National Orders for UCT four

03 November 2008

(Clockwise from top) Prof Wieland Gevers, Prof Tim Noakes and Prof Pragasen Pillay were three of the four UCT scholars to receive National Orders from President Kgalema Motlanthe last week. Prof Doug Butterworth (bottom left) could not attend.

Four UCT stalwarts were among the 29 recipients (including five posthumous awards) who received National Orders from President Kgalema Motlanthe on Tuesday, 28 October.

The Order of Mapungubwe (Silver Category) was bestowed on Professor Doug Butterworth of the Department of Mathematics and Applied Mathematics, former senior deputy-vice-chancellor Professor Wieland Gevers, Professor Tim Noakes of the MRC/UCT Research Unit for Exercise Science and Sports Medicine, and Professor Pragasen Pillay of the Department of Electrical Engineering.

The Order of Mapungubwe is awarded to South African citizens for excellence and exceptional achievement. National Orders are the highest awards that a country may bestow, through its president, on its citizens and eminent foreign nationals.

The university has many alumni and staff who have received National Orders over the years, including luminaries such as Emeritus Professor JM Coetzee (2005), Hamilton Naki (2002), Emeritus Professor Peter Beighton (2002), Professor Allan Cormack (posthumously, 2002) and Professor Daya Reddy (2004).

Vice-Chancellor Dr Max Price endorsed the valuable contribution UCT academics and staff, some of them Nobel Laureates, have made to broader society, both at home and internationally.

"Their input has been across a wide spectrum, from great literature and pioneering medicine, to cutting-edge mathematics and sustainable technology.

"The group that received this year's Orders is again testimony to the span of disciplines in which UCT scholars continue to stand out."

This year Butterworth was honoured for his excellent contribution to the betterment of the environment and sustainability of the country's fisheries. He is an acknowledged world leader in the field of scientific fishery assessment, modelling and management. The nature of his research is deliberately applied and largely motivated by the need to provide sound scientific advice in relation to current pressing issues in fisheries management.

"My thanks are extended to the university for the flexible manner in which they have allowed me to operate, without which I would not have been able to achieve what I have internationally in my field," he said.

Gevers, the former director of the Institute of Infectious Disease and Molecular Medicine (IIDMM) after he retired in 2002, was recognised for his excellent contribution to the field of higher education and medicine.

A former Rhodes Scholar at Oxford, where he obtained his DPhil under Nobel Laureate Sir Hans Krebs, Gevers was the driving force behind the establishment of the IIDMM. He was one of the first recipients of UCT's Distinguished Teacher Award and became a Life Fellow in 1984.

Noakes, a National Research Foundation (NRF) A-rated researcher, was honoured for his excellent contribution to the field of sport and the science of physical exercise.

The Discovery Health professor of exercise and sports science, Noakes established ESSM in the early 1980s. It is now an acclaimed research unit of the Medical Research Council.

"I am extremely proud that the importance of this discipline should be acknowledged," Noakes said. "I was overcome by the messages of congratulations that I received at the ceremony from a broad cross-section of South Africans from many different disciplines and interests, including politics, the arts and culture.

"All expressed their support for the value of sport and the way in which we at UCT and the Sports Science Institute of South Africa have used science to help South African sport and to promote health and wellness for all South Africans."

Also an NRF A-rated researcher, Pillay was lauded for his excellent achievement in and contribution to the field of energy conservation. He is a specialist in renewable energy technology.

His research interests include the design and control of electrical machines, electric motor drive systems, traction and hybrid electrical vehicles, and renewable energy - including conservation and sustainability issues in power and energy engineering.

It is notable that the Order of Mapungubwe has been awarded to three members of the Department of Mathematics and Applied Mathematics: Butterworth, Reddy, and Emeritus Professor George Ellis.

Of the three, two have shared the same secretary, Di Loureiro, for two decades.

Read the list of previous recipients of the Order of Mapungubwe.

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