UCT women win big

28 August 2012 | Story by Newsroom

As has become their custom, UCT scholars young and older - no fewer than 11, in fact - featured prominently among the winners of this year's South African Women in Science Awards, or WISA.

Prof Alison Lewis Prof Hanri Mostert
Winning work: Prof Alison Lewis and Prof Hanri Mostert were among the UCT winners of the 2012 Women of Science Awards.

The women, from senior scholars to master's students, were honoured at a gala ceremony in Pretoria on 24 August, where the awards were presented by the national Department of Science & Technology (DST) and minister Naledi Pandor.

Leading the procession of UCT women was Professor Alison Lewis of the Department of Chemical Engineering, who picked up the top award in the blue-ribbon category for Distinguished Women Scientists: Physical and Engineering Sciences. Professor Hanri Mostert, of the Department of Private Law, was named runner-up in the category for Distinguished Young Women Scientists: Social Sciences and Humanities.

UCT was particularly dominant in the sections for up-and-coming researchers. So, for example, the winner in the Emerging Researchers category was Dr Sindiso Mnisi-Weeks, senior lecturer in the Department of Private Law and a senior researcher in the Law, Race and Gender Research Unit.

UCT also won three of the six DST fellowships for doctoral students. These went to Joyce Mwangama, who is working towards her PhD degree with the communications research group in the Department of Electrical Engineering; Gladwell Nganga, a doctoral researcher working on construction materials in the Department of Civil Engineering, and Toni-Lee Sterley, whose current research is on the neurobiology of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and depression/anxiety disorder.

In addition, UCT master's students bagged five of the six DST fellowships on offer in that category. The winners were Matsopiane Maserumule, in the second year of her MSc in medicine; Lombe Mutale, doing her MSc in civil engineering; siblings Narjis and Sumaiyya Thawer, doing their master's studies in medical virology and immunology, respectively; and Akhona Vava, working on a master's degree in medical biochemistry.

"It was absolutely wonderful to see UCT researchers doing so well as the WISA event," said Professor Danie Visser, deputy vice-chancellor responsible for research, who was in Pretoria for the occasion. "Our researchers have again done us proud, across the board."

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