Change the world


Melissa Landsberg’s master’s degree research focused on the relationship between an infant and its primary caregiver and the life of Ted Bundy, the serial killer, who murdered more than 30 young women.

Melissa’s two top awards at the recent 2019 Academic Awards function, were the Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Academic Excellence for the overall best postgraduate in Social Sciences and Humanities and the Nelson Mandela University Council Award for the best Master’s Degree by Dissertation: Social Sciences and Humanities.

She has obtained all her degrees cum laude and obtained 85% for her master’s degree in Psychology (Research) as well as receiving various bursaries and scholarships for academic excellence.

She hopes to publish her first journal article by the end of this year and start her PhD next year.

Currently, Melissa is a contract lecturer at the university, as she prefers to work behind the scenes doing research and developing new ideas in Psychology and specifically developmental psychopathology, personality psychology and criminal behaviour.

She says that her doctorate will definitely also focus on “serial killers … and a serial murderer that is still alive and presently living in South Africa”.

“One thing I have learned throughout my study of serial murderers and individuals with antisocial or narcissistic personality disturbances in general, is that you cannot identify them based on outward appearance – they blend in impeccably well with normal society.

“Unless you are able to closely track their behavioural patterns over time (especially in terms of their social responses and actions) you’ll miss them completely. That is the disturbing part.

She is also passionate about the exploring types of relationships or attachments that form between infants and their primary caregivers and how this bond influences a person’s personality development and perception of the world in the long run.

“You’ll be surprised at just how important the child-parent relationship is in terms of healthy psychological development!” Melissa says.

She has a soft spot for Neuropsychology, the study of the brain and its connection to behaviour. “The brain is a very powerful organ, its workings fascinate me.”

Melissa wants Psychology students who want to pursue their postgraduate studies to know that being accepted into the Honours or Master’s programme is a daunting task that is often met with initial rejection. 

“Don’t give up if you do not succeed the first time around. It took me seven years to finally obtain my Master’s degree! Remember, what you see as a rejection of something good, might just be a form of re-direction to something better! It’s a slow process, but quitting won’t speed it up either, always remember why you started in the first place!” she says

Melissa is also passionate about domestic animal rescue; rehabilitation and adoption, environmental conservation and gardening.

She has her own three adopted rescue dogs at home and also volunteers at animal shelters. She continuously advocates for and urges individuals to adopt their pets from non-profit organisations, such as the Animal Welfare Society, Save-a-Pet, Domestic Animal Care and PEAR (Port Elizabeth Animal Rescue).

“These dogs and cats need your love and care far more than breeders need your money! I also strive to educate individuals on the humane treatment of animals via social media.”


Contact information
Ms Elma de Koker
Internal Communication Practitioner
Tel: 041-504 2160