On the 2nd of November 2021, the National Research Foundation (NRF) hosted the prestigious celebration of South African research excellence; the NRF Awards.

The annual NRF Awards recognise recent outstanding achievements made by individuals and teams whose excellence has significantly advanced science for the benefit of society. Their internationally competitive work is assessed for, among other things, the contribution to the field of study focusing on quality and impact. One of the objectives of the awards is to encourage the continued culture of advancing South Africa’s scientific knowledge and technological innovation by rewarding those that make use of research for the advancement and betterment of humanity.

In her welcome address, Dr Nompumelelo Obokoh, Chairperson of the NRF Board said, “Amidst the despair and grief brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic are also many stories of selflessness, kindness and courage that continue to restore our faith in humanity and inspire us to dream of a better tomorrow. Even during this turbulent time, our researchers have continued to nurture the country’s knowledge economy in many other scientific fields as well.”

 

This year the NRF hosted a hybrid event with limited inperson guests in Pretoria and live-streamed to more than 500 virtual attendees. The ceremony celebrated 68 awardees across 10 categories.

Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, Dr Blade Nzimande graced the ceremony virtually to congratulate the awardees. “To illustrate our continued commitment to science, technology and innovation, the Department of Science and Innovation has developed a new policy framework on Science and Technology. The Decadal Plan on Science, Technology and Innovation will serve as an initial 10-year implementation plan from 2020-2030. To practically demonstrate our capacity as a government working together with the National System of Innovation, we have responded to the COVID-19 pandemic in line with the vision of the Decadal Plan. Our researchers committed their expertise and resources to developing solutions to the pandemic and monitoring its impact locally, but also contributing to the global body of knowledge”.

In his closing remarks, NRF Chief Executive Officer Dr Fulufhelo Nelwamondo also reflected on the progress made by scientists over the past few months: “The increasing challenges faced due to the COVID-19 outbreak as well as other societal challenges have not only underscored the importance of research in society, but also shone a very bright light on the ability of our scientists, both established and those just starting out on their research paths, to rise to the occasion. We have seen sterling work in a broad spectrum of areas including vaccine research, the development of diagnostics, monitoring and modelling of the spread of the pandemic, health policy research and science advocacy as well as improved opportunities for public engagement with science. In closing, a reminder to ourselves that Science remains the key to a reimagined, innovative future. Let us continue to do worthwhile work by advancing knowledge, transforming lives and inspiring a nation!”

The awards were presented as follows:

  • Research Excellence Award for Next Generation Researchers

2020

Dr Nkositetile Raphael Biata, Department of Chemical Sciences at the University of Johannesburg

Dr Alexandré Delport, School of Life Sciences at the University of KwaZulu-Natal

       2021

Dr Takudzwa Madzivanzira, Ichthyology and Fisheries Sciences at the NRF-South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity

Dr Neelakshi Mungra, Department of Integrative Biomedical Sciences at the University of Cape Town

Mr Emmanuel Tetteh, Department of Chemical Engineering at the Durban University of Technology

  • Research Excellence Award for Early Career/Emerging Researchers

2020

Dr Moses Basitere, Department of Chemical Engineering at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology

Dr Phiwayinkosi Vusi Dludla from the South African Medical Research Council

Professor Pragashnie Govender, School of Health Sciences at the University of KwaZulu-Natal

Dr Tebogo Pilgrene Mashifana, Department of Chemical Engineering at the University of Johannesburg

Professor Christopher Ouma, Department of English Language and Literature at the University of Cape Town

 

      2021

Professor Oluwafemi Adebo, Department of Biotechnology and Food Technology at the University of Johannesburg

Professor Shanade Barnabas, Department of Communication and Media at the University of Johannesburg

Dr Isobel Brink, Department of Civil Engineering at the Stellenbosch University

Professor Ntanganedzeni Mapholi, Department of Agriculture and Animal Health at the University of South Africa

Professor Nnamdi Nwulu, Department of Electrical & Electronic Engineering Science at the University of Johannesburg

Professor Moses Phooko, Department of Private Law at the University of Johannesburg

 

  • P-Rated Researchers:

2020                              

 

Dr Steven Hussey, Department of Biochemistry, Genetics and Microbiology, University of Pretoria

Dr Michelle Lochner, Department of Cosmology, African Institute for Mathematical Sciences, University of the Western Cape

 

2021                              

 

Dr Matteo Grilli, International Studies Group, University of the Free State

Dr Ryan Nefdt, Department of Philosophy, University of Cape Town

Dr Robert Skelton, Fynbos Node, NRF-South African Environmental Observation Network

Dr Nicholas Spaull, Department of Economics, Stellenbosch University

Dr Rosalie Tostevin, Department of Geological Sciences, University of Cape Town

Dr Christopher Trisos, African Climate and Development Initiative, University of Cape Town

 

  • Public Engagement with Research Award 2020/21

Professor Liesl Zühlke (2020), Department of Paediatrics and Child Health at the University of Cape Town

Professor Rachel Wynberg (2021), Department of Environmental and Geographical Science at the

University of Cape Town

 

  • Champion of Research Capacity Development and Transformation at South African Higher Education Institutions Award 2020/21

 

Professor Emmanuel Iwuoha (2020), Department of Chemistry at the University of the Western Cape

Professor Sabiha Essack (2021), Anti-Microbial Research Unit at the University of KwaZulu-Natal

