Prof Sanushka Naidoo, current chairperson of the Next Einstein Forum’s (NEF) Community of Scientists has been appointed as the Head of the Department of Biochemistry, Genetics and Microbiology (BGM) at the University of Pretoria from 1 October 2020.
She heads the Eucalyptus and Pine Pathogen Interactions group and works closely with the Forest Molecular Genetics Programme, part of UP’s Forestry and Agricultural Biotechnology Institute (FABI). Prof Naidoo joined the University in 2006 as a Microarray Scientific Officer and is currently an Associate Professor.
Prof Naidoo is very excited about the future of the Department. “UP is currently in the 501-550 range of QS World University overall ranking with BGM academics contributing to several high ranked fields e.g. Plant and Animal Science, Microbiology, Agricultural Sciences, Biology and Biochemistry. Increasing outputs in research focus areas will contribute to improving UP ISI Web of Knowledge field rankings. Research, teaching and learning are all interwoven within the life of an academic - however, one challenge for academics is dedicated time to conduct research and write papers. With careful planning and time-management on an individual basis, academic staff would be encouraged to produce more research outputs,” Prof Naidoo explains her vision for the Department.”
She also emphasised that “we continuously need to nurture and promote young and emerging researchers towards achieving an NRF rating. Several accomplished researchers with NRF A and B ratings within the Department would be able to provide guidance to junior staff members on an individual basis.”
Prof Naidoo has published more than 30 papers in international peer-reviewed journals, was awarded a Y-rating by the South African National Research Foundation (2015-2020), a Mellon Foundation Mentoring scholarship for her doctoral studies in plant biotechnology, and serves as president of the South African Genetics Society (2017-2020). She was also a Next Einstein Forum Fellow in 2017-2018. Prof Naidoo recently joined the editorial board of Scientific African and is also an editor for Frontiers in Microbiology and Tree Physiology.
She graduated 16 MSc students (eight with distinctions) and five PhD students. Currently, she is the main supervisor to two PhD students and three MSc students and a co-supervisor to one PhD student and two MSc students.