UP Scientists Honoured at NSTF Awards
29 June 2018
The University of Pretoria Institute for Sustainable Malaria Control (UP ISMC), headed by Prof Tiaan de Jager, has won a prestigious National Science and Technology Forum (NSTF) Award at a gala dinner last night. Prof Kevin Wall was honoured with a lifetime achievement award, while Prof Mmantsae Diale was recognised for her exceptional performance in research development. The awards are the most prestigious of their kind in the science community in South Africa.
The theme for this year’s awards is ‘Sustainable Energy for All.’ This is in recognition of the International Decade of Sustainable Energy (2014-2024) declared by the United Nations.
The UP ISMC won the Communication for Outreach and Creating Awareness of Science Engineering Technology and Innovation Award. Malaria is a complex, often fatal, vector-borne disease. Moving from malaria control to elimination requires novel control measures and strategies. Prof De Jager and his team (Prof Lyn-Marie Birkholtz, Prof Walter Focke, Prof Leo Braack and Dr Taneshka Kruger) at the UP ISMC strive to contribute towards eliminating malaria through high quality, trans-disciplinary research, new innovation and education.
The team promotes malaria awareness and prevention by communicating scientifically correct information through formal, informal and more innovative methods including social media. The UP ISMC is an avenue for the translation of high impact scientific research, from laboratory to community, improving the health of rural communities and visitors to malaria areas.
The UP ISMC developed a cellphone application, MalariaBuddy, in partnership with travel company, TWF and is active on social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Malaria messages are communicated to local communities, travellers and the general public through various media sources. “Education, health promotion, communication and innovative high impact research are key to address the Sustainable Development Goals, including malaria,” said Prof De Jager.
Prof Wall, an independent consultant and Extraordinary Professor in the Department of Construction Economics, was recognised with a Lifetime Award. He has been nominated for his many decades of responsibility at a senior level for infrastructure service delivery, much of it of an innovative nature, with both public and private sector organisations. The innovation has embraced new and improved policies and strategies, planning and engineering services norms, methods of construction and maintenance, institutional reform, skills transfer and job creation.
Prof Wall is currently serving as a Long-Term Infrastructure Management Adviser at National Treasury, and is also on the boards of a number of public sector service delivery bodies.
Prof Diale, Associate Professor in the Department of Physics won in the Engineering Research Capacity Development Awards category. The award recognises her exceptional performance as a researcher in materials development for applications in semiconductor devices used in light harvesting processes.
Her work centres on collection and storage of solar energy to reduce the effects of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, consequently climate change. This work has a different focus from other established energy platforms like nuclear and coal, which can be both harmful and dangerous to the environment.
“The University of Pretoria congratulates all our scientists who were acknowledged by the NSTF. We are very proud of their work and we will continue to invest in world-class research which will help move South Africa forward,” said Prof Stephanie Burton, Vice-Principal for Research and Postgraduate Education at UP.
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