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National Science and Technology Forum (NSTF)

Role Models – Professionals

Professor Shabir Madhi

For his leadership in research on vaccines against life-threatening diseases in Africa and globally, and he has been at the cutting edge of research in this area since 1997.

This year, the Lifetime Award went to Professor Shabir Madhi, Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences; and Professor: Vaccinology of the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits). He is also Director of the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) Vaccine and Infectious Diseases Analytics Research Unit (Wits-VIDA); and Co-Director: African Leadership in Vaccinology Expertise, Wits. He won the award for his leadership in research on vaccines against life-threatening diseases in Africa and globally, and he has been at the cutting edge of research in this area since 1997.

Professor Marianne Vanderschuren

For her role in improving the quality of life of vulnerable road users using Smart Mobility through research solutions based on the basic sciences.

The theme for the evening was inspired by the United Nations international theme for 2022: Basic Sciences for Sustainable Development. The Special Theme Award was made to Professor Marianne Vanderschuren of the University of Cape Town (UCT) who has made an outstanding contribution to SET and innovation in this area. She played an important role in improving the quality of life of vulnerable road users using Smart Mobility through research solutions based on the basic sciences.

Outlook Foundation

For organising  and rolling out empowerment activities for young people from previously disadvantaged groups through motivational talks, career guidance on SET, mathematics and innovation fields, coaching and mentoring.

The winner of the 2020/2021 for Non-Governmental Organisation Award was won by Outlook Foundation for organising and rolling out empowerment activities to the youth in disadvantaged areas where resources are poor and young people have limited exposure to future or available opportunities and development programmes.
Outlook Foundation is a volunteer-led non-profit organisation (NPO) that focuses on promoting careers and opportunities in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields. The organisation is defined by its community of professionals, all with backgrounds in STEM, and all passionate about the development of young people.

Prof Caroline  Ödman

For reshaping how science is communicated to the general public and in particular research into building a scientific vocabulary in African languages.

The winner of the 2020/2021 for Communication Award was won by Prof Carolina Ödman from the Inter-University Institute for Data Intensive Astronomy at the University of the Western Cape (UWC) won for her outstanding promotion of academic research and teaching in science for development. She made significant contributions to the multi-disciplinary research into building a scientific vocabulary in African languages at UWC. Since her appointment in 2018, she has carried out a broad, evolving range of communications activities, promoting the Institute’s research, engaging with the media, and offering leadership in public forums on issues that affect the public.

ROC Water Technologies

For  the the research and development of processing of liquid and solid wastes from the mining, power station and fertilizer industries to recover water of drinking quality and saleable products 

(Sponsored by the National Intellectual Property Management Office (NIPMO) since 2019)

The winner of the 2022/2021 Innovation Award: SMME was ROC Water Technologies, funded by THRIP (Department of Trade, Industry and Competition), the Water Research Commission and the Innovation Hub, with support from postgraduate students at the University of Limpopo, Tshwane University of Technology and the University of Pretoria. They developed a series of technologies that allow the processing of liquid and solid wastes from the mining, power station and fertiliser industries to recover water of drinking quality and saleable products.

It has also led to the development of saleable products such as pigment and aluminium sulphate, sodium carbonate, calcium carbonate and sulphur.

The Biomimicry Diagnostic Verification Controls team

For using biomimicry to verify diagnostic tests for COVID-19 and other infectious diseases.

The Biomimicry Diagnostic Verification Controls team from the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), represented by Professor Bavesh Kana, won the 2020/2021 Innovation Award: Corporate Organisation for their use of biomimicry to verify the accuracy of diagnostic tests for Covid-19 and other infectious diseases.

The team’s work significantly reduced the risk burden on testers and improved test verification procedures, enabling the verification of Covid-19 diagnostics in South Africa, and is now being deployed in 14 other countries.

The School of Geosciences

For developing techniques to use legacy data to explore for mineral resources, support safe and efficient mining, and assess and mitigate geohazards.

The winner of the 2020/2021 for Data for Research Award was won by The School of Geosciences at Wits in recognition for the techniques developed to use legacy data to explore for mineral resources, to support safe and efficient mining, and to assess and mitigate geohazards. Because geological, geophysical and geochemical data is expensive to collect, but essential to the wellbeing of South African mining, the methods developed make a significant difference to data collection, analysis and geohazard mapping. The team leaders of this project are Professors Raymond Durrheim, Musa Manzi and Glen Nwaila.

Professor Paul Oberholster

For his contribution to water resource management in SA over the last 5 years with special reference to the field of biological passive wastewater treatment.

