Professor Vimolan Mudaly, Deputy-Academic Leader for Mathematics and Technology Education, presented his inaugural lecture detailing his journey as a researcher from back when he was a fourth-year undergraduate student through to his successful development of the Iterative Visualisation Thinking Cycle (IVTC) published in 2021.
Mudaly says IVTC’s evolution is in fact a historical account of his evolution as a researcher – when challenged in an English Usage class as an undergraduate student, he responded with a 21-page mini thesis about the significance of mathematics education. The paper drew on the spatial aspects of creation and how mathematics could explain much of the unknowns around us.
The IVTC will appear as a theoretical framework for visualisation research later this year (2022) in the opening chapter of a book titled: Visualisation and Epistemological Access to Mathematics Education in Southern Africa as a theoretical framework for visualization research.
Mudaly has been at UKZN since early 2003. He joined the institution after serving as an examiner and Chief Maker of the National Senior Certificate examinations, as well as the KZN Chairperson of the Association of Mathematics Educators South Africa.
He attained his undergraduate degree in Mathematics and Science Education at the former University of Durban-Westville (now UKZN) and his Honour’s in Education from the University of South Africa U(NISA). He was awarded a Master of Education cum laude and subsequently obtained a doctoral degree from UKZN.
Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Head of the College of Humanities, Professor Nhlanhla Mkhize welcomed guests, colleagues, and friends of UKZN to the lecture on behalf of the Vice-Chancellor and Principal. He said inaugural lectures provide official recognition of an individual’s promotion to full professor and showcase the exciting and ground-breaking research and teaching being carried out at UKZN to a wider audience.
Mudaly began his lecture by publicly acknowledging all those who contributed to his success, thanking his late parents and brother; wife and children; as well as colleagues both at UKZN and beyond who have had a great impact on his Möbius trip.
Explaining his lecture title, he said the Möbius strip, which is a one-sided surface, is cleverly used to illustrate how the model evolved over time, and how as a researcher, he has travelled through this Möbius loop, becoming stronger and more confident in the process.
‘The significance of the Mobius strip in my research trajectory is that I started off at a point, young, eager, and uncertain about what I wanted to do. Here I am today, researching in the same field but stronger, confident, and recognised internationally for the work that I am doing,’ he said.
Mudaly has made a substantive and significant contribution through a cogent body of work in both visualisation and active learning in mathematics, and this is attested to by his authorship of more than 58 peer-reviewed journal articles, book chapters and conference proceedings. He has published in several international and high impact journals, such as The Montana Mathematics Enthusiast.
In 2016, he was ranked among the Top 30 Prolific Researchers in UKZN and received accolades for having achieved the first position in the School of Education. His commitment to developing and enhancing scholarship in the field is evident by the graduation of more than 36 PhD and master’s students under his supervision.
Mudaly’s work has a significant and far-reaching impact on society. He was appointed to the South African Government Expert team to report on the effects of COVID-19 on education by the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME), the Government Technical Advisory Centre (GTAC) and the National Research Foundation (NRF). He has served as the lead author of the Education Chapter of the Country Report on COVID-19.
‘I began this daunting task eons ago as a baby in the field. I have stood on the shoulders of so many giants and I am glad that I completed this Möbius trip, on a strip that has no start and no end. Here I am, at the threshold of my next trip. This is a never-ending journey – imagining, thinking, theorising, and feeling the excitement of reading and writing,’ concluded Mudaly.