Central University of Technology, Free State will host the National Research Foundation Excellence Awards on 14 September 2017 at the Bloemfontein campus. We look forward to welcoming the delegates to the Free State and CUT.

NRF Logo_400

The National Research Foundation (NRF) celebrated research excellence through the bestowing of its NRF Awards on South Africa’s leading researchers. The awards ceremony was attended by Minister of Science and Technology, Mrs Naledi Pandor, who gave a keynote speech; former President Kgalema Motlante, and the former Minister of Science and Technology Mr Mosibudi Mangena. The science speaker at the awards was Dr Sanjaya Rajaram, a world-renowned scientist who developed 58% of all the wheat varieties that exist today.

The annual NRF Awards recognise and celebrate South African research excellence. The awards presented to researchers are in two categories, the ratings linked awards and special recognition awards. The rating linked awards are given to those researchers who have qualified for an A or P rating, as evaluated through the peer review based NRF rating system. The special recognition awards provide a platform to honour researchers for career achievements and contributions to knowledge creation and dissemination, as well as capacity development and transformation.

Speaking at the awards Minister Pandor said: “It is without question that countries that excel in terms of research output go on to become powerful players in the global economy and are therefore able to provide a better quality of life for their citizens. In celebrating research excellence as embodied by the distinguished researchers who are receiving the NRF Awards, we are celebrating a group of men and women who are necessary and crucial to our progress towards making South Africa a knowledge intensive economy. Scientific excellence put to the service of societal development is also necessity for our progress as a country.”

She added that: “Another necessary precondition for our progress to a knowledge economy is transformation and the expansion of opportunities so that more women and black people can enter the cohort of knowledge workers. As we move into the future we should not only look at the number of ratings awarded each year, but also at escalating the development of a diverse; in terms of age , gender and race; cohort of young researchers. The sustainable production of new knowledge that will make South African globally competitive, rest on our ability bring more people into the sciences and to have more diversity in our knowledge workforce.”

“The NRF Awards, which are this year themed Scientific Excellence for Development, are a celebration of our country’s research excellence and the impact such research has on our society. Our core purpose as a player in the National System of Innovation is to drive the transformation of South Africa into a knowledge society through supporting research excellence and human capacity development. We believe that scientific research must benefit society and to benefit society, it must embody excellence. Platforms such as the NRF Rating System provide only a small glimpse into the quality and impact of the research currently being undertaken in South Africa. To this end the NRF, through various interventions, is helping to ensure that the country’s citizens are equipped with the resources and skills to make South Africa’s knowledge economy a reality,” said Chief Executive Officer of the NRF, Dr Molapo Qhobela

Presented at the awards were nine Special Awards, four P-ratings and 27 A-ratings. The top three awards of the evening were presented as follows:

  • The Lifetime Achievement Award went to Professor Chabani Manganyi of the Centre for Advancement of Scholarship at the University of Pretoria, based on his extraordinary contributions, of international standard and impact, to the development of science in and for South Africa over an extended period of time, and for the manner in which his work has touched and shaped the lives and views of many South Africans.
  • The Champion of Research Capacity Development and Transformation at SA Higher Education Institutions Award was presented to Professor Jose Frantz from the Community and health Sciences at the University of Western Cape. Through his leadership he has been an important advocate for increased transformation of South Africa’s science community and landscape.
  • The Hamilton Naki Award is named after the largely self-taught medical technician who worked closely with such luminaries as Dr Christiaan Barnard. It recognises an individual for their outstanding efforts in the advancement of their career in science against all odds, and for achieving world-class research performance, despite considerable equity challenges. This award went to University of South Africa’s Professor Lerothodi Leeuw of the university’s School of interdisciplinary Research and Graduate Studies.

Other awards in the special awards category were presented as follows:

  • The Research Excellence Awards for Next Generation Researchers, presented to final year doctorate students showing outstanding performance, went to Mr. Sooraj Bainath and Dr Pragashnie Govender from the Catalysis and peptide Research unit and the School of health and Sciences at University of KwaZulu-Natal respectively.
  • Professor Nosipho Moloto of the University of the Witwatersrand’s School of Chemistry; and Professor Mark Engel from the Department of Medicine at the University of Cape Town, walked away with the Research Excellence Award for Early Career/Emerging Researchers, which recognises the exceptional research performance by NRF Thuthuka grant holders.
  • The award for Excellence in Science Engagement, which honours individuals in the research community at South African higher education institutions and science councils for their outstanding contributions to public engagement with science over a sustained period, went to Professor Lee Berger of the Evolution Studies Institute at the University of the Witwatersrand. The award encourages academics, while working in their fields, to also contribute substantially to enhancing the public’s awareness and engagement with science, technology and innovation.
  • The Excelleration Award for South African Research Institutions, which recognises the most improved research performance over recent years, went to the University of South Africa (UNISA). The institutional performance is measured against a selection of critical indicators.

