Emeritus Professor William Bond, Professor Estelle (Vicki) Lambert and Associate Professor Darren Martin from the University of Cape Town (UCT) are among the most-cited researchers in the world. This is according to the latest list from Clarivate Analytics.
The Highly Cited Researchers list identifies scientists and social scientists from across the globe who have demonstrated exceptional influence reflected through their publication of multiple papers frequently cited by their peers during the past decade.
Researchers are selected for their exceptional performance in one or more of 21 fields (those used in the Essential Science Indicators or ESI) or across several fields. This year, 6 602 researchers from more than 70 countries and regions were recognised: 3 774 in specific fields and 2 828 for cross-field impact.
This is the first year that Martin has appeared on the Highly Cited Researchers list. He is part of the Division of Computational Biology, in the Department of Integrative Biomedical Sciences, and a member of the UCT Institute of Infectious Disease and Molecular Medicine (IDM).
Martin’s main research interests lie in the role of genetic recombination in virus evolution. As a mechanism that generates diversity in viral genetic sequences, recombination can contribute to the evolution of enhanced capacity to cause disease, drug resistance and vaccine evasion.
The main reason Martin made it onto the Highly Cited Researchers list was because of his participation in research related to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Recently, he was involved in identifying the Omicron variant and is now trying to discover where it came from.
“I am grateful that, rather than sitting helplessly at home for the past 18 months, I’ve had the opportunity to work with some very talented and extremely motivated scientists – both in South Africa and the rest of the world – to help figure some stuff out about the virus that will hopefully be useful in our fight against it.”
Martin explains that initially the virus didn’t seem to be evolving very much, but by November 2021, the first signs of substantial evolution of SARS-CoV-2 started appearing.
“From then onwards, I have been almost exclusively focused on trying to keep track of the new genetic changes that the virus is undergoing and trying to figure out which ones are going to make the virus harder to control and why.”
Bond, an emeritus professor with the UCT Department of Biological Sciences, is listed in the cross-field category. His research covers the processes that most strongly influence changes in vegetation, including fire, climate extremes, habitat fragmentation and vertebrate herbivory.
Lambert is the director of the Health through Physical Activity, Lifestyle and Sport Research Centre in the Department of Human Biology at UCT. Her research largely focuses on the role of physical activity in public health in the Global South with an emphasis on equity and environmental justice.
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