The National Research Foundation was established as an independant government agency, through the National Research Foundation Act [Act No.23 of 1998].
The NRF receives its mandate from the National Research Foundation Act (Act No 23 of 1998, as amended). According to Section 3 of the Act, the object of the NRF is to contribute to national development by:
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CALL FOR APPLICATIONS FOR EVALUATION AND RATING – 2024
Announcement: Trans-Atlantic Platform (T-AP) call on Democracy, Governance and Trust (DGT)
Call for Applications: Globalink Research Award Thematic Call
DSI-NRF Postgraduate Student Funding for the 2024 Academic Year
Invitation for Nominations for Professional Development Programme (PDP) Postdoctoral Fellowships for 2023
2023 iThemba Labs Physics Summer School Call for Applications
Bi-annual Progress Reports: Postgraduate Scholarships 2022 – Mid-Year Reports
1ANNOUNCEMENT OF SUCCESSFUL APPLICATIONS FOR THE DSI-NRF FIRST-TIME GRANT HOLDER-LINKED MASTERS SCHOLARSHIPS FOR FUNDING IN 2024 ACADEMIC YEAR
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Africa’s leading research facility for accelerator based science. Probing fundamental structure and the origins of matter; Advancing the understanding of condensed matter; Impacting the Societal need through provision for the health and environmental sector
The iThemba Laboratory for Accelerator Based Sciences is the continents' biggest facility for particle and nuclear research.
The SAAO is a national facility of the NRF and the national centre for optical and infrared astronomy in South Africa.
SAEON is a national platform for detecting, translating and predicting environmental change.
SAIAB provides unique skills and infrastructure support in marine, estuarine and freshwater ecosystems research, molecular research, collections and bioinformatics.
SARAO is a national facility of the NRF and incorporates radio astronomy instruments and programmes such as MeerKAT and KAT-7 telescopes in the Karoo, (HartRAO) in Gauteng...
South Africa’s innovation revolution must assist in solving our society’s deep and pressing socio-economic challenges. Global competitiveness, shrinking resource availability, and the requirements of a skilled labour force mean that, increasingly, an awareness and understanding of why science and research are critical to our lives is essential for developing an innovation culture.
Within the next five years, the aim is to begin to more fully embed engagement in and with science in the core NRF missions of supporting and promoting new knowledge and growing new knowledge workers. This is led by the formulation of an acceptable NRF position on engaged research which will guide the NRF approach…
NRF | SAASTA is the NRF business division tasked with leading and coordinating the science engagement programme across the NRF and beyond. The NRF is equally committed to ensuring that the science engagement leadership and national coordination role…
The NRF provides leading-edge research infrastructure platforms that ensure that the national research enterprise has the requisite infrastructure to undertake globally competitive discovery science, train the next generation of researchers, support engagement with science by and with the public and promote innovation that positively impacts society, the environment, the economy.
The annual NRF Awards recognize and celebrate South African research excellence. The awards presented to researchers are in two categories, the ratings linked awards and special recognition awards.
The National Research Foundation (NRF) conducts its procurement of goods, services, and works in accordance with its Supply Chain Management Policy in a manner that is fair, equitable, transparent, competitive, and cost-effective
The National Research Foundation (NRF) is guided by its Supply Chain Management Policy in its procurement of goods and services. The Policy sets out the prescripts issued by National Treasury with the exact note referenced in the footnotes. The Supply Chain Management policy adheres to the National Treasury’s prescribed supply chain system framework.
The NRF’s Supply Chain Management Policy and the conduct of supply chain management at the NRF seeks to give effect to section 217 of the South African Constitution which requires that all procurement of goods and services must be done in a manner that is fair, equitable, transparent, competitive and cost-effective.
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August is Women’s Month, and this year the National Research Foundation (NRF) is celebrating the remarkable contributions that have been made by women researchers for the betterment of humanity. We thank all participants for sharing their stories with us.
Dr Ayanda Shabalala is a Senior Lecturer in Water Management at the University of Mpumalanga (UMP). She is an NRF Thuthuka grantholder and also received support under the NRF Black Academics Advancement Programme.
What impact did the NRF have on your studies/career?
In 2019, I was a recipient of the NRF Black Academic Advancement Programme sabbatical grant. The grant enabled me to take a year off from my work as a lecturer and focus on completing my doctoral research titled Development of Pervious Concrete Reactive Barrier for Remediation of Acid Mine Drainage. The fund was used for research running expenses, lecturer replacement and travelling costs as I regularly commuted between UMP and the University of Johannesburg (UJ) where I was registered for my Doctoral studies. The sabbatical provided me with uninterrupted time for research and an opportunity to enhance my knowledge and expertise in my field of research. Hence, I was able to graduate with a PhD in Civil Engineering in 2021.
In 2022, I was awarded the NRF Thuthuka grant to investigate the potential of a pervious concrete reactive barrier in treating polluted or acidic mine water and removing undesirable contaminants. The pervious concrete liner is proposed as an alternative treatment method for addressing the acid mine drainage problem in South Africa. The treatment system has been installed at UMP. The next step is to monitor its performance in removing targeted contaminants in the AMD as well as determining the life span of the treatment plant. The NRF Thuthuka funding has opened up opportunities for Honours and MSc students to be involved in the project, thus developing their capacity and competency in the field of water quality monitoring and wastewater treatment. One journal article has been published, proving insights into mechanisms governing the passive removal of inorganic contaminants from acid mine drainage using a permeable reactive barrier.
