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National Science and Technology Forum (NSTF)

Role Models – Professionals

Prof Andrew Thatcher

For his work on extending our understanding of Human Factors Ergonomics or “green ergonomics” to consider the entire Earth system, which has included theoretical developments, empirical investigations, and systematic reviews of the impact of these activities leading to mutually supportive human-natural environment systems.

This award is sponsored by the Technology Innovation Agency (TIA) and gives recognition to individuals who have contributed towards achieving biodiversity conservation, environmental sustainability and a greener economy over the last five to 10 years. For his work on extending our understanding of Human Factors Ergonomics or “green ergonomics” to consider the entire Earth system, this award was won by Prof Andrew Thatcher, a Professor in the Psychology Department, School of Human and Community Development at Wits.

The Freshwater

Biodiversity

Information

System (FBIS) team

For the development of a powerful, open-access system for hosting, analysing and serving freshwater biodiversity data for South Africa, in order to facilitate freshwater decision-making.

The Data for Research Award was made to the Freshwater Biodiversity Information System (FBIS) team, Freshwater Research Centre (FRC) and Kartoza. Dr Helen Dallas is Executive Director: FRC; and team leader: FBIS. They were recognised for their ground-breaking work in the development of a powerful, open-access system for hosting, analysing and serving freshwater biodiversity data for South Africa, in order to facilitate freshwater decision-making.

The Centre for Water Resources Research

For providing a centre of excellence for cutting edge applied and interdisciplinary research and postgraduate training in water resources-related research and capacity building

Sponsored by the WRC since 2017, theNSTF-Water Research Commission (WRC) Award recognises an individual or an organisation for sustainable water management, knowledge generation and solutions over the last five to 10 years. This year, the award was made to the Centre for Water Resources Research at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) for providing a centre of excellence for cutting edge applied and interdisciplinary research and postgraduate training in water resources-related research and capacity building. 

Prof Salome Maswime

For her contribution through pioneering the field of Global Surgery in Africa as part of a drive for greater equity, and access to, much-needed surgical care

Prof Salome Maswime, an obstetrician, gynaecologist and head of Global Surgery in the Department of Medicine at the University of Cape Town (UCT) won the NSTF-SAMRC Clinician-Scientist Award (sponsored by the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC)) for her contribution through pioneering the field of Global Surgery in Africa as part of a drive for greater equity, and access to, much-needed surgical care. She wants to find measures to reduce the maternal mortality from caesarean sections in SA and to see the African community as a whole receive safe and timely surgical care, especially pregnant women. 

Prof Paxie Chirwa

For his contribution, centred on people, to future forestry development in South Africa and training future foresters

Prof Paxie W Chirwa, Chair and Director: Forest Postgraduate Programme, University of Pretoria (UP) was awarded the 2023 NSTF-Sout32 Management Award for his contribution, centred on people, to future forestry development in South Africa and training future foresters. His work is aimed at recognising the importance of communities in proximity to the forest resource in sustainable forest management and use.

 

Prof Nosipho Moloto

For her contribution to capacity building through finding simple synthetic methods 

Prof Nosipho Moloto, an inorganic chemistry professor, University of the Witwatersrand, is the DSI/NRF/Nedbank SARChI Chair in Energy Materials. She won for her contribution to capacity building through finding simple synthetic methods for semiconductor nanocrystals that can be used as essential components in the development of affordable solutions for the production of clean water, renewable and clean energy, rapid diagnostics of diseases and fast and easy to operate sensors.



Prof Onisimo Mutanga

For developing research capacity through the use of remote sensing techniques to support land use management 

Prof Onisimo Mutanga, Professor: Remote Sensing, University of KwaZulu-Natal; and DSI/NRF/Nedbank SARChI Chair in Land Use Planning and Management won for developing research capacity through the use of remote sensing techniques to support land use management focusing on the development of the science and the application of these techniques for terrestrial ecosystems.

Prof Novel N Chegou

For a life’s work which has focused mainly on the immunology of tuberculosis.

Prof Novel N Chegou, Professor: Division of Molecular Biology and Human Genetics, Department of Biomedical Sciences, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences at Stellenbosch University was awarded for a life’s work which has focused mainly on the immunology of tuberculosis. He developed new tools for the management of the illness and conducted research on new tests that can assist in the rapid diagnosis of tuberculosis. 

Prof Usisipho Feleni

For her contribution in electrochemistry.

Prof Usisipho Feleni, Associate Professor and Thematic Area Leader: Applied Electrochemistry, Institute for Nanotechnology and Water Sustainability at the University of South Africa is a co-recipient of the 2023 Award for her contribution in electrochemistry, with emphasis on electro-analytical sensors and biosensors that comprise new chalcogenide-based quantum dot materials, nanoparticles, nanorods and nanocomposites. These materials contain unique and specific features for use in electrochemical sensing and signalling of diseases such as HIV, TB and cancer, as well as monitoring water contamination. 

