The Department of Science and Technology hosted its annual Women in Science Awards(WISA)last night in Sandton Johannesburg. Hosted by Minister of Science and Technology, Naledi Pandor the awards honored emerging scientists, established scientists and students.


The event was held under the theme, “Women’s empowerment in the changing world of work”.


Minister Pandor said WISA has become an important feature of our celebration of Women’s month. “It builds on the fanfare and the excitement generated by another significant event in the scientific calendar of our country, namely, the National Science Week (NSW), held in the first week of August. It builds a momentum that grows stronger each year,” said the Minister.


The awards were also attended y Minister of Higher Education, Blade Nzimande and Minister of Energy Minister of Energy, Mmamoloko Kubayi also attended the event. Dr Nolulamo Gwagwa, currently CEO of Lereko Investments, a black-owned investment company delivered the keynote address. Dr Gwagwa praised Minister Pandor for making sure the voices of women scientists were heard and their work celebrated.


She said the failure to recognize the important contribution that women can make to the economy would be detrimental. She urged the women scientists to continue working hard because they can ‘have it all,’ both professional and personal success.


The winners and runners-up won thousands off rands in prizes.


The winners were as follows:






1.            Prof. Colleen T Downs


Prof. Downs is currently a full professor of Zoology in the School of Life Sciences, and a University Fellow at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN), Pietermaritzburg campus. Downs is the South African Research Chairs Initiative chair in Ecosystem Health and Biodiversity at UKZN, with field laboratories in KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape. She obtained a PhD in Zoology from the University of Natal (now UKZN).


Downs is a terrestrial vertebrate biologist with broad and interdisciplinary research interests. These include conservation, ecology, physiology and the behaviour of terrestrial vertebrates in unpredictable environments and with changing land use. She is interested in how changing land use affects biodiversity and ecosystem health. Some of her work includes understanding the urban ecology of various species and their persistence. She has contributed to the understanding of the relationships between the physiology, behaviour and ecology of a range of southern African terrestrial vertebrates, including leopard tortoises, Nile Crocodiles, and various bird species and small mammals. She conducted research on the effects of changing land use and ecosystem health in KwaZulu-Natal with relevance to animals such as bushbucks, oribis, pelicans, Nile crocodiles, fruit bats, servals, genets, raptors and hadedas. Her work includes highlighting the plight of the Cape Parrot, South Africa's only endemic parrot and a threatened species.


Downs's research has been vital for conservation endeavours in South Africa. She has overseen and contributed to Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora listings, and more practical conservation programmes, including citizen science projects. Her research findings are used to inform protected area management and extension plans at provincial governmental level, and town planning and green space development at municipal level.


Another interest is science education, particularly problems experienced by biology students and the development of strategies to address such problems.


Downs is the author of over 264 international peer-reviewed publications and six book chapters. She has established a strong interdisciplinary research group at UKZN, and currently supervises 15 PhD and 16 MSc students, and mentors five postdoctoral fellows. She has successfully supervised 35 PhD and 46 MSc students. Downs has also supervised exchange students from Reunion Island, Konstanz, Johns Hopkins, Liverpool, and Amsterdam universities.



2.            Prof. Resia Pretorius


Prof. Pretorius is currently a full professor of Physiology at Stellenbosch University's Department of Physiological Sciences. Pretorius has a PhD in Biological Sciences from the University of Pretoria.


Pretorius is known for her use of a proactive strategic research agenda, primarily aimed at reducing the global burden of morbidity and mortality due to various inflammatory haematological, and pathological clotting complications. Her main research objective and major scientific achievement have been to create a vital mind shift in the understanding of inflammation by developing new approaches to studying the role of coagulation parameters in inflammatory diseases. She has developed rapid diagnostic methods for these purposes, with innovative ultrastructure and viscoelastic techniques that include confocal microscopy, scanning electron microscopy, atomic force microscopy and thromboelastography. Her novel diagnostic methodology with these instruments has led to the discovery of the role of a blood microbiome in inflammatory conditions, and the crucial association of pathological erythrocytes with bacteria. Recently, her research led to the discovery of the role of lipopolysaccharide, a membrane component from gram-negative bacteria, which is a potent inflammagen, and plays a crucial role in the development of conditions like type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease, and the pathological coagulation system in these conditions. This groundbreaking discovery has led to numerous publications in high impact factor journals and several press releases in publications such as Time magazine and the New Scientist.


Pretorius is a National Research Foundation-rated researcher with an h-index of 31. She is the author of over 240 peer-reviewed publications, including papers in The Lancet, Blood Reviews and several Nature publications, such as their Scientific Reports. She is the author of eight book chapters and has presented numerous peer-reviewed conference papers and invited talks. Pretorius has successfully supervised 40 MSc and PhD students, including many young students from previously disadvantaged communities, and currently supervises nine PhD students and one MSc student. She is on the editorial boards of seven journals and is currently the associate editor of The Journal of Alzheimer's Disease. Prof. Pretorius has been a regular reviewer for nearly 80 ISI journals and was the winner of the prestigious African Union Kwame Nkrumah Scientific Award in 2011 in the Women Scientist: Basic Science and Technology category.



3.            Prof. Alta Schutte


Prof. Schutte is full professor of Physiology and the South African Research Chair Initiative chair in the Early Detection and Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease in South Africa, which is hosted by the Hypertension in Africa Research Team (HART) at North-West University. Schutte is also the Director of the Medical Research Council's Extramural Unit for Hypertension and Cardiovascular Disease, and Vice President of the International Society of Hypertension.


