Grand Challenges and frontier research both drive the need for transdisciplinary research. At IFNuW we have pioneered the facilitation of transdiscipnary research in food security and nutrition since our launch in May 2012. In just five years, we have built an active platform of over 85 academics drawn from 35 departments across the University of Pretoria. This network of passionate experts and our local, continental and international partners are tackling critical issues related to solving challenges and creating opportunities related to Sustainable Development Goal 2.
A relatively small but essential pot of seed funding from the University Executive provided the incentive to initiate exciting research programmes that matter. They matter in the fields of science – pushing the boundaries of knowledge and breaking new ground. They matter to society – finding practical solutions to everyday challenges. And they matter to us, the researchers, as the projects give us opportunities to make a difference. From laboratories to field studies, from molecular systems to classrooms, we have taken science to the next level and into society.
This report profiles the original set of projects funded with UP internal seed funding and demonstrates their potential to generate impact in both traditional science indicators as well as delivering social impact. Projects such as these profiled in this report reflect the potential for transdisciplinary endeavours to build partnerships and conduct research that would not be possible without extensive collaboration both within and beyond the University.
The successes demonstrate the power of collaborative action to draw in new partnerships and leverage additional resources. Our efforts and excellence have motivated the award of multiple large grants including the DST/NRF CoE in Food Security, co-hosted with the University of the Western Cape, our participation in three US Innovation Labs and a Belmont Forum Project. From 2018, we will host the African Research University Association (ARUA) Centre of Excellence in Food Security – further recognition of our leadership in coordinating large-scale and inclusive transdisciplinary research addressing essential food security and nutrition challenges. It is a delight to work with such a dedicated team of researchers at the University, all of whom are committed to excellence and making a difference.
We look forward to expanding our work, deepening our engagement, nurture existing and explore new partnerships and build more capacity and help to ensure development ‘leaves no one behind’.