Congratulations to our NRF award winners

06 September 2022 | Professor Sue Harrison

Dear colleagues and students

Every year the National Research Foundation (NRF) celebrates South African research at its annual awards ceremony. Nominated by their peers and research institutions, awardees are recognised in a variety of categories.

I am extremely proud of the many University of Cape Town (UCT) researchers that were nominated and those that ultimately received accolades at last week’s award ceremony. Six UCT researchers were awarded in three categories.

Professor Rajend Mesthrie (Department of African Studies & Linguistics) received the Hamilton Naki Award to honour the many ways in which he navigated challenges and hardships to deliver an incredibly high standard of research. Professor Mesthrie is one of UCT’s A-rated researchers.

Associate Professor Amir Patel (Department of Electrical Engineering) who uses the locomotion of animals to inspire his robotics, and Dr Wade Petersen (Department of Chemistry) who focuses on the development of new bio-actives, were both awarded the Research Excellence Award for Emerging Researchers for their outstanding research performance.

Jessica Fell (Department of Civil Engineering), Nkosiyomzi Haile Matutu (Department of Psychology) and Athi Welsh (Department of Chemistry) – all final-year PhD students – were awarded the Research Excellence Award for Next Generation Researchers to celebrate their outstanding academic performances.

What is striking about this year’s cohort of NRF awardees is that their research has incredible value outside the realm of academia. When I read about the focus of their research, it is evident that these are South African researchers with their focus very much on the benefit for South Africa – local knowledge to address local challenges – through research that is cutting edge at home and globally. This brings our Vision 2030 strategy for UCT to life.

UCT’s established researchers also shone at this year’s NRF awards. Professor Linda-Gail Bekker (Desmond Tutu HIV Centre) and Professor Tommie Meyer (Department of Computer Science) improved their ratings to an A. The late Professor Timothy Egan (Department of Chemistry) was also awarded an A-rating posthumously. Emeritus Professor Dirk van Zyl Smit (Centre for Criminology) also achieved a new A-rating.

Additionally, several researchers retained their A ratings, including Professor Anusuya Chinsamy-Turan (Department of Biological Sciences), Professor Valerie Mizrahi (Institute of Infectious Disease and Molecular Medicine), Professor Gerald Nurick (Department of Mechanical Engineering) and Emeritus Professor David Chidester (Department for the Study of Religions). This brings UCT’s researchers who held active A ratings in 2022 to 31, the highest of any university in South Africa. Professor Jess Auerbach (Graduate School of Business) was also awarded a P-rating within one month of joining UCT as a result of support from her previous institution, North-West University.

Please join me in congratulating each of these incredible researchers as well as those colleagues who received a nomination. It is recognition like this that demonstrates that our researchers and research support community are key in securing and retaining our position as the top university in South Africa and on the continent.

My sincere thank you to each of you.

Warm regards

Professor Sue Harrison
Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research and Internationalisation

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