The P-Rating, which is normally assigned to researchers under 35 years of age who have held a doctorate award or equivalent qualification for less than five years at the time of application. P-rated researchers are considered likely to become a future international leader in their respective field, on the basis of exceptional potential demonstrated in research performance and output during doctoral and/or early post-doctoral careers.

The P-Ratings were awarded to the following recipients:

  • Dr Katye Altieri of the University of Cape’s Energy Research Centre
  • Dr Shazrene Mohamed, who is as  Research fellow at the  South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO)
  • Dr Robyn Pickering from the Department of Geology Sciences at  University of Cape Town
  • Professor Grant Theron from Stellenbosch University’s  Department of Biomedical Sciences

The A-Rating is attained by researchers who are unequivocally acknowledged by their peers as leading international scholars in their respective fields for the high quality and impact of recent research outputs. The assessment of the quality and impact of researchers is done through the NRF rating system which is based on peer review. Acquiring an NRF rating generates considerable acknowledgement and respect for the individual researchers as well as their institutions.

The awardees are as follows:

A Ratings      
Professor Mark Cotton A-Rated for the first time Stellenbosch University Dept. of Paediatrics and Child health
Professor Erika de Wet A-Rated for the first time University of Pretoria Institute for international and comparative law in Africa
Professor Bruce Hewitson A-Rated for the first time University of Cape Town Dept. of environmental and geographical science
Professor Florian Luca A-Rated for the first time University of the Witwatersrand School of Mathematics
Professor Lenore Manderson A-Rated for the first time University of the Witwatersrand Dept. Of public health
Professor Bongani Mayosi A-Rated for the first time University of Cape Town Dept. of Medicine
Professor Achille Mbembe A-Rated for the first time University of the Witwatersrand Wits Institute of Social Economic research
Professor Lynn Morris P-Rated Researchers: A-Rated for the first time National health laboratory service National Institute for Communicable Diseases
Professor Gerald Nurick A-Rated for the first time University of Cape Town Dept. of Mechanical Engineering
Professor Craig Packer A-Rated for the first time University of KwaZulu-Natal School of Life Sciences
Professor Chris Reason A-Rated for the first time University of Cape Town Dept. of Oceanography
Professor Willen Visser A-Rated for the first time Stellenbosch University Dept. of Mathematical Science
Professor Paul van Helden A-Rated for the first time Stellenbosch University Dept. of Biomedical Sciences
Professor Nigel Bennett A-Rated for the second time University of Pretoria Dept. of Zoology and Entomology
Professor David Chidester A-Rated for the second time University of Cape Town Dept. of Religious Studies
Professor Pedro Crous A-Rated for the second time University of Pretoria Dept. of Microbiology and Plant Pathology
Professor Michael feast P-Rated Researchers: A-Rated for the second time South African Astronomical Observatory Astronomer
Professor Charles Feldman A-Rated for the first time University of the Witwatersrand Dept. of Internal Medicine
Professor Valerie Mizrahi A-Rated for the second time University of Cape Town Institute of Infectious Disease and Molecular Medicine
Professor Claire Penn A-Rated for the second time University of the Witwatersrand School of Human and Community Development
Professor Xiaohua Xia A-Rated for the second time University of Pretoria Dept. of Electronic and Computer Engineering
Professor Leonard Barbour A-Rated for the third time Stellenbosch University Dept. Chemistry and Polymer Sciences
Professor Timothy Noakes A-Rated for the third time University of Cape Town Dept. of Human Biology
Professor Helment Prodinger A-Rated for the third time Stellenbosch University Dept. of Mathematical Sciences
Professor David Lewis-Williams A-Rated for the third time University of the Witwatersrand Rock Arts Research Institute
Professor Nicolar Beukes A-Rated for the third time University of Johannesburg Dept. of Geology
Professor Norman Owen-Smith A-Rated for the third time University of the Witwatersrand School of Animal, Plant and Environment Sciences

Released by the National Research Foundation on 1 September 2017

Uploaded: 07 September 2017

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