Home » NRF Awards » Research Excellence Award for Early Career / Emerging Researchers

The Thuthuka funding instrument is central to the NRF’s Human Capital Development strategy in as far as it relates to enhancing the research stature of Early Career / Emerging Researchers from designated groups, with the aim of redressing historical imbalances in the South African researcher cohort. This award recognises outstanding research excellence by current Thuthuka grantholders.

  • Professor Moloto’s research involves syntheses and characterisation of various types of semiconductor nanostructures and their application in solar cells, gas sensors and as biolabels for early diagnostics of diseases.

    Professor Moloto completed her PhD in 2011 and is currently the vice-chairperson of the South African Solar Energy Association. She is passionate about fostering a love for science among youngsters. She serves her community by providing career guidance to high school learners; conducting chemistry experiments for pupils in rural Zululand; and performing duties as a content specialist and adjudicator for the South African Agency for Science and Technology Advancement (SAASTA) School Debates. She is also one of the founders of the Nanosciences Young Researcher's Symposium.

  • Professor Mark Engel’s expertise is in epidemiology and evidence-based medicine research methods. Following postgraduate qualifications in Human Genetics and Public Health, he received his PhD in 2013, where he conducted prevalence studies of asymptomatic rheumatic heart disease and sore throat among school children in peri-urban Cape Town.

    His research includes all aspects of rheumatic heart disease, with particular interest in Group A Streptococcus (GAS), the organism involved in disease development.  Recently, he established AFROStrep, Africa's first registry and biorepository for GAS to document the occurrence of infection and to provide a platform for training and research across the continent. He has published 44 articles, and his work on the molecular epidemiology of Group A Streptococcus pharyngitis in South Africa has contributed to collaborative efforts to developing a vaccine for GAS with colleagues in Tennessee, USA.

  • With cardiovascular disease a leading cause of death throughout the world, Dr Ntusi’s research focuses on achieving a better understanding of pathophysiology and treatment of heart disease common among Africans. He was named one of 200 Most Influential Young South Africans by the Mail and Guardian in 2011. 

  • Dr Davids’ interests include democratic citizenship education, Islamic education and ethics in education, with a particular focus on educational policy, gender, theory and practice, management and leadership inquiry. She has received the Rector’s Award for General Performance, and the Mellon Academic Staff Development Award.