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Leading South African Researchers Recognised at the 2018 NRF Awards

PORT ELIZABETH, September 26, 2018 - The National Research Foundation (NRF) today announced the recipients for top honours in the science and research field at the annual NRF Awards. The award recipients, who are top researchers in South Africa and rated by the NRF, were announced at a ceremony at the Boardwalk Hotel & Convention Centre in Port Elizabeth on Wednesday, 26 September 2018.

The NRF Awards celebrate leading researchers in their respective fields based on peer evaluation and according to international best practice. The work of these researchers is assessed for, among other things, their contribution to the field of study focusing on quality and impact. The awards are also aimed at inspiring and encouraging the continued culture of advancing South Africa’s knowledge economy and technological innovativeness by rewarding those that make use of research for the advancement and betterment of humanity.

Dr Molapo Qhobela, Chief executive Officer of the NRF, said: “The NRF awards recognise and celebrate the efforts of these outstanding women and men who, through their work, are advancing knowledge, transforming lives and inspiring a nation. These are the men and women whose work are helping transform South Africa into a knowledge intensive society where all derive equitable benefit from science and technology. They are crucial in achieving the NRF’s commitment to advancing Science for Societal Benefit.”

The NRF Rating System, which is used to evaluate researchers, is a world respected benchmark based on peer reviews that assess the quality and impact of the work of researchers seeking an NRF rating. The annual NRF Awards, therefore, highlight and celebrate the work of those who, according to their peers, have distinguished themselves in their fields.

NRF Awards are two  categories , ratings based ( A and P ratings) as well as special categories.

The special NRF Awards were presented to the following:

  • Dr Bernard Fanaroff, Special Adviser and Former Director Square Kilometre Array South Africa(SKA-SA), the NRF Lifetime Achievement Award, which recognises the lifelong research achievements of individuals together with their impact on society. Dr Fanaroff was recognised for his scientific contribution; his activism as an anti-apartheid activist; his contribution as a public servant and as the Director of SKA-SA. In the latter role he successfully led the bid for South Africa to host the SKA and the design and construction of the Meerkat Telescope.
  • The Research Excellence Award for Next Generation Researchers went to Mrs Natalie Benjamin-Damons, Department of Physiotherapy, University of the Witwatersrand, and Mr Edward Netherlands, Unit for Environmental Sciences and Management, North-West University, for outstanding academic performance in their final year as doctoral students.
  • The Research Excellence Award for Early Career/Emerging Researchers, which recognises outstanding research excellence by current Thuthuka grantholders, was received by Professor Tricia Naicker, Discipline of Pharmaceutical Sciences University of KwaZulu-Natal, and Dr Mohlopheni Marakalala, Department of Pathology University of Cape Town.
  • Professor Faizal Bux of the Institute for Water and Wastewater Technology, Durban University of Technology received the Champion of Research Capacity Development and Transformation at South African Higher Education Institutions. This award acknowledges individuals for their contributions to the transformation of South Africa’s science community and landscape. The aim of this award is to encourage and promote this activity across the South African research community.
  • The Hamilton Naki Award was received by Professor Edmund February, Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Cape Town. The award is named after the self-taught surgeon who trained generations of medical students in surgical techniques, the Hamilton Naki Award honours individuals for achieving world-class research performance despite considerable challenges.
  • The Excellence in Science Engagement Award recognised Dr Rehana Malgas-Enus from the Department of Chemistry and Polymer Science at Stellenbosch University for her outstanding contributions to public engagement with science. The aim of the award is to encourage academics to make their work, and science and technology in general, more accessible to the public.
  • The Durban University of Technology walked away with the NRF Excelleration Award for achieving the most improved research performance over recent years as evaluated by independent parties, and measured against a selection of critical indicators.

Rating based Awards were presented to the following:

P-Ratings were awarded to four (4) young and upcoming researchers (under 35 years of age) who have held a doctorate or equivalent qualification for less than five years at the time of application. These researchers are considered likely to become future international leaders in their respective fields, on the basis of exceptional potential demonstrated in research performance and output during doctoral and/or early post-doctoral careers.

The ratings were awarded to Dr Sarah Fawcett, Department of Oceanography, University of Cape Town; Dr Geoffrey Howarth, Department of Geological Sciences, University of Cape Town; Dr Gareth Hempson, Ndlovu Node at the South African Environmental Observation Network, and Dr Alistair Price, Department of Private Law, University of Cape Town.

A-rated researchers are those who have been recognised by their peers as leading international scholars in their respective fields, for the high quality and impact of recent research outputs. Acquiring an NRF rating generates considerable acknowledgement and respect for the individual researchers as well as their institutions.

