Four more national chairs for UCT

12 March 2012

Jammie StepsUCT picked up a quartet of new research chairs from the 60 awarded through the South African Research Chairs Initiative (SARChI) in February.

The four new chairs are in Stable Isotopes in Archaeology and Palaeo-environmental Studies, to be hosted in the Department of Archaeology; the chair in Environmental and Social Dimensions of the Bio-Economy, to be held in the Department of Environmental and Geographical Science; the chair in Reaction Engineering, which will be located in the Department of Chemical Engineering; and a chair in Industrial Computational Fluid Dynamics, which will be housed in the Department of Mechanical Engineering.

The next step is for UCT to prepare full proposals for these chairs, and to determine who the holders of these four new chairs will be.

The government has invested over R1.1 billion in the SARChI initiative since its inception in 2005. In this instalment, said Science & Technology Minister Naledi Pandor when she announced the chairs, special consideration had been given to the universities of technology, rural-based institutions and those that had not up to now participated in the programme. Following the award of the 60 new chairs, 21 universities will be hosting chairs instead of the previous 16.

Many of the new chairs were also in keeping with themes of national priority, namely the creation of decent work and sustainable livelihoods, education, health, rural development, and the fight against crime and corruption.

More chairs were also awarded to institutions that previously had fewer chairs, Pandor explained. The University of the Western Cape, for example, which had until now held only four chairs, was awarded seven in this round, more than any other institution.

But UCT, now home to no fewer than 32 SARChI chairs from the 154 awarded in total so far, has no reason to complain. The university currently holds more than one-fifth of the national chairs.

"The exceptional quality of the proposals that came from all over UCT in this round gave me renewed pride in the depth of our research," said the deputy vice-chancellor responsible for research, Professor Danie Visser. "And we will continue to seek ways to advance the important research agendas that have surfaced through this process."

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