Zakiena has obtained an MSc in Mathematical Sciences from the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) and UCT. Her background is in mathematics, physics, and recently machine learning.

She currently combines these disciplines in her Ph.D. which focuses on the exchange of carbon and heat flux which occurs between the atmosphere and the upper ocean. In particular, her research tries to elucidate the impact/relationship of atmospheric forcing on the mixed layer on a sub-grid scale level through numerical modelling and Machine Learning (ML). The domain of interest being the Southern Ocean (SO) as it is particularly important in driving large-scale heat and CO2 uptake.