Schutte's research focus is on gaining a better physiological understanding of the development of raised blood pressure, and ultimately the prevention of cardiovascular disease, in black South Africans. Schutte formally established HART as Founding Director in 2008, where she led some of the first prospective multidisciplinary studies in this field in Africa. Her findings on long-term contributors to hypertension development were used in policymakers' booklets for health ministries in Africa, as well as International Hypertension Practice Guidelines.


With a National Research Foundation B2 rating at the age of 40, Schutte is the author of nearly 200 peer-reviewed publications, including papers in leading medical journals such as The Lancet and the New England Journal of Medicine. She is a frequent keynote speaker for international audiences, and has received several national and international scientific awards. These include the 2016/17 National Science and Technology Forum TW Kambule Award, the World Academy of Sciences Sub-Saharan Africa Regional Young Scientist Prize, the Next Einstein Forum Fellowship Award, the Royal Society of South Africa Meiring Naudé Medal, and the Physiology Society of Southern Africa Excellence in Physiology Award. Schutte has successfully mentored seven postdoctoral fellows, supervised 13 PhD, 24 master's and 25 BSc honours students, and currently supervises nine PhD and four master's students.


A medical research scientist, registered with the Health Professions Council of South Africa, Schutte is a Fellow of the Royal Society of South Africa, and one of 20 founding members of the South African Young Academy of Sciences. She serves on the editorial board of established journals like the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, Journal of Human Hypertension, Current Hypertension Reports and Clinical Science.




4.            Prof. Azwihangwisi Helen Mavhandu-Mudzusi


Prof. Mavhandu-Mudzusi is currently a full professor in the Department of Health Studies at the University of South Africa (Unisa), and the Chairperson of the Research Ethics Review Committee of Unisa's College of Human Sciences. She has a PhD in Public Administration from the University of Venda.


Mavhandu-Mudzusi's main research objectives centre on reducing the number of new HIV infections, and improving the quality of life of people living with HIV in rural universities. Integral to these objectives is the work that she does in advocating for the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) students. She has developed an advocacy, care and support model for these students, and a management model for staff and students living with HIV. The implementation of these models has assisted in economically empowering both women living with HIV, and homosexual and gender nonconforming women in the changing world of the workplace.


With a National Research Foundation C3 rating, Mavhandu-Mudzusi is the author of 29 peer-reviewed publications, a book chapter and 23 peer-reviewed conference papers. She is involved in a multi-country and multi-university project on destabilising heteronormativity in Southern African Development Community institutions of higher education. She is the principal investigator in a collaborative cross-national research project with the University of Liège and Alliant International University on the attitudes of heterosexual university students towards same-sex marriage and parenting. Mavhandu-Mudzusi has successfully supervised three PhDs and 15 master's students, and is currently supervising 10 PhD and 10 master's students at Unisa, in addition to mentoring two doctoral students in the New Generation of Academics' Programme (nGAP), one at Sefako Makgatho University and the other at the University of Limpopo.


A professional nurse, registered with the South African Nursing Council, Mavhandu-Mudzusi is an MAC AIDS Fund Leadership Initiative Fellow. She was the guest editor for two journals, as well as a reviewer for several international and local journals and conferences.



5.            Prof. Venitha Pillay


Prof. Pillay is an associate professor in the Department of Educational Leadership and Management at the University of South Africa's College of Education. Previously, Pillay served at the University of Pretoria, and between 2013 and 2016 was simultaneously a short-term education consultant at the World Bank in Washington, DC. She completed her PhD in higher education institutional mergers at the University of Pretoria in 2003.


Pillay's first book, Academic Mothers (2007), argues that motherhood is a form of subjugated knowledge, and that academic mothers bear a responsibility for inserting motherhood into academic thinking. Prof. Pillay's second book, Academic Mothers in the Developing World: Stories from India, Brazil and South Africa (2017), which she co-authored with academics from these countries, focuses on power and powerlessness among academic mothers in these countries. In 2017, Pillay received a National Research Foundation (NRF) competitive grant for rated researchers. The grant covers a three-year study of women in higher education in South Africa and aims to understand how being a woman shapes scholarship. Her work also includes publications on what it means to be a black woman researcher in a developing country. Pillay's research conviction is underpinned by a key goal of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, and the National Development Plan of South Africa, namely that the educational empowerment of women is critical to global and national economic and social development.


With an NRF C2 rating, Pillay is the author of over 35 peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters. She served on the editorial board of the first feminist journal in South Africa, Agenda, for over 10 years. She was the project leader for the Women in Research programme at the Vaal University of Technology (2009 and 2010), through which six developing researchers achieved their first publications. Since 2009, Pillay has successfully supervised 12 PhD and four master's students. Her international reputation is evidenced by invitations from the Salzburg Global Seminar Series, the Next Generation Global Leader's Forum in Japan, and her work with international development agencies.


6.           Prof. Saloshna Vandeyar


Prof. Vandeyar is a full professor of Diversity in Education in the Faculty of Education at the University of Pretoria (UP), where she obtained a PhD in History of Education.


