Professor George Ellis, Emeritus Distinguished Professor at UCT, took top honours in the National Science and Technology Forum's (NSTF) award to "An Individual over a Lifetime" for his contribution to thinking in cosmology, specialising in general relativity theory.
In its citation, the NSTF noted that Ellis's first book, The Large Scale Structure of Space-Time, was written with Stephen Hawking during the start of his career based at St John's College, Cambridge, from 1962 to 1973 and was regarded as a standard work.
When he returned to UCT as head of department of applied mathematics, he established a research group on cosmology and relativity that formed the base for his life work.
The citation continued: "The understanding of the universe and our relationships to it is fundamental to our self-knowledge. It informs and is informed by astronomical observances and our attempt to explore space. His more recent investigations question whether or not there was ever a start to the universe and indeed if there is only one or many.
"He has made contributions in the realm of thinking around religion and science, in particular, the functioning of the human mind and how humans relate to the cosmos. His belief is that ethics and morality are a very real part of the universe and that kenotic behaviour is deeply embedded in the universe.
"The list of outputs is phenomenal: 322 publications, 79 popular articles, nine presentations, 16 public interviews and 10 books. Other achievements include many short-term appointments abroad. He wrote a book on low-income housing policy in the 1970s, which incensed the authorities of the day and has been found of relevance in recent times. He was awarded the Templeton Prize (the 34th) for 2004 and the Star of South Africa in 1999."
Runner-up in this category was another UCT stalwart Professor Peter Folb, chief specialist scientist at the Medical Research Council (MRC).
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Please view the republishing articles page for more information.