 

  • Hamilton Naki Award 2020/21

 

Professor Sharon Prince, Department of Human Biology at the University of Cape Town

 

  • NRF Excelleration Award for South African Research Institutions 2020/21

 

Mangosuthu University of Technology

 

  • Science Team Award 2020

 

The Institute for the Development of Energy for African Sustainability (IDEAS) Team at the University of South Africa

 

  • Lifetime Achievement Award

 

Professor Linda Richter, University of the Witwatersrand

 

 

  • A-Rated Researchers:

 

Name

Designation

Institution

2020

 

Professor Willem Boshoff

1ST A-RATING

 

Department of Fine Arts

 

University of the Free State

 

Professor Colin Chapman

1ST A-RATING

 

School of Life Sciences

 

University of KwaZulu-Natal

 

Professor Dieter Heiss

 

1ST A-RATING

 

Department of Physics

 

Stellenbosch University

 

Professor Elmi Muller

1ST A-RATING

 

Dean: Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences

 

Stellenbosch University

 

Professor James Ogude

1ST A-RATING

 

Centre for the Advancement of Scholarship

 

University of Pretoria

 

Professor Mario Santos

1ST A-RATING

 

Department of Physics and Astronomy

 

University of the Western Cape

 

Professor Quarraisha Abdool Karim

2ND A-RATING

 

Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa

 

 

 

University of KwaZulu-Natal

 

Professor Fernando Albericio

2ND A-RATING

 

School of Chemistry and Physics

 

 

University of KwaZulu-Natal

 

Professor Tebello Nyokong

2ND A-RATING

 

Department of Chemistry

 

Rhodes University

 

 

Professor Brenda Wingfield

2ND A-RATING

 

Department of Biochemistry, Genetics and Microbiology

 

University of Pretoria

 

Professor Cornelius van der Merwe

3RD A-RATING

 

Department of Private Law

 

Stellenbosch University

2021

 

Professor Oonsie Biggs

1ST A-RATING

 

Centre for Complex Systems in Transition

 

Stellenbosch University

 

Professor Michael Bruford

1ST A-RATING

 

Department of Biochemistry, Genetics and Microbiology

 

University of Pretoria

 

Professor Michael Claeys

1ST A-RATING

 

Department of Chemical Engineering

 

University of Cape Town

 

Professor Kevin Durrheim

1ST A-RATING

 

School of Applied Human Sciences

 

University of KwaZulu-Natal

 

Professor Crain Soudien

1ST A-RATING

 

Former Chief Executive Officer

 

Human Sciences Research Council

 

Professor Giona Tuccini

 

1ST A-RATING

 

School of Languages and Literature

 

University of Cape Town

 

Professor Romeel Davé

2ND A-RATING

 

Department of Physics and Astrophysics

 

University of the Western Cape

 

Professor Andries Engelbrecht

2ND A-RATING

 

Department of Industrial Engineering / Department of Computer Science

 

Stellenbosch University

 

Professor Maxim Finkelstein

2ND A-RATING

 

Department of Mathematical Statistics and Actuarial Science

 

University of the Free State

 

Professor Christopher Henshilwood

2ND A-RATING

 

Evolutionary Studies Institute

 

University of the Witwatersrand

 

Professor Donald Kurtz

2ND A-RATING

 

Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences

 

North-West University

 

Professor Bruce Rubidge

2ND A-RATING

 

Centre of Excellence in Palaeosciences

 

University of the Witwatersrand

 

Professor Roger Smith

2ND A-RATING

 

Department of Geological Sciences

 

Iziko Museums of South Africa

 

Professor Yves van de Peer

2ND A-RATING

 

Department of Biochemistry, Genetics and Microbiology

 

University of Pretoria

 

Professor Melanie Walker

2ND A-RATING

 

SARChI Chair in Higher Education and Human Development Research

 

University of the Free State

 

Professor Robert Wilkinson

2ND A-RATING

 

Institute of Infectious Disease and Molecular Medicine

 

University of Cape Town

 

Professor Jill Farrant

3RD A-RATING

 

Department of Molecular and Cell Biology

 

University of Cape Town

 

Professor Michael Henning

3RD A-RATING

 

Department of Mathematics and Applied Mathematics

 

University of Johannesburg

 

Professor Steven Johnson

3RD A-RATING

 

School of Life Sciences

 

University of KwaZulu-Natal

 

Professor Rajend Mesthrie

3RD A-RATING

 

School of African and Gender Studies, Anthropology and Linguistics

 

University of Cape Town

 

Professor Bob Scholes

3RD A-RATING

 

Global Change and Sustainability Research Institute

 

University of the Witwatersrand

 

Professor Mark Solms

3RD A-RATING

 

Department of Psychology

 

University of Cape Town

 

 

Professor Johannes van Oort

3RD A-RATING

 

Department of Systematic and Historical Theology

 

University of Pretoria

 

Professor Charles van Onselen

4TH A-RATING

 

Institute for the Advancement of Scholarship

 

University of Pretoria

 

Professor Richard Cowling

5TH A-RATING

 

School of Environmental Sciences

 

Nelson Mandela University

 

Professor Jean Cleymans

8TH A-RATING

 

Department of Physics

 

University of Cape Town

 

Note: For further details on the 2021 NRF Awards, please click here.

 

Media Queries:

Candice Molefe
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NRF Corporate Communications
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