Dr Daniel W Hart

For his research that attempts to utilise concepts from evolutionary biology to address biological questions.

Dr Daniel W Hart, Senior Research Fellow: Zoology and Entomology Dept, Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, at the University of Pretoria (UP) is a co-recipient of the 2023 Award. He received it for his research that attempts to utilise concepts from evolutionary biology to address biological questions of health, biological, social and economic relevance to humans. His research focuses on using knowledge of evolutionary biology of mammals to improve treatments of human medical conditions and to predict future consequences of climate change.

Dr Philemon Mjwara – Director-General: Department of Science and Innovation (DSI)

For his significant contribution to the South African National System of Innovation and for the role he played in building strong relations between the DSI (as DST and later as DSI) and the NSTF.

Dr Philemon Mjwara, Director-General: Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) was presented with the Ukhozi Award for an essential contribution to STI in South Africa. He played a significant role in building strong relations between the DSI (as DST and later as DSI) and the NSTF over many years. The Award was made in celebration of the 25th anniversary of the NSTF Awards. ‘Ukhozi’ means ‘eagle’ in isiZulu, and here especially refers to the Black Eagle, or Verreaux’s Eagle. This eagle is indigenous to South Africa and the continent and symbolises flying high and seeing the bigger picture.

Prof Jonathan Jansen

For a distinguished contribution to the advancement of education scholarship through advanced research and publication, scholarly teaching, innovative university management especially in times of racial disharmony, science leadership, school improvement, educational innovation, capacity development, public engagement, and science advocacy.

Prof Jonathan Jansen, Distinguished Professor: Education, Stellenbosch University (SU); and President: Academy of Science of South Africa was awarded the NSTF-South32 Lifetime Award for a distinguished contribution to the advancement of education scholarship through advanced research and publication, scholarly teaching, innovative university management especially in times of racial disharmony, science leadership, school improvement, educational innovation, capacity development, public engagement, and science advocacy.

Vuwani Science Resource Centre, Coordinator: Dr Nnditshedzeni Eric Maluta

For the substantial impact the Centre makes on public awareness of science, engineering and technology (SET)

This Award recognises a communicator who has made a substantial impact on public awareness of SET. It was awarded to Dr Nnditshedzeni Eric Maluta, coordinator at the Vuwani Science Resource Centre, in 2022. He was instrumental in developing the Centre in the Vhembe district that focuses on education outreach programmes to previously disadvantaged people. 

CodeMakers, Executive

Director: Dr Justin Yarrow

For his conception and implementation of SuperScientists, living scientists drawn as superheroes who educate and inspire young people across SA.

The Award is made for any non-governmental organisation which has made an outstanding contribution to science, engineering and technology (SET) and innovation in South Africa over the last 5 to 10 years. CodeMakers started in 2015 as an NGO to bring the hands-on approach to science education and has grown in reach and impact ever since. 

Network for Genomics Surveillance in South Africa (NGS-SA)

For their ground-breaking work with SARS-CoV-2

A team of scientists at the Network for Genomics Surveillance in South Africa (NGS-SA) won the 2022 Data for Research Award for their ground-breaking work with SARS-CoV-2. The Co-Founders of NGS-SA are Dr Jinal Bhiman, Scientific Lead: Global Immunology and Immune Sequencing for Epidemic Response South Africa (GIISER-SA); and Prof Tulio de Oliveira, Professor: Bioinformatics, School for Data Science and Computational Thinking, Stellenbosch University (SU). The team consists of virologists, scientists, bioinformaticians and clinicians and is responsible for the discovery of both the Beta and Omicron variants of the virus. 

Mining Positron

Emission Tomography

(MinPET)

For the online sensor-based detection process that draws on nuclear and medical technology to find diamonds inside kimberlite rock

The Mining Positron Emission Tomography (MinPET) project draws on nuclear and medical technology to find diamonds inside kimberlite rock, and is an online sensor-based detection process. Professor Simon Connell’s participation (for South Africa) in the ATLAS Experiment at CERN led to this innovation. The team, under leadership of Prof Connell; and the Department of Mechanical Engineering Science, Faculty of Engineering and Built Environment, University of Johannesburg (UJ) won the Innovation Award: Corporate Organisations in 2022.  

