Top South African women scientists were honoured at the Women in Science Awards (WISA) ceremony in Johannesburg on Friday.

The Department of Science and Technology (DST) hosts these awards annually to reward outstanding female scientists and researchers, and encourage younger women to follow in their footsteps.

Prof Priscilla Baker- Winner in Distinguished Women Scientists Category in Physical and Engineering Sciences

Prof. Baker is currently employed as a professor of Chemistry at the University of the Western Cape. She is co-leader of SensorLab, an electrochemistry research group in the Department of Chemistry that focuses on the fundamental and applied electrodynamics of smart materials for sensors, energy devices, and environmental and health solutions. Her specialisation is in the application of frequency-modulated electrochemical techniques, notably electrochemical impedance spectroscopy (EIS) to the design and evaluation of electrochemical smart materials.

Dr Nosipho Moloto-Winner in Distinguished Young Women Scientists Category in Physical and Engineering Sciences

Dr Moloto obtained her PhD in Chemistry from the University of the Witwatersrand, where she is currently an academic and researcher. Dr Moloto's research career began while she was studying for an MSc at the University of Zululand. During her MSc studies she published three papers, won a number of student prizes and received a scholarship to do research work at the University of Manchester under Prof. Paul O'Brien, with whom she still collaborates.

Ms Lungile Sitole Awarded a Fellowship in the Doctoral Degree Category

Ms Sitole is currently studying for a PhD in Biochemistry at the University of Pretoria. She is researching the use of bioanalytical and biophysical techniques in the detection and identification of dysregulated metabolites in HIV infection. The potential output of this research is the discovery and development of novel markers that could be used as indicators of HIV disease progression, which could guide treatment response.

Ms Jinal Nomathemba Bhiman, awarded Fellowship in the Doctoral Degree Category

Ms Bhiman is a PhD student based at the HIV Research Laboratory of the National Institute for Communicable Diseases in Johannesburg.  Ms Bhiman was awarded a Columbia University-Southern African AIDS International Training/Research Program three-month Fogarty traineeship at the Vaccine Research Center of the US National Institutes of Health. Ms Bhiman presented her MSc findings at two international conferences, and her PhD project at the 2013 AIDS Vaccine conference. She co-authored an article related to her MSc studies in the high-impact journal Nature Medicine, as well as an article on aspects of her PhD project in Nature.

Ms Beverly Mmakatane Mampholo awarded Tata Scholarships in the category Doctoral Degree

Ms Mampholo is currently registered for a DTech in Agriculture at Tshwane University of Technology, researching the effect of nitrogen application on the postharvest quality of fresh-cut lettuce. Lettuce is well-known for accumulating nitrate in high quantities, which poses a threat to human health. Ms Mampholo is looking into the effect of nitrogen fertilisation on food safety and nutritional and overall quality linked to browning-related enzymes in selected fresh-cut lettuce cultivars during postharvest storage. Furthermore, minimising postharvest losses in perishable products like lettuce is an important part of the sustainable agricultural development efforts to increase food availability. Ms Mampholo has been trained in the aroma profiling of volatile compounds from fresh produce using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry.

Prof Genevieve Langdon: First Runner Up in the Distinguished Young Women Scientist

Prof. Langdon is currently Deputy Head of the Mechanical Engineering Department of the University of Cape Town. She  completed her PhD in Mechanical Engineering in 2003. Prof Langdon has  worked for two years as an 1851 Royal Commission Research Fellow at the Blast Impact and Survivability Research Unit before being appointed to the academic staff in 2006.

For the past 10 years Prof. Langdon has been developing and evaluating blast-resistant materials and structures for use in structural and transportation applications. Her research seeks to make the world a safer place by improving our understanding of how structures respond to explosion loading (which could occur owing to terrorism, landmine detonations or industrial accidents, for example).