Vandeyar is a National Research Foundation C2 rated scientist and the winner of four international research awards, from the Venus International Foundation (2015), the Comparative and International Education Society (CIES) (2012), the American Educational Research Association (AERA) (2011), and the International BMW Award for Intercultural Education (2006). Vandeyar has won three national research awards, the National Science and Technology Forum (NSTF) Senior Black Researchers Award (2007), the Higher Education South Africa's Leadership and Management Fellowship (2013), and the Education Association of South Africa (EASA) Research Medal (2011). She was a finalist for the NSTF Lifetime Award (2014), and for the Shoprite Checkers Woman of the Year (2006). She has also won five institutional research awards from UP – the Laureate Award for Educational Innovation (2012), the Exceptional Young Researcher Award (2009), the Dean's Award for International Scholarship (2013), Gold Medal for Research, Excellence and Achievement (2009) and Research Perseverance (2002) – two community awards for research, and two merit awards for teacher professionalism and teaching excellence.


Her areas of specialisation encompass identities, race, social, cultural and cognitive justice education, diversity education, teacher professionalism, and immigrant studies, which directly relate to national and global socio-economic challenges of social cohesion. Vandeyar is a member of AERA, CIES and EASA, and serves on a number of editorial boards, including for the journals Early Childhood Development and Care (UK), Learning for Democracy (USA) and Perspectives in Education (SA), as well as editing a special issue of Power and Education (UK). Vandeyar has published 28 papers in international peer-reviewed journals, 12 papers in national journals, six scholarly books and 15 book chapters. Nine of her presentations have been published in conference proceedings. She has extensive international networks and is responsible for establishing the memorandum of understanding between UP and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She has presented many invited keynote addresses and delivered 35 conference presentations.


Vandeyar is the primary researcher of several funded projects, for example on good practice in culture-rich classrooms, immigrant identities (learners, teachers and academics) and capacity building for the management of learner pregnancy in schools. Her supervision spans eight completed and three current PhDs, eight completed and six current MEds (full research) and over 300 BEd Honours research reports. Most of her doctoral graduates are currently employed as academics at universities or Umalusi. She has established a strong multidisciplinary research group and is currently working towards establishing the Centre for Diversity in Education at UP.







7.            Prof. Genevieve Langdon


Prof. Langdon is currently full professor and Deputy Head of the Mechanical Engineering Department at the University of Cape Town (UCT). She obtained her PhD from the University of Liverpool in 2003 for work on the response of offshore structures to gas explosions.


Langdon has worked at UCT since 2004. Since her appointment, Langdon has successfully supervised more than 50 honours projects, 10 MSc students and three PhD students. Her current research interests are the blast protection of structures and the use of sustainable materials in explosion-resistant applications. Her work seeks to save lives through improved protection, and reduce the environmental impact of blast protection systems.


She has a C1 rating from the National Research Foundation and has co-authored more than 60 journal papers, in addition to numerous conference papers and book chapters. She has an h-index of 23 and has been cited more than 1 250 times. A founder member of the South African Young Academy of Science, Langdon has worked in outreach for the next generation of science learners. In 2014, she was awarded the Southern Africa Association for the Advancement of Science Silver Medal for outstanding research by a person under the age of 40.


Langdon is the Director of the Blast Impact and Survivability Research Unit. She is also a Chartered Engineer and member of the Institute of Mechanical Engineers. She is currently the secretary of the International Society of Impact Engineering, and serves on the editorial board of the International Journal of Impact Engineering.



8.            Prof. Tricia Naicker


Prof. Naicker is the University of KwaZulu-Natal's youngest associate professor in the College of Health Sciences, and the youngest Academic Leader/Head of Discipline for Pharmaceutical Sciences.


Naicker completed her PhD in an area (asymmetric organocatalysis) that that had not previously been explored in Africa. Naicker's fully published thesis and academic efforts won her the 2011 Department of Science and Technology Women in Science doctoral fellowship. Her research outputs earned her a prestigious Oppenheimer postdoctoral award, which she pursed at Aarhus University, Denmark, in 2012, under the guidance of the world-renowned Karl A Jørgensen (h-index 90). Naicker was the first candidate from the African continent to be accepted into this esteemed research facility.


She was appointed as a senior lecturer at University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) in 2013. Naicker's specialised expertise and pioneering in the field saw the highly ranked Catalysis and Peptide Research Unit at UKZN commence collaboration with her – the first woman to join their team. After a short time, Naicker has become a principle investigator in the unit and took over the leadership of the division for synthetic drug discovery. She has thus far secured more than R5 million in funding as main/co-applicant and has graduated 10 MSc and four PhD students as main/co-supervisor. She is currently supervising five MSc and three PhD students, and mentoring three postdoctoral fellows. Naicker currently has a remarkable 72 publications in international peer-reviewed journals. In addition, she serves as an editor for the South African Journal of Chemistry. She supports the mentoring of younger academics/postgraduates in active research by initiating collaborations (local and international) with emerging researchers and school learners.


Her current research interests are method development in the organic synthesis of biologically important intermediates/drugs in the field of antibacterials.
This work has led to a patent of innovative new molecules targeting drug-resistant bacteria, which are a serious global problem.



9.            Dr Philiswa Nosizo Nomngongo


Dr Nomngongo is currently a lecturer of Analytical Chemistry at the University of Johannesburg (UJ), where she obtained her PhD.


Nomngongo's main research objective is to develop and apply different sample preparation methods for the extraction and preconcentration of trace organic and inorganic analytes in different sample matrices prior to the chromatographic or spectrometric determination. Her research also focuses on the application of nanotechnology for environmental pollution monitoring, desalination and water treatment.


