Upcoming inaugural lectures for September

30 August 2023

Dear colleagues and students

Since the reconfiguration of the UCT Inaugural Lecture series, we have held six lectures. I am delighted to let you know that three more academics – Professors Sebastian Skatulla, Edina Sinanovic and Jacqueline Yeats – will share aspects of their scholarship with us in September as part of this series. The lectures are scheduled for 13, 18 and 27 September.

The inaugural lectures are a central part of academic life and provide a platform for recently appointed professors to share insights into their activities and achievements. The lectures also provide the university with an opportunity to showcase our academics and share our research with members of the wider university community and the general public in an accessible way.

Professor Sebastian Skatulla (Faculty of Engineering & the Built Environment)

Professor Skatulla’s lecture will be held on Wednesday, 13 September 2023 at the Snape Teaching Studio 3B, Snape Building on upper campus at 18:00. It is titled “What has structural mechanics to do with rheumatic heart disease and global climate change?”.

Structural mechanics is a discipline of civil engineering and considers the effect of forces on structures in terms of inducing motion, deformation, damage and fracture. These very general concepts of mechanics are equally applicable to “structures” in the widest sense.

Structural mechanics plays a significant role in addressing some of our biggest challenges in South Africa: prevention and treatment of rheumatic heart disease, and prediction of global climate change and sea level rise due to the retreat of Antarctic sea shelves.

Professor Skatulla was appointed a senior lecturer for structural engineering and mechanics in the Department of Civil Engineering at UCT in 2009. He was promoted to associate professor in 2018 and to professor in 2022. His research activities are centred on multiscale and multiphase continuum methods. Current activities comprise the poroelasticity of Antarctic sea-ice and shelf-ice, and growth phenomena in biological tissue.

He founded the first polar laboratory on the African continent in 2019, and his current focus is on establishing an international South African-led research project to conduct long-term observations and structural glaciological modelling of the Fimbul Ice Shelf and the effects of global climate change.

Professor Edina Sinanovic (Faculty of Health Sciences)

On Monday, 18 September, Professor Edina Sinanovic will present a lecture titled “Getting the most out of life – Understanding the opportunity cost of your decisions”. The lecture will be held at the Wolfson Lecture Theatre, IDM Building, Health Sciences campus at 17:00.

The combination of constrained resources and increasing demands in health care is making priority setting a crucial factor for health policy. This is particularly essential in South Africa where a great deal remains to be done for the country to achieve universal health coverage through the implementation of the National Health Insurance (NHI).

If the aim of the NHI is to maximise benefits to the society with a limited budget – and conversely minimise opportunity costs – there is a need to measure the relative costs and benefits of alternative interventions. A health care intervention that is cost-effective is one in which additional health benefits have been leveraged against their additional costs, resulting in a more efficient healthcare provision.

In this inaugural lecture, Professor Sinanovic will reflect on her life and career to date, focused on providing policymakers with the economic evidence they need to maximise the use of limited resources. She will outline the critical role of economic evaluation in health priority setting and the work she has done in this area, especially in relation to tuberculosis interventions and the Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine.

Professor Sinanovic is a professor of health economics, head of the Health Economics Division, and acting director of the Health Economics Unit at the School of Public Health. She is a member of the Strategic Scientific Advisory Board of the Botnar Research Centre for Child Health at the University of Basel, which is dedicated to advancing global child and adolescent health. She has also served as a World Health Organization Immunization and Vaccines Related Implementation Research Advisory Committee member.

Professor Jacqueline Yeats (Faculty of Law)

Professor Jacqueline Yeats’s lecture will take place on Wednesday, 27 September at the Oliver Tambo Moot Court, Kramer Level 5, on middle campus. It will address the topic “Value(s), Vices and Voice – how the evolution of modern company law reflects shifting societal values in a changing world”.

The commercial, social and environmental landscape within which companies operate has changed dramatically since the turn of the century. The South African company law and corporate governance framework underwent significant changes during this period, which ensured that the law remained current and was aligned with international developments. However, in recent years, companies across the globe have been confronted with a host of new and complex issues. These include environmental, social and governance (ESG) investing, sustainability concerns, corporate social responsibility, focused stakeholder and shareholder activism, increased calls for corporate accountability and transparency, and campaigns aimed at the formal recognition of multiple stakeholder interests by directors. The catalyst for these developments has been a shift in societal values and priorities regarding the relationships between people, the planet and profit.

Company law reform has made some progress in addressing the new developments and challenges, but the process is ongoing and far from complete. This creates legal uncertainty, and it makes the position of company directors – who have a duty to act in the best interests of the company – particularly complex and challenging. In the lecture, Professor Yeats will discuss these developments and the challenges they present for companies.

Professor Yeats practised as a commercial attorney before joining UCT in 2015. Her research and teaching are primarily focused on company law and corporate governance, the interaction between the regulatory frameworks and their combined effect on companies, directors, shareholders and other stakeholders. Her PhD thesis focused on the appraisal right, a novel shareholder remedy introduced into South African company law by the Companies Act of 2008.

She is currently involved in two collaborative United Nations research projects aimed at effective anti-corruption education and the design of a university curriculum to achieve this objective.

Professor Yeats was instrumental in founding the Corporate Law and Governance Unit (CLGU) within the Department of Commercial Law at UCT; and is currently the director of the CLGU. She is a former recipient of the UCT Distinguished Teacher Award. She is also a Fellow of the Teaching Advancement at Universities (TAU) national programme.


Emer Prof Daya Reddy
Vice-Chancellor interim

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