(Sponsored by the WRC since 2017) The winner of the 2020/2021 for NSTF-Water Research Commission (WRC) Award was won by Professor Paul Oberholster from the University of the Free State to recognise his scientific contribution to water resource management in South Africa over the past 10 years, with special reference to the field of biological passive wastewater treatment. His research focuses on using algae to treat acid mine drainage and domestic wastewater to facilitate the effective removal of pollutants.

Professor Michael Claeys

For his lifework on the development of capacity and research capacity in catalysis which lies at the heart of 90% of production processes for chemicals.

Sponsored by Eskom since 2003

The winner of the 2020/2021 for Engineering Research Capacity Development Award is Professor Michael Claeys from UCT was given this Award for his work in catalysis. Catalysis significantly shapes modern society and lies at the heart of 90% of production processes for chemicals, fuels and pharmaceuticals. Claeys focuses on understanding catalyst sustainability and improvements.

Professor Philiswa Nosizo Nomngongo

For her training, nurturing and mentoring students through her research focused on analytical environmental chemistry of organic and inorganic pollutants in environmental, biological and other matrices.

Sponsored by Eskom since 2003

The winner of the 2020/2021 for Engineering Research Capacity Development Award is Professor Philiswa Nosizo Nomngongo leads the analytical environmental chemistry group in the department of applied chemistry at the University of Johannesburg. Her research focuses on organic and inorganic pollutants in environmental, biological and other matrices. She won the Award for ensuring that the environment and water are safe for a sustainable future.

Professor Stephanie Burton

For her work during her nine-year tenure (two terms) as DVC: Research and Postgraduate Education at UP. She has made significant contributions to research development at the university and across SA.

The winner of the 2020/2021 for Management Award is Professor Stephanie Burton for her work at the University of Pretoria (UP).

After a successful career as an academic, she became the deputy vice-chancellor (Research and Postgraduate Education) at UP, and over nine years she has been responsible for the management of all aspects of strategic research development, creating a significant increase in the university’s research productivity and national and international standing.

Dr Boitumelo Innocent Ramatsetse

For designing and developing an innovative beneficiation solution called “Reconfigurable Vibrating Screen” (RVS) for separating mineral particles according to size and volumes as demanded by customers in the mining and mineral processing industries.

Prize sponsor: proSET (Professionals in SET), a sector of the NSTF representing professional bodies and learned societies.

The winner of the 2020/2021 TW Kambule-NSTF Award Emerging Researcher is Dr Boitumelo Innocent Ramatsetse is Lecturer and Researcher: Engineering Graphics and Design, Educational Information and Engineering Technology, Wits. He received the Award for designing and developing an innovative beneficiation solution called “Reconfigurable Vibrating Screen” (RVS) for separating mineral particles according to size and volumes as demanded by customers in the mining and mineral processing industries.

Prof Sheetal Silal

For her contribution through combining knowledge from biology, clinical medicine, public health and economics to develop mathematical disease models to help shape health policy and improve the health of the people.

Prize sponsor: proSET (Professionals in SET), a sector of the NSTF representing professional bodies and learned societies.

The winner of the 2020/2021 TW Kambule-NSTF Award Emerging Researcher is Prof Sheetal Silal is Associate Professor: Department of Statistical Sciences, University of Cape Town (UCT); and Director: Modelling and Simulation Hub, Africa, Faculty of Science, UCT; and Honorary Visiting Research Fellow: Oxford University, UK. She received the Award for her contribution through combining knowledge from biology, clinical medicine, public health and economics to develop mathematical disease models to help shape health policy and improve the health of the people.

Professor Bruce Mellado

For For his contribution in SA through the management of the SA contribution to the Large Hadron Electron Collider at the CERN facility, the oversight of the development and production of a unique 16-layer electronics circuit board and numerous other contributions in physics and artificial intelligence.

The winner of the 2020/2021 TW Kambule-NSTF Award Researcher is Professor Bruce Mellado from the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) won the award for his contributions to the discovery of the Higgs boson with the Large Hadron Electron Collider at the CERN facility, and the application of artificial intelligence (AI) in the management of the Covid-19 pandemic. His other contributions include the oversight of the development and production of a unique 16-layer electronics circuit board; and numerous ones in physics and AI.

Prof Raymond Durrheim

For the application of his expertise in geophysics and seismology to learn how the Earth works, where to find ore bodies and energy resources, to make mining safer, and how to mitigate the risks of earthquakes.

The winner of the 2020/2021 Lifetime Awards is Prof Raymond Durrheim, Chair of the Department of Science and Innovation/National Research Foundation South African Research Chairs Initiative (SARChI) in Exploration, Earthquake and Mining Seismology, School of Geosciences, University of the Witwatersrand. 

Previous Professional Role Model Talks 

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