The time to be innovative is now!

Posted on May 18, 2016

'Be creative and forge your own future in ways never explored before. Be a leader and create your own new job description like that of the "Education Evangelist" at Google. The timing for being innovative is perfect – in the past you may have been burnt at the stake for having a non-conventional idea or view, but today people are hungry for novelty – the quest is on for "disruptive technologies" which change the way in which things are done.'

These inspiring thoughts were shared by Prof Patricia Forbes at the annual Outstanding Achievers Function for students of the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences (NAS) in May.

Prof Forbes, an associate professor in the Department of Chemistry, was the guest speaker at this prestigious function. She developed an educational spectrophotometer (the SpecUP), which students can assemble from a kit and use to generate analytically useful results.  In 2014 she received the Chemical Education Award of the South African Chemical Institute (SACI) for this project, which has been rolled out to numerous institutions throughout Africa. In 2015 the project was also awarded the prestigious international Wharton QS Reimagine Education Award for Presence Learning. In 2016 she was the recipient of the University of Pretoria's Teaching Excellence and Innovation Laureate Award.

Finally, she encouraged the undergraduate students present at the event to explore the numerous exciting opportunities which are available regarding postgraduate studies and to take up the challenge in this regard. 'The world is your oyster and the options which your future holds are wide.'

Liezl Ferreira continued her excellent achievements from the previous years. This year she was honoured to be the recipient of the Vice-Chancellor's and Principal's Medal for excellent undergraduate academic achievement as the best student in the Faculty, with a weighted average performance of more than 92, 18 % over her three years of study. She also won the Discovery Holdings Prize and the Outsurance Prize. Last year she was the number one student on the Dean's Merit list, with an average of 93% and scooped up most the awards (four) at the event.

Tristan Venter

Mr Tristan Venter won the most awards this year, which were all sponsored by FNB. The three awards were for the best student in Financial Mathematics, the best second-year student in the BSc (Actuarial Science) degree programme and the best second-year student in Actuarial Mathematics.

The Dean's Merit List for 2015 was announced (the list includes students with an average of more than 75%) and the Top 30 undergraduate students on this list (with an average of 85% or more) were also acknowledged at this event. Duncan Dean was the number one student on this list with an average of 93% and he was also awarded as the best second-year student in Physics.

The Dean especially mentioned all the candidates who received their doctoral degree during the recent autumn graduation ceremony and announced that they will also be included in the Dean's Merit List.

At this prestigious event, more than 60 prizes and trophies were awarded to the top students in the Faculty. The Faculty is proud to have such outstanding academic achievers and is very grateful to all the sponsors of the prizes and trophies.

All the photos of the event is available at


- Author Martie Meyer

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