In 2014, Nomngongo received a L'Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science postdoctoral fellowship. She is author/co-author of two book chapters and 34 peer-reviewed articles (from 2011 to 2017) in highly rated and high impact factor journals, including TrAC (Trends in Analytical Chemistry), Chemical Engineering Journal, Analytica Chimica Acta, Microchimica Acta, Food Chemistry, Chemosphere and Talanta.


She served as a guest editor for the special issue of the International Journal of Analytical Chemistry, and as well as being a reviewer for several international and local journals and conference proceedings.


Although she has not been at UJ long, Nomngongo has successfully supervised or co-supervised six masters' students. She is currently the main supervisor of one BTech student, eight master's students and seven PhD students. She is also co-supervising two MTech students and five PhD students.


Nomngongo is a member of the South Africa Chemical Institute, the South African Spectroscopy Society, and the Organization for Women in Science for the Developing World.





10.         Prof. Roula Inglesi-Lotz


Prof. Inglesi-Lotz is an Associate Professor at the Department of Economics at the University of Pretoria (UP). She received a PhD in Economics from UP in 2011 with the help of a postgraduate fellowship from the Department of Economics and a three-year bursary from the South African National Energy Development Institute. The title of her doctoral thesis was "A sectoral benchmark-and-trade system to improve electricity efficiency in South Africa".


Her research interests include energy and environmental economics, economic growth and development, and applications of time series and panel data econometrics. With a National Research Foundation Y1 rating, Inglesi-Lotz is the author of over 40 peer-reviewed publications and two book chapters. She currently supervises four PhD, one MCom and four honours students, and has successfully supervised 12 MCom students, 10 of whom graduated cum laude. Inglesi-Lotz is currently responsible for a research methodology course, teaching honours students how to conduct research. She also developed the curriculum for and currently teaches the first course on Energy and Environmental Economics at master's level in the Department of Economics. The main purpose of the course is to educate postgraduate students on topics such as energy sustainability, energy decision-making, and the environmental impacts of electricity on the country's socio-economic conditions.


A fellow of the International Association for Energy Economics and the Economic Society of South Africa, Inglesi-Lotz is on the editorial panel of the Journal of Energy of Southern Africa, as well as a reviewer for several top international energy journals such as Energy Policy, Energy Economics and Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews.


Inglesi-Lotz received the Junior Researcher of the Year award from the Department of Economics at UP in 2011, 2013 and 2014. In 2014 she also won the Junior Researcher of the Year award from the Economic and Management Science Faculty at UP, and an Exceptional Young Researcher award from UP. In 2016, Inglesi-Lotz received the Economic and Management Science Faculty Senior Researcher of the Year award.



11.         Dr Nomusa Makhubu


Dr Makhubu is a senior lecturer of Art History at the University of Cape Town's Michaelis School of Fine Art, and has a PhD in Art History from Rhodes University.


Makhubu's research focuses on art interventionism, popular culture and social engagement in African visual art. Recognising the need for broader creative mentorship, collaborative practice and socially responsive arts pedagogy, her research is aimed at developing mechanisms for incorporating socially engaged curricula in the creative arts. The research explores public artworks that pose critical questions about the political role of art as means of mediating gender, race and class in African contexts, and seeks to facilitate active transnational collaboration through workshops and creative interventions.


With a National Research Foundation Y1 rating, Makhubu has authored nine journal articles (seven in international journals and two in local ones), three book chapters, 22 conference papers and two keynote speeches. Her artworks have been shown at 51 exhibitions. She currently has articles accepted by three journals – Third Text, Journal of Contemporary African Studies and Journal of Postcolonial Writing. Makhubu co-edited a special issue of Third Text in 2013 and is currently working on a book manuscript. She has been a reviewer for international and local journals like Africa Today, IKON: Journal of Iconographic Studies, the Journal of Contemporary African Studies, and Social Dynamics and is on the editorial board of the Oyasaf Journal of Art. Makhubu has successfully supervised four master's students, and is currently supervising three master's and two PhD students.


Makhubu is a member of the South African Young Academy of Science and the College Art Association International Committee, the chair of the Africa South Art Initiative, and a member of the research team for Comparing "WE's": Cosmopolitanism, Emancipation, Postcoloniality at Lisbon University's Centre for Comparative Studies. She is also a member of the South African Young Academy of Science, and a fellow of the American Council of Learned Societies. She was an Omooba Yemisi Adedoyin Shyllon Art Foundation Research Fellow in 2010, an African Studies Association Presidential Fellow in 2016, and an Institute for Creative Art Writing Fellow in 2017. Makhubu is an alumna of the College Art Association-Getty International Program. She teaches in the Stanford University Bing Overseas Studies Program. She will start a Harvard- University of Cape Town Mandela Fellowship tenure in August 2017.



Research and Innovation




12.         Prof. Henriëtta L de Kock


Prof. De Kock is an associate professor of Food Science at the University of Pretoria (UP), where she obtained a PhD.


De Kock's research focuses on the optimisation of the sensory properties of food and beverages that contribute to the nutrition status and well-being of consumers in sub-Saharan Africa. This includes food product development and business creation to meet the demands of a growing and more urbanised African population, the exploration of the sensory experiences provided by Africa's biodiverse food sources, and the manufacture of products that are not only nutritionally adequate, but also appealing and appetising. De Kock collaborates with an extensive network of researchers in South Africa and abroad.


