The NRF provides funding to postgraduate students in order to address the skills shortages in the fields of science, engineering and technology and humanities and social sciences. One of the aims is to increase the chances of retaining suitably qualified young scientists, and thus increasing the pool of researchers and knowledge workers in the NSI. This award recognises outstanding academic performance by final year doctoral students.
Described as a pioneer in the use of social media and other communication platforms to promote public understanding of science, Professor Lee Berger has built an unequalled reputation as both a scientists and communicator.
His work in the area of palaeoanthropology has garnered world renown, particularly with his team’s work on the hominid fossil discoveries of Australopithecus sediba and Homo naledi and the Rising Star Expedition. His commitment to making his work accessible to ordinary people, particularly in encouraging girls to take up STEM subjects at school and at tertiary level, has helped to lift the veil of mystery around science and its impact on society.
With a series of lectures with titles such as “Talking Crap: Using Dung Beetles as Agents of Discovery”, and a TED talk entitled “Dance of the Dung Beetle”, you would be right in thinking that Professor Byrne has made insects, particularly African dung beetles, the focus of his research. However, bringing his science to the public in an engaging and captivating way that is easy to understand, is another passion of his.