Upcoming lectures in the UCT Inaugural series

12 April 2023

Dear colleagues and students

The first two lectures in the reconfigured UCT Inaugural Lecture series will take place on 19 April and 10 May 2023. These will be presented by Professor Jeff Murugan and Professor Kirsty Donald respectively.

These lectures serve to recognise and celebrate the promotions to full professorships of the University of Cape Town (UCT) academics, and to provide a platform for them to share their scholarship with members of the wider university community and the general public in an accessible way.

On Wednesday, 19 April 2023, Professor Murugan will present a lecture titled “The Future is Quantum – a random walk in the landscape of mathematical physics”. It will take place in Lecture Theatre 1, School of Economics Building, Middle Campus from 18:00.

The early 20th century brought with it a revolution that was as profound as the first Industrial Revolution. Quantum mechanics demonstrated that the world at atomic scales was vastly different from what we experience every day. It paved the way for a new understanding of the universe, and most of the technological advances that have become integrated into our lives. Today, we lie at the precipice of a second quantum revolution that promises equally profound changes to human societies. Murugan will describe how work at UCT fits into this new future.

Murugan is a professor of Mathematical Physics in the Department of Mathematics and Applied Mathematics at UCT. A former deputy dean in the Faculty of Science, he is also a Simons Associate at the International Center for Theoretical Physics in Trieste, Italy, and a member of the Academy of Science of South Africa. His research interests lie primarily in understanding emergent phenomena, from spacetime itself to the properties of quantum matter and information. His most recent focus has been on low-dimensional quantum field theories, topological quantum matter and quantum chaos in disordered systems. He is a recipient of the UCT Distinguished Teacher Award.

The second lecture, titled “Context matters: Risk and resilience in early childhood brain development”, will be presented by Professor Donald on Wednesday, 10 May 2023. It will be held in the Neuroscience Auditorium, Health Sciences Campus, from 18:00.

Donald’s lecture celebrates her academic journey to explore the remarkable early development of the human brain, based in Africa, home to the fastest growing childhood population. Working with mothers and infants from communities in South Africa, Malawi and Kenya, and using measures of biological health, social interaction and innovative imaging techniques, Donald is creating a map of brain growth and development through the first thousand days of life. The lecture will share her quest to discover exactly when and how early life exposures and experiences impact on the brain’s development in our region, and what we can do to leave no child behind.

Donald is deputy director of the UCT Neuroscience Institute and for the last 15 years she has headed the Division of Developmental Paediatrics at the Red Cross Children’s War Memorial Hospital. Scientifically, she has contributed to our understanding of the role antenatal exposures play in shaping early brain development, and to our understanding of both phenotypic variability and genetic variation in developmental conditions in the African region. Internationally, she has served on the UNICEF expert panel for global standard-setting in early childhood development, and is a member of the World Health Organization Strategic and Technical Advisory Group on Mental Health, Brain Health and Substance Use.

Please mark your calendars for these two lectures and be sure to join us.


Emeritus Professor Daya Reddy
Interim Vice-Chancellor

Read previous communications:

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Please view the republishing articles page for more information.