With a National Research Foundation C2 rating, De Kock is a co-author of 40 publications in international peer-reviewed journals, three book chapters and more than 100 conference presentations, including four keynote papers she was invited to present at international conferences. She holds one registered patent. De Kock has established a strong multidisciplinary research group at UP, and currently supervises/co-supervises 13 PhD and six MSc students, and mentors one junior researcher/lecturer. She has successfully supervised/co-supervised nine PhD and 25 MSc students, as well as mentoring two postdoctoral fellows and an African Women in Agricultural Research and Development Fellow. Most of the postgraduates are women who continue to make a difference as academics, scientists and entrepreneurs. She also supervised three exchange students from the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (BOKU) in Austria, the École de Biologie Industrielle in France, and Friedrich-Schiller University in Germany.


De Kock serves on the scientific committees of several international conferences. She is the current research chair of the European Sensory Network and serves on the board of the Bakery and Food Technology Incubator Centre of South Africa. She is a reviewer for several international journals, including Food Quality and Preference, the Journal of Cereal Science, Food Science and Technology, and Food Chemistry.





13.         Dr Tiisetso Lephoto


Dr Lephoto obtained her PhD in Molecular and Cell Biology from the University of the Witwatersrand in February 2016, focusing on microbiology, biotechnology, genomics, nematology and bioinformatics. Lephoto is a member of the Golden Key International Honour Society, and a One Young World Ambassador.


For her PhD research, Lephoto isolated novel insect-killing nematodes (entomopathogenic nematodes), and analysed and annotated whole genomes of these and their endosymbiotic bacteria. Her current postdoctoral research, which she is continuing at the University of the Witwatersrand, is aimed at increasing the knowledge of the molecular genetics and biochemical mechanisms underlying the dynamics associated with the insect-killing nematodes. The research also aims to investigate nematode product formulation strategies, which is critical for the in vitro production and application of the nematodes. The ultimate aim is to create a biological control agent that will reduce the use of synthetic chemical pesticides in farms and agricultural industries.


Lephoto has published three papers in international journals and has presented her research at national and international conferences, including the Agricultural Bioscience International Conference in Australia (2015). Lephoto has supervised four honours students, and is currently supervising five master's and three honours students.


In 2016, Lephoto was selected as one of 87 women in the world who participated in the TechWomen Emerging Leaders Program in the USA. During the programme, she was professionally mentored as a consultant in the informatics department of Illumina Inc. in California. Lephoto is the Chief Operations Officer of the GoMaths Foundation, the Secretary of Katleho Pele Education, a mentoring and tutoring non-profit organisation (NPO), and the founder of Tii Moves (nutritional advice and physical training), and the NPO "Yes we are moving".


Lephoto was selected for the Mail & Guardian's annual 200 Young South Africans supplement in 2017, the Youth Village 100 Young Inspirational Men and Women in South Africa (2017), and the Top 20 Inspirational Youth in South Africa (2015). She won the Biotech Fundi Best Researcher Award (2017), the National Research Foundation-Green Fund postdoctoral forum award (2016), the Best Young Researcher Award at the Agricultural Research Symposium (in 2015 and 2016), the Best New and Upcoming Researcher Award from the Gauteng Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (2014), the Falling Walls Lab Science Award (second place) (2013), and National Research Foundation scholarships.






14.        Ms Keneilwe Hlahane


Ms Hlahane obtained a BSc in Geology from the University of KwaZulu-Natal, followed by a BSc Honours in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) at the University of Cape Town, where she is currently enrolled for an MSc in GIS and Remote Sensing.


Her MSc research is part of the Earth Observation National Eutrophication Monitoring Project, which is led by CyanoLakes (Pty) Ltd and funded by the Water Research Commission (WRC). Hlahane's master's project focuses on monitoring eutrophication using GIS and satellite remote sensing in the Vaal River. Eutrophication is a leading cause of water pollution in freshwater and coastal marine ecosystems. Her research is important because it aims to find new methods of studying the water quality in rivers using data obtained from remote sensing satellites. Hlahane has presented the preliminary results of her MSc dissertation to the Rand Water Board and the WRC. She also assisted as a GIS intern in a project assessing the acid mine drainage pollution at Tweelopiesspruit on the West Rand.


Hlahane won the 2017 Esri Young Scholar Award for South Africa, and presented her research at the Esri International User Conference in San Diego.


Hlahane contributed to a book chapter entitled Management and Mitigation of Acid Mine Drainage. Hlahane's article "Every drop counts: watching water from space" was published in Science Today, after being selected as part of a postgraduate science writing competition in 2016.


The International Alliance of Research Universities awarded her a scholarship to participate in a summer school on sustainable water management in Africa in 2016. Hlahane also received a student conference scholarship to present her MSc work at the International Symposium of Remote Sensing of the Environment in South Africa in May 2017.



15.        Ms Dorcas Lekganyane


Ms Lekganyane obtained a BSc Honours in Botany from the University of Johannesburg in 2015, and is currently enrolled at the university for an MSc specialising in molecular systematics and DNA barcoding.


Her research interest is using DNA barcoding to aid in rapidly identifying and describing new or existing species to better understand South Africa's rich biodiversity. This research addresses one of the major threats to biodiversity, the illegal trade of protected and threatened species, together with overharvesting of wild plants for local medicinal markets, which results in noticeable levels of species depletion.


