Acclaimed chemist honoured with two prestigious awards

Posted on September 06, 2011

Prof Schutte was awarded the Gold Medal of the South African Chemical Institute (SACI). This Award is given to a person whose scientific contributions in the field of chemistry or chemical technology are adjudged to be of outstanding merit. The Southern Africa Association for the Advancement of Science (S2A3) also bestowed the South Africa Gold medal on Prof Schutte for his exceptional contribution to the advancement of science. This medal is bestowed to an eminent South African scientist based onon a broad front or in a specialised field. As part of this award he will also have the honour of delivering the annual Marloth Commemorative Lecture. Among the many scientists previously honoured with this award, were Professors Phillip Tobias, JPF Sellschop, Brian Warner, Pieter Stoker, GFR Ellis, MC Kew and CF Cresswell.

Prof Schutte, former Professor of Physical Chemistry and Dean of the Faculty of Science at the University of South Africa, retired as Chief Executive Director: Science, Technology and Informatics at UNISA in 1998. He was appointed Honorary Professor of Chemistry at the University of Pretoria in 2003, as well as member of the Unit for Advanced Studies. He is at present also involved with the IBM-Supercomputer of the University of Pretoria, with special emphasis on scientific computing.

He is one of the founder members of the prestigious Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf). He was President of the South African Chemical Society for four years. He was awarded the Havenga Prize for Chemistry of the SA Akademie vir Wetenskap en Kuns, as well as the James Moir Memorial Medal of the SA Chemical Institute.

He was member of the South African Delegation to the bi-annual meetings of the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) from 1973 to 1997, and usually acted as leader of the Delegation at IUPAC Council meetings. He served on the IUPAC Commission for Molecular Spectroscopy and Structure for many years, and was Chairperson for four years. He also served on the Publications Committee of IUPAC for a number of  years, and was Chairperson of the Editorial Board of IUPAC’s Journal, Pure and Applied Chemistry.

Professor Schutte's main research interest in Chemistry is centred on quantum theory and the structure of matter. He acted as the promoter or co-promoter of more than 30 PhD and 20 MSc students. He has published over 70 research papers in international scientific journals and participated in numerous scientific conferences both locally and overseas. He is the author of two textbooks, The Wave Mechanics of Atoms, Molecules and Ions (Edward Arnold, London, 1968) and The Theory of Molecular Spectroscopy (Elsevier, New York/Amsterdam, 1976), which were both prescribed at universities around the world.

More recently, as a specialist in distance education, his interest also shifted to telematics and education, especially to education using a confluence of techniques on the Internet, with special emphasis on the teaching of mathematical subjects via distance education. He has delivered papers at many South African and international conferences on Informatics and Telematics and presently serves on the Advisory Committee of the annual Berlin On-Line EDUCA conferences. He also acted as IT consultant for the South African Department of Education, contributing to the very important TELI Report. He is co-author of the review dealing with the internet and telematics education on the African Continent, published by the Commonwealth of Learning, Vancouver, Canada.

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