Innovating for impact: NSTF awards shortlist UCT academics

28 May 2024 | Story Paul Lawrence. Photo Supplied. Read time 4 min.
UCT academics feature prominently on the shortlist for the 2023/2024 NSTF awards
UCT academics feature prominently on the shortlist for the 2023/2024 NSTF awards

Several University of Cape Town (UCT) academics have been announced as finalists in multiple categories of the 2023/2024 National Science and Technology Forum (NSTF) Awards, an event held annually with metals and mining company South32 since 2015.

The awards are recognized as the premier accolades for science, engineering, technology (SET), and innovation in South Africa. The competition is fierce, with many nominations annually and an exceptionally talented pool of scientists vying for recognition.

This year's theme is "The Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) in South Africa." It was selected to acknowledge the rapid advancements in digital technology and its widespread applications, which are transforming lives and opportunities both globally and nationally. UCT scientists, engineers, and technologists play a leading role in the country's innovative excellence.

UCT academics were nominated as finalists in the following categories:

TW Kambule-NSTF Award: Researcher (for candidates who contributed through research and its outputs over a period from 615 years of research from the commencement of the research career, predominantly in South Africa).

  • Professor Deshen Moodley – Chair: Department of Science and Innovation (DSI)/National Research Foundation (NRF), South African Research Chairs Initiative (SARChI) in Artificial Intelligence Systems; Co-Director: Centre for Artificial Intelligence Research, Department of Computer Science, UCT.
  • Professor Sudesh Sivarasu – Chair: DSI/NRF SARChI Chair in Biomedical Engineering and Innovation; Director: Biomedical Engineering Research Centre;  Head: UCT MedTech, UCT. 

Engineering Research Capacity Development Award (for candidates who demonstrated outstanding leadership in increasing the participation of young engineers and technologists in further research in their chosen SET fields, over the past 510 years).

  • Professor Sudesh Sivarasu

NSTF-SAMRC Clinician-Scientist Award (for candidates who demonstrated the ability to conduct high-impact research in biomedical areas and contribute to SET through such research for the purposes of enhancing life and improving the health of the community).

  • Professor Aneesa Vanker – Associate Professor and Paediatric Pulmonologist, Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital; SAMRC Post-doctoral Clinician Fellowship, UCT.

Data for Research Award (for an outstanding contribution to SET by an individual or a team by advancing the availability, management and re-use of research data).

  • Digital Library Services, UCT – Ibali: Digital Collections, UCT – Digital Scholarship Specialist: Dr Sanjin Muftić.
  • Inter-University Institute for Data Intensive Astronomy (IDIA), a partnership between UC), the University of the Western Cape (UWC), and the University of Pretoria (UP) – Interim Director: Prof Patrick Woudt, Department of Astronomy, UCT.

Innovation Award: Corporate Organisation (to recognise innovation through research and development that led to commercialisation of ground-breaking scientific and technological discoveries.)

  • Inter-University Institute for Data Intensive Astronomy

Special Annual Theme Award: 4IR in SA (this award recognises that 4IR is a new chapter in human development, enabled and necessitated by extraordinary technology advances commensurate with those of the first, second and third industrial revolutions. 

  • Inter-University Institute for Data Intensive Astronomy (IDIA)
  • Professor Deshen Moodley  

The celebration, dubbed South Africa's 'Science Oscars' will be hosted on 11 July, 2024 in Cape Town.

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