Lekganyane's study focuses on evaluating the authenticity and conservation status of traded medicinal plant products at "muthi" markets in South Africa. Preliminary results of her study have been described as exciting by her peers, and are in alignment with the World Health Organization Regional Committee for Africa's call to develop herbal pharmacopoeias as well as applying scientific criteria to prove the safety and efficacy of medicinal plant products.


Lekganyane has been awarded numerous accolades over the past few years. In 2015, she won the Office of Research Grand Prize for the best oral presentation by a student at the 6th International Barcode of Life conference hosted by the University of Guelph, Canada. Her work was published in the project's Barcode Bulletin. In 2016, she won the prize for the best MSc presentation at the Southern African Society for Systematic Biology conference at the University of the Free State. In 2017, at the South African Association of Botanist (SAAB) conference, she received an award for the best MSc oral presentation along with Best Young Scientist Award (best oral paper delivered by a young botanist under the age of 30), which gives her the opportunity to make a presentation at SAAB 2018.



16.         Ms Palesa Mgaga


Ms Mgaga has a BSc Honours in Environmental Sciences from the University of the Witwatersrand, where she is completing an MSc in Environmental Sciences under the supervision of Prof. Mary Scholes. Her coursework was focused on interdisciplinary modules that cover key problematic areas and methodologies, as well as applied problem-solving and system-thinking approaches to understand the complex issues associated with global change.


Her research is part of a bigger project on global forestry education, with a focus on tertiary level education. The project is conducted on each continent, and South Africa is one of the countries participating on behalf of Africa. The purpose of the research is to provide a national baseline study that will increase the understanding of South Africa's forestry education system to assess whether the needs of the sector are being met. In addition, the research explores the challenges and opportunities in forestry education and the forestry profession in South Africa. The project will provide an opportunity for South Africa to contribute towards Africa's participation in this global effort of forest preservation.


Mgaga is a recipient of the Wits Postgraduate Merit Award (master's level), the International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO) Student Grant, and a South African Research Chairs Initiative bursary.


She was selected to make oral presentations at the 7th Forest Science Symposium in Pietermaritzburg in July 2017 and at IUFRO's 125th Anniversary Congress in Freiburg, Germany, in September 2017.



17.         Ms Dimpho Takane


Ms Takane obtained a BA Politics, Philosophy and Economics (2015) and a BA Honours in Philosophy cum laude (2016) from the University of Johannesburg (UJ). She is currently enrolled for a Master's in Philosophy at the same institution, working in African philosophy, with a focus on African feminism.


In her current research, Takane embarks on a project to decolonise "gender". Unlike most contemporary African feminists, who are trying to eradicate gender oppression using an already constructed Western feminism approach, Takane tries to locate a precolonial African conception of gender, which she thinks should be the basis of African feminism, shaping and informing the struggle of African feminists. Takane hopes that her research will help Africans (particularly women) to acknowledge their worth and realise the extent to which the patriarchal systems of colonialism have recreated and reinterpreted the meaning and purpose of African cultures.


Takane was named the best Philosophy honours student at UJ in 2016. She is a beneficiary of the Global Excellence Scholarship, and organised a discussion session between UJ philosophy postgraduates and former President Thabo Mbeki.


She has had the opportunity to present her research at several conferences, including a UJ postgraduate symposium (October 2016), the University of Cape Town's postgraduate conference on African philosophy (August 2016), and the "Decolonising Feminism" conference organised by the Wits Centre for Diversity Studies (August 2016).





18.         Ms Jacqueline Moodley


Ms Moodley obtained a BSc Honours in Psychology in 2009 and an MSc in Research Psychology in 2013, both from the University of Johannesburg, where she is currently enrolled for a PhD in Development Studies.


Moodley is particularly interested in children with disabilities in South African. This marginalised section of society has a poorer health status and reduced access to schooling, as well as being prone to abuse and neglect.  While current measures of multiple deprivation for children are powerful advocacy tools, they often mask the needs of children with disabilities. Moodley's study will therefore contribute to the creation of a new index to monitor and track the quality of life of these children. The index will be guided by the Human Capability Framework, pioneered by Amartya Sen, and will seek to include aspects such as access to services, economic security, protection from violence, and the levels of care provided for children with disabilities.


Moodley has published and/or contributed to eight journal articles and three book chapters on various social development research themes, including disability, well-being and mental health.


She was awarded a visiting scholarship to the University of Chicago in 2016. In 2017, she was invited to join the Global Research on Disability and Inclusion team based at Washington University in St Louis. Moodley holds a professional registration as a Research Psychologist with the Health Professions Council of South Africa, and is a member of the international Human Development and Capability Association.



19.         Ms Valentine Saasa


Ms Saasa obtained a BSc Honours in Biochemistry in 2012 at the University of Limpopo, where she specialised in medicinal plant extraction for diabetes mellitus management. In 2016, she received an MSc in Biochemistry cum laude from the University of Johannesburg, with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) as a sponsor. Her master's project was aimed at developing a technology to allow diabetic patients to check their glucose levels without using needles. She is currently enrolled for a PhD in Biochemistry at the University of Pretoria and is doing her research project at the CSIR.