Thermtron Scientific CC, Sponsor & Manager: Dr Jacobus (Kokkie) Swanepoel

For transitioning multiple mineral-processing and green technologies through all innovation stages, from laboratory through to pilots to commercially viable projects

Award sponsor: National Intellectual Property Management Office (NIPMO) since 2019

Thermtron Scientific CC, with Sponsor and Manager Dr Jacobus (Kokkie) Swanepoel, won the Innovation Award for a Small, Medium and Micro Enterprise (SMME) in 2022. Over the past 10 years, Dr Swanepoel and Thermtron Scientific CC have transitioned multiple mineral-processing and green technologies through all innovation stages, from laboratory through to pilots to commercially viable projects. The work done by this SMME has played a significant role in generating revenue and opportunities for the South African economy.

 

Prof Evans Chirwa

For introducing the use of biological analogues in advanced water treatment and water recovery with applications in metal-halide heterogeneous photocatalysis in South Africa

Prof Evans Chirwa, Professor and Rand Water Research Chair: Water Utilisation at the Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Pretoria, received the 2022 NSTF-Water Research Commission Award for introducing the use of biological analogues in advanced water treatment and water recovery with applications in metal-halide heterogeneous photocatalysis in South Africa. His latest contribution was in the treatment of organic pollutants using synthesised photocatalytic nanomaterials.

Prof Guy Midgley

For his contribution to the understanding of the risks of climate change to endemic biodiversity and ecosystems, both nationally and globally

Prof Guy Midgley, Head of the Global Change Biology Group at Stellenbosch University received the 2022 NSTF-South32 Green Economy Award for his contribution over two decades to the understanding of the risks of climate change to endemic biodiversity and ecosystems, both nationally and globally. He developed response options through modelling as well as critical field and controlled environment trials; and is committed to communicate these issues to the public. 

Dr Boitumelo Semete-

Makokotlela

For being pivotal in establishing the Innovation Hub’s Biotech Incubator

Dr Boitumelo Semete-Makokotlela, Chief Executive Officer of the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA), won the NSTF Management Award for being pivotal in establishing the Innovation Hub’s Biotech Incubator. She was instrumental in authorising a number of COVID-19 diagnostic tests, vaccines and therapies to ensure the regulator was an enabler during the pandemic.

Prof Sehliselo Ndlovu

For her work as a hydrometallurgical engineer, focused on ensuring a sustainable future supply of metals through improved processes and capacity

Professor Sehliselo Ndlovu, Professor of Metallurgical and Materials Engineering at the University of the Witwatersrand received the  NSTF-South32 Engineering Research Capacity Development Award for her work as a hydrometallurgical engineer, focused on ensuring a sustainable future supply of metals through improved processes and capacity.

Prof Wellington Didibhuku

Thwala

For his work in the area of sustainable construction management, digitalisation, design error containment and leadership within the built environment

Professor Wellington Didibhuku Thwala. Research Professor: Construction Project Management and Leadership, Department of Civil Engineering, College of Science, Engineering and Technology at the University of South Africa (UNISA) received the award for his work in the area of sustainable construction management, digitalisation, design error containment and leadership within the built environment.

Prof Tamiru Abiye

For his dedication to water science and his focus on building research capacity and solving community problems to attain sustainable development in South Africa.

Prof Abiye, Professor of Hydrogeology at the University of the Witwatersrand, received the 2022 TW Kambule-NSTF Researcher Award for his dedication to water science and his focus on building research capacity and solving community problems to attain sustainable development in South Africa. Abiye’s background as a person from a rural water-stressed area gives him a unique perspective on humanity’s most pressing problem – securing water in the face of population, industrial, climate change and pandemic pressures.

Dr Wynand Goosen

For his leadership role in South African research on the surveillance of zoonotic tuberculosis in domestic cattle and wild animals.

Dr Wynand Goosen, Wellcome Trust Lecturer in the Animal Tuberculosis Research Group at Stellenbosch University, won the TW Kambule-NSTF Award for Emerging Researcher for his leadership role in South African research on the surveillance of zoonotic tuberculosis in domestic cattle and wild animals.  Zoonotic pathogens are potential sources of infections in susceptible people in rural areas.

Dr Banothile Makhubela

For research into nano- and organometallic-catalysis directed towards green and sustainable chemical processes

Dr Banothile Makhubela, Senior Lecturer and Director of the Research Centre for Synthesis and Catalysis at the University of Johannesburg, won the TW Kambule-NSTF Award for Emerging Researcher for research into nano- and organometallic-catalysis directed towards green and sustainable chemical processes, Dr Makhubela’s research applies such catalysts to converting waste materials like lignocellulose and a greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide (CO2), into sustainable chemicals and fuels.

Prof 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.

Prof 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.

Prof 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.

Prof 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.

Prof 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.

Prof 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.

Prof 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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