SA Academy for Science and Art honours UP academics

Posted on June 05, 2020

Highly regarded researchers Professor Bernard Slippers and Professor Antoinette Lombard of the University of Pretoria (UP) have won prestigious awards from the Suid-Afrikaanse Akademie vir Wetenskap en Kuns (South African Academy for Science and Art).

Prof Slippers, of the Department of Biochemistry, Genetics and Microbiology is the recipient of the Havenga Prize for Life Sciences – which is awarded for original research – while Prof Lombard, professor in Social Work and head of the Social Work and Criminology Department, received the Stals Prize for Social Work.

“Too often we separate the arts and sciences, and it is delightful to see such a breadth of human creativity represented,” said Prof Slippers, who is also director of the Forestry and Agricultural Biotechnology Institute (FABI) and founding director of UP’s Future Africa institute and campus. “The academy is years ahead of its time in this regard, having done this for many years. I am honoured and thankful to receive the Havenga Prize and I am excited to be included on the list of prize winners with such highly respected scientists and artists; I congratulate them all.”

Prof Slippers’ research focuses on the ecology and evolution of insects and micro-organisms that affect tree health, and the development of tools to mitigate their impact. He has received wide recognition for his research, such as a President's Award from the National Research Foundation, among others. He has a passion for science development and the role of science in broader society, and is a founding member of the Global Young Academy and the South African Young Academy of Science.

“It is such a privilege to be able to live one’s passion through science – even more so, to be able to do it in a supportive environment such as FABI and with talented, passionate friends and colleagues around the world,” Prof Slippers added. “The award motivates me to invest even more into supporting and mentoring the next generation of scientists. We need many more scientists on the continent to help ensure our global competitiveness, as well as the safety of our society and environment.”

Prof Lombard received the Stals Prize for Social Work for a well-respected publication in Afrikaans and for individual or collective outputs of the highest standard that are an exceptional contribution to science.

“This prize inspires me to continue my research, and it strengthens my efforts to create a research environment for my students so that we can collectively contribute to a more just society and sustainable future for all,” she said.

For more than 15 years, Prof Lombard has been the head of UP’s Department of Social Work and Criminology. She enjoys international recognition for her research and is the director of the Ubuntu Programme, an exchange programme with Fordham University for students majoring in various disciplines. The academic programme involves lecturers and modules across four faculties, and includes a community engagement component and service learning in South African communities.

“Being recognised reminds me of the importance of valuing those that I collaborate with and who support me in my research efforts,” Prof Lombard added. “An award is only an achievement through the eyes of peers and those that benefit from the research outcomes.”



- Author Martie Meyer

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