Saasa's PhD research focuses on screening different nanomaterials for their potential use in the non-invasive diagnosis and monitoring of diseases such diabetes mellitus and cancer. She hopes to replace the current methods for diagnosing diabetes and monitoring the blood glucose of diabetic patients, which involves the use of blood tests that can accidentally infect patients with other diseases, especially in South Africa where HIV is a prevalent blood-borne illness. Saasa is also interested in making sure that patients monitor their disease by providing a cost-effective and pain-free device, which requires only breath to measure glucose levels.


She has published articles in the Journal of Diabetes Science and Technology (in press) and articles and a book chapter in Sensors and Transducers, and her presentation on the "Detection of acetone in diabetes mellitus using gas chromatography mass spectrometry and tungsten oxide" was published in conference proceedings. Saasa presented her work in the area of nanotechnology for the development of sensors for disease detection. She has co-authored one technology demonstration titled, "Development and calibration of breath analyser device for diabetics, liver failure and kidney failure."


Saasa has been interviewed on several radio stations about her innovative research. She was one of five young South African women researchers chosen by the British Council and the Academy of Science of South Africa to attend a Best Practice in Science Communication UK study tour in 2016. This was the culmination of the Women in Science project, part of the British Council's Professional Development and Engagement programme under the UK-SA Newton Fund.



20.         Ms Andi Wilson


Ms Wilson completed a BSc in Human Genetics in 2012, a BSc Honours in Genetics in 2013 and an MSc in Genetics in 2015, all at the University of Pretoria. She is enrolled for a PhD in Genetics at the same institution.


From early on in her postgraduate career, Wilson has worked on the genetic systems governing sexual reproduction in a group of fungal plant pathogens. Her PhD research focuses on elucidating the mechanisms that allow for unisexuality (a unique type of sexual reproduction) to take place. Described in only a few species thus far, unisexual reproduction is the term given to mating involving a single individual that takes place despite the absence of essential genes. Understanding reproduction and how species are able to spread provides us with a means of targeting pathogens, and thereby a way to prevent disease outbreaks.


Wilson has been the first author of two publications, and has contributed to another three. These articles have been on her work in understanding unisexual reproduction and self-fertility, as well as genome sequencing and assembly. She has also attended and presented at a number of national conferences, as well as at the 2017 Fungal Genetics Conference, held in America. In 2016, the Forestry and Agricultural Biotechnology Institute, based at the University of Pretoria, gave Wilson an award for Best MSc Student and a Mentorship Award.


In 2017, she spent two months at Pennsylvania State University on a research visit to develop a transformation protocol for the group of fungi she studies.





21.         Ms Nomabhongo Masana


Ms Masana has a national diploma (2013) and a BTech (2014) in Information Technology from the Central University of Technology (CUT). Masana is currently enrolled for a master's in Information Technology under the Distributed Networks and Systems Group at CUT.


Masana's interest is in cloud computing, the offers and benefits provided by this emerging technology, and how it can be incorporated into the health sector to improve the quality of health care services and medical research. Her study proposes an integrated cloud-based electronic medical record (EMR) system, which can be adopted to address challenges with paper-based medical records and the quality of health care. The aim is to do this by integrating the various existing EMR system into one central data storage space in the cloud in order to facilitate the storage and sharing of medical data. Masana's study will develop and present a framework which can be used in the Free State for the adoption of an integrated cloud-based EMR system, addressing the technological, organisational and environmental factors that may influence the adoption of the proposed system in the context of the province's health care system.


Masana has published two peer-reviewed papers on the adoption of cloud-based EMR systems, one in an internal CUT journal (Interim in 2016), and another at a conference in 2017. She was awarded a National Research Foundation Innovation Master's Scholarship for 2017, and a CUT research grant for 2016 and 2017 to complete her master's degree.



22.         Ms Yonela Aziwe Mgwebi


Ms Mgwebi obtained a BSc Honours in Metallurgy and Materials Engineering from the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) in 2014, where she is currently enrolled for an MSc Metallurgy and Materials Engineering, specialising in high temperature corrosion.


Mgwebi is fascinated by the materials used in energy generation in petrochemical, steel production and chemical industries, particularly their high temperature applications; the corrosion of these materials results in large economic losses and may result in unhealthy working environments. Her research project addresses a serious need in South Africa and internationally for materials that may be used in energy generation. It looks at the development of cost-effective materials coating to improve the lifespan of these materials. Mgwebi's study will present an important application of South African-mined minerals such as ruthenium and copper in high temperature corrosion coatings, with the ultimate aim of reducing the cost of producing energy, steel and other products to improve access and affordability.


Mgwebi has published one journal paper and made presentations at three conferences, including the European Corrosion Congress in 2016. She was the best student presenter at the 2016 African Corrosion Congress in July, third best speaker in the Faculty of Engineering at the 7th Wits Postgraduate Cross-Faculty Symposium, and third in South Africa in the 2016 Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining's Young Person's Lecture Competition. She was the recipient of the 2015/16 Corrosion Institute of South Africa's Ivan Ogilvie Research Scholarship.


Mgwebi has been the Acting Chairperson, Treasurer and Secretary-General of the Wits Postgraduate Association, and is a founding member and director of the all-woman engineering start-up, Cinga Forensic Engineering.



23.         Ms Emily Muller


Ms Muller obtained a BSc Honours in Mathematics with First Class Honours from Southampton University in 2014. She pursued further studies at the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) in Cape Town, obtaining an MSc in Mathematics cum laude in June 2017. She will continue her research master's at AIMS in 2018.


