nGAP: Growth, profile and consolidation

22 October 2019 | Story Robert Morrell. Photo Ricardo Adams. Read time 4 min.
A writing retreat at Mont Fleur, Stellenbosch.
A writing retreat at Mont Fleur, Stellenbosch.

One of the main goals of the Department of Higher Education’s (DHET) New Generation of Academics Programme (nGAP) is the successful completion of a doctoral degree. The writing retreats provide a chance for sustained writing, and many take advantage of this, waking up early and burning the midnight oil. But there is also time for chatting and socialising. This is central to the nGAP mission of developing a new generation of academics, one that is inserted into new intellectual networks and brings new energy and enthusiasm to the academic enterprise.

UCT is growing its early career cohort and nGAP is proving to be a great contributor to the process. Earlier this year UCT was successful in bidding for five new nGAP posts. These were awarded to Film and Television Studies (Humanities), Mechanical Engineering (Engineering & the Built Environment), Numeracy Centre (Centre for Higher Education Development), Organisational Psychology (Commerce) and Psychiatric Genetics (Health Sciences).

At the time of writing, two of these posts have been filled (see the biographies of Nastassja Koen and Muzi Sikhonde) and the others are in the process of being filled. The nGAP cohort has also been expanded by the inclusion of Andiswa Mfengu. Andiswa is an Associate currently working towards her PhD in the Department of Knowledge and Information Stewardship (Humanities).

In September the DHET put out a call for a Sixth Phase of nGAP, inviting universities to apply for further posts. Thus far, UCT has been awarded a total of 22 posts: 5 posts (Phase 1), 4 posts (Phase 2), 3 posts (Phase 3), 5 posts (Phase 4) and 5 posts (Phase 5).

A major feature of nGAP work has been to promote a collective identity, to create new networks and to foster a collaborative, friendly and productive environment. Writing retreats have been integral to this approach. In October members of the Cohort gathered for another quarterly writing retreat at the Zevenwacht wine estate.

nGAP members continue to make progress, attracting awards, developing national reputations and travelling internationally. Dr Philile Mbatha was awarded the prestigious University of Michigan African Presidential Programme Scholars Programme (UMAPS). Xolisa Guzula presented Halala Winner, a book she co-authored, at the South African Book Fair at Constitution Hill in September. Amanda Mtya attended the Computing in Construction Summer School in Senigallia, Italy in July. Kentse Mpolokeng presented at both the 47th Annual conference of the Anatomical Society of Southern Africa in Pilanesburg and in London at the International Federation of Associations of Anatomists (IFAA).

Three nGAP members were awarded NRF Research Developments Grants. Congratulations to Dr Melissa Abrahams, Frissiano Honwana and Ayanda Pekane. Dr Robert Morrell, nGAP manager, was appointed as a member of the Ministerial Task Team on Gender-based Violence and Sexual Harassment.

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