National Science and Technology Forum (NSTF)

Current Winners


The NSTF-South32 Awards are for outstanding contributions of teams, organisations and individuals to science, engineering, technology (SET) and innovation in South Africa.

The announcement of the NSTF-South32 Awards winners took place at the Awards Gala Dinners on 11 July 2024

The patron of the Awards, the Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, Dr Blade Nzimande was invited to preside over the presentation of the awards. A hybrid live-broadcast from two cities (Johannesburg and Cape Town) was planned for the Awards Gala Event took place on 11 July 2024. All finalists together with the sponsors were in attendance. The rest of the community watched the live-streamed event via the NSTF YouTube platform. 

Prof Ben-Erik van Wyk – Chair: Department of Science and Innovation (DSI)/National Research Foundation (NRF) South African Research Chairs Initiative (SARChI) in Indigenous Plant Use, University of Johannesburg (UJ )

For his contribution as a botanist and an authority on traditional and commercial uses of plants, with numerous books and publications covering all or most of the socially relevant and commercialised plant species of the world.

Prize sponsor: proSET (Professionals in SET), a sector of the NSTF representing more than 45 professional societies

Prof Patience Mthunzi-Kufa – Research Group Head: Biophotonics; Manager: Photonics Centre, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR); Professor Extraordinarius: University of South Africa (UNISA)

For her research on the construction and application of photonics-based diagnostic devices for point-of-care detection of HIV-1, TB, COVID-19, as well as non-communicable diseases in order to achieve early detection and to facilitate timely treatment.

Prize sponsor: South African Young Academy of Science (SAYAS)

Dr Tiisetso E Lephoto  Lecturer and Principal Researcher: School of Molecular and Cell Biology, Faculty of Science, University of the Witwatersrand (Wits)

For her investigation of biological control agents (natural enemies for pests) which can help solve identified challenges, and the identification of new insect-killing microscopic worms called entomopathogenic nematodes, which have the potential to infect and kill problematic soil-dwelling insects in farms within 24-48 hours upon invasion.


Prof Tebogo Mashifana – Associate Professor and Head of Department (Dept): Chemical Engineering Technology, University of Johannesburg

For her research which focuses on innovative circular economy principles to remediate the environmental impact caused by wastewater and solid wastes and the conversion of such wastes generated by different industries, which pollute our environment, contaminate water, soil and the air, into new products that can be used for various applications.

Prof Bernard Slippers – Professor: Dept of Biochemistry, Genetics and Microbiology; Director: Tree Protection Co-operative Programme; Director: Forestry and Agricultural Biotechnology Institute (FABI), University of Pretoria (UP); Director: Innovation Africa @UP

For his leadership and participation in several substantive research programmes and his role in the foundation of the Future Africa Institute, the Africa Science Leadership Programme and Innovation Africa @UP, and in the global young academy movement and the Global Young Academy and SAYAS.

Sponsor: Eskom since 2003

Dr Robin Drennan received award on behalf of Prof Claudia Polese – Associate Professor: Aerospace Manufacturing and Design; Head: Aeronautical Engineering Stream; Deputy Director: African Research Universities Alliance Centre of Excellence in Materials, Energy and Nanotechnology; Advisory Aerospace Research Director: National Aerospace Centre, Wits

For her leadership of several strategic South African initiatives to strengthen the research in the area of advanced manufacturing technologies and primarily the cutting-edge Laser Shock Peening (LSP) process, furthering substantial infrastructural and human capital development.


Prof Emmanuel Iwuoha – Professor: Chemistry, University of the Western Cape (UWC); DSI/NRF SARChI Chair for NanoElectrochemistry and Sensor Technology; Director: SensorLab, UWC

For his exploitation of the capacity of the SensorLab at UWC for research on disease diagnostic sensor devices, lithium-ion battery/supercapacitors and solar cell technology to achieve a significant throughput of researchers under his guidance for applications in solar cells and gas sensing.

Sponsor: WRC since 2017

Prof Timothy Dube – Director: Institute for Water Studies, UWC; Adjunct Professor: United Nations University, Flores, Germany

For his pioneering and innovative methods using satellite technology merged with machine learning (AI) to monitor water resources in semi-arid regions, enhancing ecological sustainability and community resilience.

Sponsor: South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC)

Dr June Fabian – Director: Wits Donald Gordon Medical Research Institute; Post-doctoral Researcher; Co-Lead: Clinical Research Platform: SAMRC/Wits Rural Public Health and Health Transitions Research Unit; Lecturer: Dept of Internal Medicine, School of Clinical Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, Wits

For her leadership and coordination of the multi-country and multi-dimensional ARK project, which challenged outdated, biased, and unscientific diagnostic tools and developed new, evidence-grounded methodologies to achieve greater impact in the early detection and management of chronic kidney disease.

Sponsor: Technology Innovation Agency (TIA)

Prof Linda Godfrey Manager: Circular Innovation SA, Principal Scientist: Circular Economy, CSIR; Extraordinary Professor: Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, North-West University (NWU)

For her leading role in shaping and driving SA’s waste and circular economy science, technology and innovation agendas, encompassing the development and implementation of the Waste Research, Development and Innovation Roadmap for the DSI and having been instrumental in shaping strategic local and international waste and circular economy initiatives.

NEW Sponsorship: Science Diplomacy Capital for Africa initiative (SDCfA)

Prof Irvy (Igle) Gledhill – Visiting Adjunct Professor: School of Mechanical, Industrial and Aeronautical Engineering, Wits

For her work to build vibrant, supportive environments in which women and men as scientists can make real contributions, leading the international working group on Women in Physics and her leadership within the Global Gender Gap Project and the convening of African and South African scientists to engage with wicked problems.

uLwazi Node, South African Environmental Observation Network (SAEON) Open Data Platform, NRF – Mr Leo Chiloane, Manager

For the management of a metadata repository that facilitates the FAIR publication, discovery, dissemination, and preservation of earth observation and environmental data in SA, certified as a trusted repository by the CoreTrustSeal in 2023.

Nuclear Medicine Research Infrastructure (NuMeRi) NPC  – Prof Mike Sathekge, Chief Executive Officer and President

For a facility which represents a paradigm shift in its field, offering a one-stop-shop for medical imaging and theragnostics dedicated to drug development and clinical research, which provides consolidated expertise in nuclear technologies, in medicine and the biosciences, creating significant research, development and innovation capacity in SA.

Sponsor: National Intellectual Property Management Office (NIPMO) since 2019

Jonker Sailplanes (Pty) Ltd– Co-Founder, Shareholder and Director: Prof Attie Jonker, School of Mechanical Engineering, NWU

For their design, manufacture, further development of, and for building on their success celebrated for the first time 11 years ago, and for their export success of internationally competitive sailplanes.

Prof Jennifer Fitchett – Professor: Physical Geography, Wits

For her involvement in both communicating her own science to the public and in training early career researchers in science communication, notably through a Science Blog, articles in The Conversation and podcasts.

OLICO Maths Education – Director: Maths Education, Dr Lynn Bowie

For their project to make sense of mathematics through high quality programmes and resources for thousands of South African school children from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Inter-University Institute for Data Intensive Astronomy (IDIA) – a partnership of the Universities of Cape Town (UCT), UWC, and UP – Prof Patrick Woudt, Interim Director: Dept of Astronomy, UCT

For their cutting-edge infrastructure and its management which facilitates global collaboration in astronomy empowering researchers to analyse complex SET data with unprecedented efficiency.

NSTF-South32 Awards


The NSTF welcomes collaboration with other organisations, such as those they have been in partnerships with for many years:

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