Top UP scientists honoured at NSTF Awards

Minister of Science & Technology, Mosibudi Mangena, presented awards to Prof. Annemarie Hattingh, Dr Saloshna Vandeyar and Prof Thokozani Majozi at the gala awards dinner on May 23.

The ten individual and three company winners were selected from 70 nominations. The NSTF Awards celebrate outstanding contributions to Science, Engineering and Technology (SET). It is unique in that the event affords an opportunity for recognition to all practising scientists, engineers and technologists across the system of innovation, including not only researchers, but also individuals who have contributed to the promotion of SET apart from research work, companies and organisations, individuals who have played a valuable mentorship role for young researchers, as well as Science communicators.

Today's research - Tomorrow's innovation, emphasises the contribution that dedicated individuals, either working by themselves or as part of an organisation, can make in improving the quality of life for current and future generations. Our winners demonstrate that South African SET is on a par with global standards, but more importantly, that great innovation is only really achievable through people,” says chief adjudicator, Denis Hunt.

Prof Hatting, an associate professor and director of the Centre for Mathematics, Science and Technology Education at UP, received the ESKOM sponsored Award: Researcher, for Research Capacity Development over the last 5-10 years. She has dedicated her life to creating intellectual and financial opportunities for the development of PhD research and supervision capacities in the MST field. She has a broad pan-African view of scholarship and has provided leadership in the African-Norwegian research network in this regard, set to continue. In a relatively short academic career, she has undertaken cutting edge research work by, for example, studying exceptional science teaching competence, and the practices of educators working in difficult learning environments. Her work provides new understanding and practice-based theories for the professional development and pre-service education of science educators. The Quality Assurance Framework that she developed for the African Virtual University sets new benchmarks for the delivery of qualifications in MST education on the African continent.

Dr Saloshna Vandeyar, a senior lecturer in the Faculty of Education received the NRF Sponsored T W Kambule Award : Senior Black Researcher over the last 5 to 10 years. She was honoured for her research on exceptional patterns, evident of desegregation in schools i.e. schools formerly white which have experienced significant levels of black enrolment without significant levels of white flight. Some experience has been that a tipping point is reached at which white students abandon the school en masse. However, there are significant numbers of schools where this has not happened. The objective of her research is to find out what can be learned from these schools, particularly where the experience has been positive. A further study on best practices in school environments in the areas of integration, capturing the dynamic environment of such schools, has attracted considerable interest.

Prof Thokozani Majozi, an associate professor in Chemical Engineering, was honoured in the NRF Sponsored T W Kambule Award: Distinguished Young Black Researcher over the last 2 to 5 years. Research on optimising batch processes using fuzzy logic in Prof Majozi's department has been applied to the solution of problems in batch plants which have flexibility and adaptability compared to their continuous counterparts. This has been the basis for the development of a continuous-time mathematical formulation for scheduling. A further development has been a process integration technique for systems involving heat and mass transfer with the objective of minimising or eliminating effluent in chemical industries. The efficiency of the chemical processing models built was tested for three real life situations, and has shown a 50% reduction in freshwater demand and wastewater generation in an agrochemical facility, more than 10% wastewater reduction in a multinational pharmaceuticals facility and more than 40% water savings in an explosives plant.


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