The National Research Foundation (NRF) has announced the recipients for top honours in the science and research field at the annual NRF Awards.
The NRF Awards celebrate leading researchers in their respective fields based on peer evaluation and according to international best practice. The work of these researchers is assessed for, among other things, their contribution to the field of study focusing on quality and impact.
The awards are also aimed at inspiring and encouraging the continued culture of advancing South Africa’s knowledge economy and technological innovativeness by rewarding those that make use of research for the advancement and betterment of humanity.
Dr Molapo Qhobela, CEO of the NRF, says: “The NRF awards recognise and celebrate the efforts of these outstanding women and men who, through their work, are advancing knowledge, transforming lives and inspiring a nation.
“These are the men and women whose work are helping transform South Africa into a knowledge intensive society where all derive equitable benefit from science and technology. They are crucial in achieving the NRF’s commitment to advancing science for societal benefit.”
The NRF Rating System, which is used to evaluate researchers, is a world respected benchmark based on peer reviews that assess the quality and impact of the work of researchers seeking an NRF rating. The annual NRF Awards, therefore, highlight and celebrate the work of those who, according to their peers, have distinguished themselves in their fields.
NRF Awards are two categories , ratings based ( A and P ratings) as well as special categories.
The special NRF Awards were presented to the following:
* Dr Bernard Fanaroff, special adviser and former director of the Square Kilometre Array South Africa(SKA-SA), the NRF Lifetime Achievement Award, which recognises the lifelong research achievements of individuals together with their impact on society. Dr Fanaroff was recognised for his scientific contribution; his activism as an anti-apartheid activist; his contribution as a public servant and as the Director of SKA-SA. In the latter role he successfully led the bid for South Africa to host the SKA and the design and construction of the Meerkat Telescope
* The Research Excellence Award for Next Generation Researchers went to Natalie Benjamin-Damons, Department of Physiotherapy, University of the Witwatersrand, and Edward Netherlands, Unit for Environmental Sciences and Management, North-West University, for outstanding academic performance in their final year as doctoral students.
* The Research Excellence Award for Early Career/Emerging Researchers, which recognises outstanding research excellence by current Thuthuka grantholders, was received by Professor Tricia Naicker, Discipline of Pharmaceutical Sciences University of KwaZulu-Natal, and Dr Mohlopheni Marakalala, Department of Pathology University of Cape Town.
* Professor Faizal Bux of the Institute for Water and Wastewater Technology, Durban University of Technology received the Champion of Research Capacity Development and Transformation at South African Higher Education Institutions. This award acknowledges individuals for their contributions to the transformation of South Africa’s science community and landscape. The aim of this award is to encourage and promote this activity across the South African research community.
* The Hamilton Naki Award was received by Professor Edmund February, Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Cape Town. The award is named after the self-taught surgeon who trained generations of medical students in surgical techniques, the Hamilton Naki Award honours individuals for achieving world-class research performance despite considerable challenges.
* The Excellence in Science Engagement Award recognised Dr Rehana Malgas-Enus from the Department of Chemistry and Polymer Science at Stellenbosch University for her outstanding contributions to public engagement with science. The aim of the award is to encourage academics to make their work, and science and technology in general, more accessible to the public.
* The Durban University of Technology walked away with the NRF Excelleration Award for achieving the most improved research performance over recent years as evaluated by independent parties, and measured against a selection of critical indicators.
P-Ratings Awards were awarded to four young and upcoming researchers (under 35 years of age) who have held a doctorate or equivalent qualification for less than five years at the time of application. These researchers are considered likely to become future international leaders in their respective fields, on the basis of exceptional potential demonstrated in research performance and output during doctoral and/or early post-doctoral careers.
The ratings were awarded to Dr Sarah Fawcett, Department of Oceanography, University of Cape Town; Dr Geoffrey Howarth, Department of Geological Sciences, University of Cape Town; Dr Gareth Hempson, Ndlovu Node at the South African Environmental Observation Network, and Dr Alistair Price, Department of Private Law, University of Cape Town.
A-rated researchers are those who have been recognised by their peers as leading international scholars in their respective fields, for the high quality and impact of recent research outputs. Acquiring an NRF rating generates considerable acknowledgement and respect for the individual researchers as well as their institutions.
The A rated Awardees for the NRF Awards 2018 are: