Prof Mike Wingfield to receive the John FW Herschel Medal

Posted on October 20, 2016


Prof Mike Wingfield, a renowned international researcher and leader in the field of forest health, will receive the prestigious Royal Society of South Africa (RSSAf)'s John FW Herschel medal for 2017. The award, including a medal and certificate, will be presented at the Society's Annual Dinner and Awards Evening.

The Herschel medal is the highest honour that can be bestowed on a Fellow of the RSSAf and the adjudicators recognised Prof Wingfield's outstanding contributions in the field of forestry, specifically but not exclusively related to the health of trees. This is not only in the context of what he has contributed in South Africa while based at the Forestry and Agriculture Biotechnology Institute (FABI) at the University of Pretoria, but also internationally. The RSSAf also referred to the fact that Prof Wingfield is the President of the International Union of Forestry Research Organisations (IUFRO), described as 'one of the oldest and largest Scientific Unions in the world, representing between 15 000 and 20 000 forestry researchers linked to approximately 650 member organisations in 120 countries'.

Prof Wingfield is Professor and Founding Director of FABI and also an A1-rated National Research Foundation (NRF) researcher.

His work on the topic of tree health has been widely published in more than 600 research papers and five books. As an invited speaker he has made numerous highly acclaimed presentations globally.

When asked to comment on the news of this award, Prof Wingfield said: 'I am humbled and most honoured to be recognised in this way by one of the most important societies promoting Science in South Africa'. He continued that, 'to receive an award in the name of John Herschel is particularly gratifying. This from my perspective is not related so much to his remarkable accomplishments as an astrophysicist, but the fact that he knew one of my great heroes, Charles Darwin. He also had a great passion for plants of the fynbos which I share.'

Prof Wingfield has been elected as a fellow of several scientific societies, including the Royal Society of South Africa, the Academy of Science for South Africa (ASSAf), and the Southern African Society for Plant Pathology and the American Phytopathological Society. He is one of the few honorary members of the Mycological Society of America.

The prestigious African Union (AU) Kwame Nkrumah Scientific Award in the Life and Earth Sciences category was bestowed on Prof Wingfield in Addis Ababa in 2013, and other accolades that he received include the Johanna Westerdijk Award, awarded by the Centraalbureau voor Schimmelcultures (CBS) (Fungal Biodiversity Centre, the Netherlands), and he holds honorary DSc degrees from the University of British (2012), and from the North Carolina State University( 2013). He was also recently awarded the Distinguished Leadership Award for International Scientists for 2016, by his alma mater, the University of Minnesota. 



- Author Martie Meyer

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