What has been your study/career journey?
I come from a small town with very limited opportunities for growth. As such, I didn’t have role models to look up to, especially in the field of science. I was fortunate enough to receive financial support through bursaries and scholarships for my education, from high school until my Doctorate.
I obtained my PhD in Civil Engineering from UJ; MSc in Water Resources Management from the University of Pretoria; Bachelor of Science Honours degree in Physical Chemistry from the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University; and a Bachelor of Science in Applied Chemistry degree from the University of KwaZulu-Natal.
I started my career in 2009 as a geohydrologist at the Council for Geoscience where my responsibilities included conducting laboratory and field parameter measurements, surface and groundwater monitoring, impact and risk assessment of contamination sites. In 2015, I joined the UMP as a lecturer in Water Management. I have since progressed to Senior Lecturer and programme leader for the Bachelor of Science in Environmental Sciences programme. It has been said that the next world war is likely to be fought over water, hence the importance of managing our water resources so that the current and future generations can benefit from them. I’ve decided to specialise in wastewater treatment with a specific focus on acid mine drainage and the potential utilisation of treated wastewater for beneficial uses such as irrigation.
What is your research focus on/what is your area of expertise?
Contaminated water flowing from abandoned mines is one of the most significant contributors to water pollution. The scale of the AMD problem in South Africa is enormous, arising from various mining initiatives, specifically the Witwatersrand goldfields; KwaZulu- Natal and Mpumalanga coal fields; and the O’Kiep Copper District in the Free State. This water is highly acidic and comprises high concentrations of metals, sulphates, salts, and radioactive material amongst other contaminants.
During the past eight years, I have conducted laboratory and field scale studies on the use of a pervious concrete reactive barrier system in the remediation of acid mine drainage. These studies have shown that the pervious concrete system is potentially novel, an effective wastewater treatment method and offers a promising alternative treatment method for polluted or acidic mine water. The outputs of this research work have been presented at conferences and resulted in the publication of seven articles in accredited journals.
Why is your research/work important?
Pervious concrete reactive barrier technology is characterised by low cost, low maintenance, no-energy use, user-friendliness and eco-friendliness. The technology can contribute to the restoration of a healthy and balanced ecological environment in mined areas by remediating contaminated soil and water resources.
The versatility of pervious concrete is anticipated to provide the technology for the reclamation of disused land due to mining which could potentially create a resurgence of farming and agriculture in such abandoned lands, potentially providing economic revitalisation.
This research has led to the development of the scientific capacity of staff and postgraduate students in the field of water treatment, water quality monitoring and wastewater management at UMP. Knowledge and understanding gained on methods, theory and application of concrete permeable barriers for long-term management of polluted mine water have been made available through publications in accredited and peer-reviewed journals and conference proceedings. Eight publications in accredited journals have come out of the current research.
I have also partnered with a community-based organisation affected by the AMD. Members of the organisation participated in the installation and monitoring of the pilot plant and were, therefore, capacitated in water treatment and water quality monitoring. The next step of my research is to further improve the treatment system (attenuation of the high sulphate and alkalinity in the treated water); make the technology accessible to the mining sector, government and private companies for large-scale implementation; and design low-cost household concrete filters that can be used in both rural and urban areas for domestic wastewater and greywater treatment.
There is still a long way to go to truly achieve equity and a sense of belonging for women, be it within the research community or society in general. How do you envision yourself contributing to this space?
Women in academia still face a number of challenges and have little presentation in the management structures of institutions of higher learning. I have made some strides in empowering females in academia through mentorship, supervision, and funding of tuition fees through my research grants. I’m currently supervising five female students who are doing their Master’s research projects. My role includes sharing my skills and knowledge, overseeing their work, and providing guidance, advice, feedback, and support. I involve them in all aspects of my work from running student practicals, assisting other postgraduate students with their research work, conducting fieldwork, writing research papers, and guiding them in their own professional and personal goals.
What advice do you have for girls who are interested in STEM-related careers?
Many strides have been made to attract girls into STEM-related careers. This is evident by an increasing number of female students studying towards science and engineering qualifications in institutions of higher learning. However, females remain under-represented in the leadership structures of industries and institutions of higher learning. Beyond getting the qualification, there is a need for leadership development among young professionals in order to boost their confidence in taking up leadership roles. Mentorship and support groups where women can converse on significant and current issues within their sector, share work experiences and advice, become aware of opportunities for their development at higher levels, and sharpen visibility to rise to top leadership will go a long way in empowering women in STEM-related careers. Early in their careers, women should invest in skills such as interpersonal skills, organisation, and leadership skills as this will increase opportunities for career advancement.
A number of studies have reported that female students are often more inclined to study in disciplines in which they perceive that they can help people, work with people and enact communal goals. Women are more likely to pursue careers in engineering and science when the work makes a social impact. In order to appeal to female engineers, institutions of higher learning should develop study programmes that focus on STEM but with a social context. Examples of such study programmes can include the development of technologies that improve the lives of people living in poverty, designing and building dams, water distribution systems, and water purification plants from low-cost and recyclable materials.
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