The A rated Awardees for the NRF Awards 2018 are:




Prof J B [Jillian] Adler

School of Education
Faculty of Humanities

University of the Witwatersrand

Prof L D [Lewis] Ashwal

School of Geosciences
Faculty of Science

University of the Witwatersrand

Prof K [Kelly] Chibale

Department of Chemistry
Faculty of Science

University of Cape Town

Prof K [Keertan] Dheda

Department of Medicine
Faculty of Health Sciences

University of Cape Town

Prof G A [George] Ekama

Department of Civil Engineering
Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment

University of Cape Town

Prof A [Andrew] Forbes

School of Physics
Faculty of Science

University of the Witwatersrand

Prof G E [Glenda] Gray


SA Medical Research Council

Prof L A [Lawrence] Hamilton

NRF/British Academy SA-UK Bilateral Chair in Political Theory
Faculty of Humanities

University of the Witwatersrand

Prof J D [Jan Dirk] Kramers

Department of Geology
Faculty of Science

University of Johannesburg

Prof H P A [Hans-Peter] Kunzi

Department of Mathematics and Applied Mathematics
Faculty of Science

University of Cape Town

Prof B G [Barry] Lovegrove

School of Life Sciences
College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science

University of KwaZulu-Natal

Prof R [Roy] Maartens

Department of Physics and Astronomy
Faculty of Natural Sciences

University of the Western Cape

Prof C W [Curtis] Marean

Centre for Coastal Palaeoscience

Nelson Mandela University /
Arizona State University

Prof J P [Josua] Meyer

Department of Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering
Fac of Engineering, Built Environment & Information Tech

University of Pretoria

Prof R P [Robert] Millar

Department of Physiology
Faculty of Health Sciences

University of Pretoria

Prof A J O [Anthony] Onwuegbuzie

Distinguished Visiting Professor
Faculty of Education

University of Johannesburg

Prof A G R [Anthony] Reddie

Department of Philosophy, Practical & Systematic Theology
College of Human Sciences

University of South Africa

Prof L M [Linda] Richter

DST-NRF Centre of Excellence in Human Development
Office of the DVC: Research

University of the Witwatersrand

Prof E P [Edward] Rybicki

Department of Molecular & Cell Biology
Faculty of Science

University of Cape Town

Prof M J [Michael] Samways

Department of Conservation Ecology and Entomology
Faculty of AgriSciences

Stellenbosch University

Prof H S [Simon] Schaaf

Department of Paediatrics and Child Health
Fac of Medicine & Health Sciences

Stellenbosch University

Prof R A [Roger] Sheldon

School of Chemistry
Faculty of Science

University of the Witwatersrand

Prof B W [Beric] Skews

School of Mechanical, Industrial and Aeronautical Engineering
Faculty Engineering & the Built Environment

University of the Witwatersrand

Prof A M [Alan] Weinberg

Department of Research Administration

University of South Africa

Prof Heather J Zar

Department of Paediatrics and Child Health
Faculty of Health Sciences

University of Cape Town







Issued by: the National Research Foundation



Palesa Mokoena
Tel: (012) 481 4958
E-mail: palesa.mokoena@nrf.ac.za

NRF Awards: The annual NRF Awards recognise and celebrate South African research excellence. The awards presented to researchers are in two categories, the ratings linked awards and special recognition awards. The rating linked awards are given to those who have qualified for an A or P rating, as evaluated through the peer review based NRF rating system. The special recognition awards provide a platform to honour researchers for career achievements and contributions to knowledge creation and dissemination, as well as capacity development and transformation.

About the NRF Ratings: The NRF rating system is a key driver in the NRF’s aim to build a globally competitive science system in South Africa. It is a valuable tool for benchmarking the quality of our researchers against the best in the world. NRF ratings are allocated based on a researcher’s recent research outputs and impact as perceived by international peer reviewers. The rating system encourages researchers to publish high-quality outputs in high impact journals/outlets. Rated researchers as supervisors will impart cutting-edge skills to the next generation of researchers. The rating of individuals is based primarily on the quality and impact of their research outputs over the past eight years, taking into consideration the evaluation made by local and international peers. It identifies researchers who count among the leaders in their fields of expertise and gives recognition to those who constantly produce high-quality research outputs. Several South African universities use the outcomes of the NRF evaluation and rating process to position themselves as research-intensive institutions, while others provide incentives for their staff members to acquire and maintain a rating and give special recognition to top-rated researchers. The rating process is coordinated by members of academia who are represented on the following committees: · 25 Specialist Committees coordinated by a Convener · The Executive Evaluation Committee · The Appeals Committee The ratings that are awarded fall within the following categories: · A – Leading international researchers · B – Internationally acclaimed researchers · C – Established researchers · P – Prestigious Awards · Y – Promising young researchers

About the NRF: The National Research Foundation (NRF) is an independent statutory body set up in accordance with the National Research Foundation Act. Its mandate is to support and promote research through funding, human resource development and the provision of the necessary research facilities in order to facilitate the creation of knowledge, innovation and development in all fields of science and technology, including indigenous knowledge, and thereby contribute to the improvement of the quality of life of all South Africans. Website: www.nrf.ac.za | Twitter: @NRF_News | Facebook: @NRFSouthAfrica.

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