Muller is an applied mathematician with a keen interest in modelling human behaviours using networks. Her research aims to determine the influence of dynamic social network structures on particular outcomes, for example, how students' social networks influence their academic performance. Her work will amalgamate data science and social sciences to ultimately build predictive models for human behaviours. Muller's work will present various applications for optimising organisational structures.


Alongside her academic work, Muller has worked in the actuarial profession for two years. She is currently contracted to the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research in Pretoria, using data science to solve real-world challenges facing the nation.


She was awarded the Victor Rothschild Scholarship for her MSc studies at AIMS. Muller is passionate about outreach and science communication, and is a member of the AIMS South African Women in Mathematical Sciences Foundation, which aims to encourage the involvement and retention of women in this field. Muller was involved in coordinating AIMS National Science Week (NSW) activities in August 2017, and will present her research as a poster as part of an NSW exhibition.





24.         Ms Marilize Everts


Ms Everts obtained a BEng in Mechanical Engineering with a distinction in 2012, and was not only the top mechanical engineering student, but also the top student in the School of Engineering at the University of Pretoria.


Everts received the Open Category University Award at the Eskom Chairman's Awards, as the best final year engineering student in the country. In 2013, Everts finished her BEng (Hons) in Mechanical Engineering with an average of 90% and in 2014, she obtained 99% for her MEng in Mechanical Engineering. With each one of the three degrees she completed, Everts was the top student. In 2015, she received the Southern Africa Association for the Advancement of Science medal for the most outstanding research student in a scientific subject graduating at master's level at the University of Pretoria.


Everts is currently enrolled for a PhD in the Department of Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering at the University of Pretoria. Her research is on single-phase mixed convection of developing flow in the laminar, transitional, low-Reynolds-number end and turbulent flow regimes. This is fundamental work to address the gap between laminar and turbulent flow, as well as to understand the fundamentals of mixed convection. This will enable engineers to better optimise heat transfer equipment used in the generation of energy, which is a major challenge internationally, but a crisis in South Africa.


She has submitted four journal articles for publication, presented 10 papers at conferences (seven at international conferences), and co-authored a keynote paper with her supervisor.



25.         Ms Loretta Magagula


Ms Magagula obtained a BSc in Biochemistry, Molecular and Cellular Biology, and Physiology at the University of the Witwatersrand, a BSc Hons in Biotechnology at the University of Pretoria, and an MSc in Clinical Science and Immunology at the University of Cape Town. She is currently pursuing a PhD in Chemical Biology at the University of Cape Town as part of the Biomedical Translational Research Initiative. Her project focuses on identifying and visualising specific breast and colorectal cancer-causing mutations in the South African population in a field that is almost entirely dominated by Eurocentric data.


Magagula has been awarded several fellowships and studentships from reputable local and international organisations, including the Allan Gray Orbis Foundation, the Council for of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), the Carl Zeiss Foundation, the National Research Foundation, the Institut Pasteur and the European Bioinformatics Institute. Among other awards, she received the Most Innovative Business Idea award from E-Squared in 2014 and Best Master's Student of the Year 2016 from the CSIR. Magugula has had tenures at several reputable local and international laboratories and universities, where she has obtained and applied her molecular, cellular, microscopy and bioinformatics skills. She has published and contributed to three peer-reviewed articles and a book chapter in the areas of transcriptomics and genomic architecture.


Outside of her academic career, Magagula co-founded a medical diagnostics start-up, Incitech, with three other talented young black women. Incitech has been awarded seed capital endowments from E-Squared and the Cape Craft and Design Institute Design Seed Innovation Fund, towards creating a prototype of her provisionally patented flagship easy-to-use HIV self-test.


She has also volunteered her time to the Association of Allan Gray Fellows Executive Leadership Portfolio, where she has organised events and programmes supporting the leadership development of her peers and the education of young South Africans.



26.         Ms Funeka Nkosi


Ms Nkosi is a PhD student at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), registered with the University of the Witwatersrand. She has a BSc (2012) and BSc Honours in Applied Chemistry (2013), both from the University of the Witwatersrand, and graduated from the University of Pretoria in 2015 with an MSc Chemistry cum laude.


Nkosi's PhD studies are aimed at improving the performance of lithium-ion batteries. These batteries are used in mobile phones, laptops, cameras and electric cars. Her PhD is focused on manganese oxide-based battery materials such as lithium manganese nickel cobalt aluminium oxide, and lithium manganese oxide cathode materials, as they are cheap, easy to prepare and perform well. This research is inspired by the abundance of manganese in South Africa.


Nkosi won the CSIR master's degree student excellence award in 2016. She has a patent on the strategic deployment of microwave irradiation to solve the problem of capacity fade in lithium manganese oxide spinel cathode materials and has published four research papers in international peer-reviewed journals. Nkosi has presented her research at national and international conferences. She won awards for her presentations at the 5th CSIR Emerging Researchers' Symposium and at the Department of Science and Technology-National Research Foundation Nanotechnology Symposium. She has also visited universities abroad to broaden her research experience.


In 2016, she was a semi-finalist in the FameLab competition, and won the Science Today postgraduate science writing competition. In 2017, she was selected as one of the young scientists to represent South Africa at the prestigious 67th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting in Germany, and was recognised in the Mail & Guardian's annual 200 Young South Africans supplement.