Joint professorships and fellowships awarded to UCT and UoB scholars

15 February 2024 | Story Staff writer. Photo Supplied. Voice Cwenga Koyana. Read time 6 min.
Scholars that have been awarded joint professorships and fellowships as part of a joint research partnership between UCT and UoB.

Two University of Cape Town (UCT) scholars have been awarded joint professorships and fellowships to work with academics at the University of Bristol (UoB) and create opportunities for deep collaborative research. Meanwhile, UoB was awarded two professorships and four fellowships.

The UCT-Bristol Professorships and Fellowships Programme Awards explore research themes which include hidden histories, climate change impacts and opportunities for health, equitable and sustainable health outcomes (with underpinning themes of social justice, data and digitalisation) and environmental and social sustainability.

Background information on the collaboration programme

Through a Memorandum of Understanding, UCT and UoB have agreed to promote academic cooperation between both institutions in areas of common interest. This includes exchanges of staff and information, joint development of research projects and jointly organised scientific and cultural events.

The highly successful ‘Researchers without Border's’ cotutelle PhD programme provides a framework for building research capacity within and across the two universities, providing new opportunities for students to work on exciting research projects that maximise the complementary strengths and capabilities of both partners. 

Four further awards will be granted in the second round of the UCT calls announced on 25 January.

The programme reflects the spirit and practice of the Africa Charter for Transformative Research Collaborations (ACTRC), which aims to articulate the principles, goals and guiding frameworks for a transformed mode of research partnership between Africa and the Global North. The goal is to do this by ensuring that joint knowledge production approaches are progressively valued and embedded in joint partnerships. The result being to create equal ground for developing opportunities for engagement, impact and longer-term collaboration between institutions and their communities.

The professorships are for three years, with UCT scholars spending 12 months at UoB, and vice versa. While the fellowships will run for two years – six months at UoB for UCT scholars and vice versa, the first of UoB visits to UCT are underway, with the UCT visits to UoB set to commence in the coming months.

“The partnership between UCT and UoB is remarkable for its depth, breadth and equity, and this latest initiative is an example of deep commitment and trust from both institutions. We owe a debt of gratitude to those who led this partnership and initiative, in particular the previous DVC [for] research and internationalisation, Professor Sue Harrison,” said the acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Research and Internationalisation, Professor Jeff Murugan.

“The professorships and fellowships [programme] will not only deepen our relationship, sending out roots through some of our best researchers in many directions; it will also produce collaborations that are exemplars of the pioneering work our two universities, together with Universities South Africa, have led in developing a Charter that will transform partnerships between Africa and the global North,” he added.

The participating professors and fellows are expected to co-publish papers and submit joint grant applications to continue building the partnership between UCT and Bristol. They will also develop, with their host, a programme of engagement with the university and wider community. This will include giving lectures/talks to relevant audiences during their visits, beyond their immediate specialist collaborators; and contributing to the wider research culture of both universities.

Reflecting on the significance of this partnership programme, Professor Agnes Nairn, the pro vice-chancellor for global engagement at UoB said: “these professorships and fellowships mark an important and exciting moment in our deep strategic research-led partnership with UCT. It is one of our most important institutional international relationships.

“These new research collaborations also represent a milestone for our work with the continent of Africa – transforming the balance of research relationships between the global North and South. For the next three years Bristol and Cape Town will be supporting vital cross-fertilisation of ideas, evidence and impact.”

The UCT awardees

Dr Shanaaz Hoosain, Senior Lecturer, Department of Social Work and Social Development, Faculty of Humanities.

Research theme: Co-creating knowledge with communities who have a hidden history of slavery.

Bristol host: Dr Saima Nasar, Department of History, School of Humanities.

Professor Mark New, Department of Environmental and Geographical Science, Faculty of Science and Senior Research Fellow, African Climate and Development Initiative.

Research theme: Operational climate impacts attribution

Bristol host: Professor Guy Howard, Cabot Institute for the Environment and School of Civil, Aerospace and Design Engineering.

The Bristol awardees

Dr Eyob Balcha Gebremariam, Research Associate, School of Policy Studies, Perivoli Africa Research Centre

Research theme: A comparative study on the multiple layers of power imbalances in scientific knowledge production: the case of public health in Ethiopia and South Africa.

UCT host: Associate Professor Divine Fuh, Institute for Humanities in Africa, Humanities.

Dr Francesca Bartoli-Leonard, Senior Research Associate, Translational Health Sciences, Bristol Medical School.

Research theme: Novel markers to risk-stratify paediatric patients with congenital heart disease.

UCT host: Professor Tim Pennel, Chris Barnard Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery, Faculty of Health Sciences.

Dr Ailish Craig, Research Associate, School of Geographical Sciences.

Research theme: Climate resilient decision making in the health sector in southern African cities: Characterising and communicating climate information for climate resilient decision making in the health sector in southern African cities.

UCT host: Alice McClure, Department of Environmental and Geographical Sciences.

Dr James Duminy, Lecturer in Human Geography, School of Geographical Sciences

Research theme: Life-course cities, planning for long-term human health and wellbeing in the Anthropocene.

UCT host: Associate Professor Andrew Tucker, African Centre for Cities, Faculty of Engineering & the Built Environment.

Professor Susan Parnell, Professor in Human Geography, School of Geographical Sciences.

Research theme: Mobilising sustainable global alternatives through African cities.

UCT host: Professor Edgar Pieterse, African Centre for Cities, and Professor Frank Eckardt, Department of Environmental and Geographical Sciences.

Professor Leon Tikly, Professor in Education and UNESCO Chair in Inclusive and Quality Education for All, School of Education.

Research theme: Transforming knowledge and research for just and sustainable futures in Africa.

UCT host: Professor Azeem Badroodien, School of Education, Humanities.

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