Home » NRF Awards » P-Rated Researchers

A “P” rating is assigned to researchers (normally 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.

  • Professor Grant Theron’s research interest lies in the diagnosis, epidemiology and transmission of tuberculosis (TB). He chose these issues as they present a public health crisis both locally, where TB is the biggest killer of South Africans, and abroad. His most prominent scientific achievements have centred on the feasibility, accuracy and impact of “Xpert”, a ground-breaking new DNA-based test for TB, which he showed could be performed at a clinical level by minimally trained personnel.

    He has featured in internationally competitive journals such as The Lancet and the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, and is the recipient of awards, including the Young Investigator Award from the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease. He is a co-inventor on a patent for a device that remotely monitors mask adherence and patient infectiousness. He holds a PhD in Molecular and Cell Biology from UCT.

  • Dr Robyn Pickering is an isotope geochemist with an interest in palaeoanthropology and archaeology. Her postgraduate research at the University of the Witwatersrand is what kick-started her on-going work on the geology and dating of the caves in the Cradle of Humankind.

    Her desire to find a niche in her field led her to complete her PhD in Geochemistry at the University of Bern, Switzerland. There she had the opportunity to develop the U-Pb dating technique to date young carbonate rocks, specifically from the hominin cave sites of South Africa. She later accepted a Postdoctoral Research Fellowship at the University of Melbourne, Australia, where she continued to receive numerous prestigious awards.

  • Dr Katye Altieri’s research is multi-disciplinary and cuts across atmospheric chemistry, air-sea interactions and biogeochemistry. She completed her PhD in Oceanography at Rutgers University.

    Her graduate research on the chemistry of oligomer formation in cloud-processed secondary organic aerosol (SOA) earned her the 2008 Peter B. Wagner Memorial Award for Women in Atmospheric Sciences. She was also one of only three graduate students invited to a workshop investigating Anthropogenic Nitrogen Impacts on the Open Ocean, resulting in a highly cited paper in Science.

  • With her interest set in the field of environmental sciences, Dr Biggs’s dream is to draw on the skills and networks she has gained abroad to develop a world-leading social-ecological research centre in South Africa, that has a tangible impact on environmental policy and practice. Her core research focuses on developing an interactive online database and synthesis of socialecological regime shifts and their impacts on ecosystem services, which has provided for a wide variety of collaborations with international scientists and research centres, and has been used in several policy processes.