced research fellow, he received an award of P280, 000 aimed at enhancing his leadership skills for better research in the field of phytochemistry and bioactivity profiles of plants used in traditional medicine.

During his stay in Geneva, Switzerland, Motlhanka joined the ministerial Botswana Delegation at the 63rd annual World Health Assembly. He has also attracted Research Funds from the European Union (Ôé¼49993.00) and Forest Conservation Botswana (P205,312.79). He has made over 40 oral and poster presentations in England, Florida, South Carolina, Malaysia, South Africa, Kenya, Finland, Germany, Switzerland, The Netherlands, Italy, Greece and Mexico.

He recently returned from Alabama, USA, where he gave a presentation on Conservation of Sengaparile (Harpagophytum procumbens).

Professor Motlhanka has published 21 research articles in journals of international repute. He has also supervised undergraduate and post graduate students both at the Botswana College of Agriculture and the University of Botswana.

In September 2011, Motlhanka was promoted to Associate Professor. He is also actively involved in community development initiatives.

Currently, he is fast tracking the establishment of a botanical garden in Seolwane for the conservation of threatened medicinal plants.

Whilst at BCA, Professor Motlhanka became the first Faculty member to establish the “Dr Daniel Motlhanka Prize” worth P1000 to be awarded to the best outstanding BSc Graduate from the faculty of Agriculture with a GPA of 4.7.

He works closely with traditional healers in Eastern Botswana to document pharmacological importance and the biochemistry of plants used in traditional medicine in Botswana.


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