UP hosts first-ever virtual Academic Achievers’ Awards

Posted on November 26, 2020

For the first time in the institution’s history, the University of Pretoria (UP) held its annual Academic Achievers’ Awards virtually. By no means, however, was the significance of this prestigious event dampened by what Vice-Chancellor and Principal Professor Tawana Kupe deems to have been “extraordinary circumstances”.

“We have been celebrating UP’s academic achievers for more than 20 years,” Prof Kupe said. “This is the first year that the awards ceremony is taking place under extraordinary circumstances. The world is in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, and UP has not been left unscathed.”

The awards are held to honour UP academics who have shone in their respective disciplines. This year, a total of 110 academics were acknowledged for being included on the list of the National Research Foundation (NRF)-rated scholars or for the outstanding work they had done over the past year.

Prof Kupe is a strong advocate of the crucial role that tertiary education institutions play in not only producing relevant, impactful research, but also in partnering with various sectors in society to address prevalent issues. During his opening address, the Vice-Chancellor highlighted how UP academics have added value in the response to the challenges brought about by COVID-19.

“Our staff and students have risen to the challenge with energy and passion to make a meaningful impact in the societies we live and operate in,” he said. “Some final-year medical students from UP volunteered to man a hotline for people who had questions about COVID-19. The Department of Family Medicine developed a highly efficient COVID-19 screening protocol that provides holistic health support to communities in need.

“Furthermore, two UP students developed a mobile app for homeless shelters to access assistance during the pandemic. Also, an academic from the Department of Family Medicine developed a series of animated videos that aim to educate the public about COVID-19, and research conducted by four UP academics found a correlation between lower temperatures and the faster spread of the virus. It is actions such as these that ensure that UP continues to shine as an innovative university. This explains why the University continues to deliver excellence in research.”

The guest speaker on the night was Professor Achille Mbembe, who is an NRF A1-rated researcher, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a distinguished author. In his brief address Prof Mbembe described the ceremony as a “celebration of an institution and of the great minds that constitute its soul and flesh”. He also highlighted the role played by academics like Prof Kupe in the sustainable development agenda, particularly in the context of the sustainability of the Earth’s natural resources.

“Prof Kupe is helping to deepen the idea of the university in this planetary age. In the planetary age we have to confront two issues,” he said. “The first is planetary habitability, which speaks to the Earth we share, albeit unequally, and the way in which it needs care and repair. The task we have is to devise mechanisms to take better care of it and to repair it. The second issue we have to confront is technological escalation. We have to resist the temptation to reduce the Earth to just its financial value. In his attempt at expanding and enriching our idea of the university, Prof Kupe has been insisting that we still need moral consciousness. It seems to me that in order to move forward, critical humanities in association with critical understandings of our environment is key.”

The Conversation Africa Communication Excellence Awards were presented for the first time in the history of the awards. Pfungwa Nyamukachi, Candice Bailey and Caroline Southey of The Conversation Africa – a platform that allows academics to share their research with the academic fraternity as well as with broader society – presented three awards in this category. Prof Henning Melber received the award for writing the most articles in a single calendar year; Prof Fransjohan Pretorius was the recipient of an award for the individual whose story attracted the most readers; and Dr Quixi Sonntag was awarded for her story, which garnered the most comments on the platform.

Dr Molapo Qhobela, CEO of the NRF, was on hand to share a message and congratulate UP’s NRF-rated recipients. Four UP academics were awarded the coveted A-rating; six were awarded a B-rating; 55 were given a C-rating; three were awarded a P-rating; and 17 were given a Y-rating. The number of UP academics that received these ratings from the NRF cements the University’s position as the institution of choice for the country’s best researchers.

The awards ceremony can be viewed here.

Below is the list of awardees:

Chancellor’s Award: Research

Prof Jan Eloff

Vice-Chancellor’s Book Award

Prof Robin Crewe and Prof Robin Moritz for The Dark Side of the Hive

Prof Charles Ngwena for What is Africanness?

Exceptional Academic Achievers

Prof Roumen Anguelov

Prof Dave Berger

Prof Ian Craig

Prof Schalk Els

Prof Stephan Heyns

Prof Jenny Hoobler

Prof Willem Landman

Prof Fanus Venter

Prof Frans Viljoen

Exceptional Young Researchers

Prof Roger Deane

Prof Michal Gwizdala

Prof Lijun Zhang

Excellent Supervisor's Award

Prof Don Cowan

Teaching Excellence and Innovation Laureate Awards

Dr Rory Biggs

Roland Henwood

Heather Thuynsma

Dr Nadia Trent

Community Engagement Award

Prof Christiaan Bezuidenhout

The Conversation Award for Communication Excellence

Prof Fransjohan Pretorius

Prof Henning Melber

Dr Quixi Sonntag

National Research Foundation-rated researchers:

A-rated researchers

  1. Prof Jean Lubuma
  2. Prof James Ogude
  3. Prof James Raftery
  4. Prof Brenda Wingfield

B-rated researchers

  1. Prof Lorenzo Fioramonti
  2. Dr Gerhard Hancke
  3. Prof James Maina
  4. Prof Francois Malan
  5. Prof Dire Tladi
  6. Prof Andries van Aarde

C-rated researchers

  1. Dr Olufemi Adetunji
  2. Dr Pineteh Angu
  3. Prof Arthur Barker
  4. Prof Margret Bauer
  5. Prof Hilda Chikwanda
  6. Dr Duncan Cromarty
  7. Prof Shakila Dada
  8. Prof Tiaan de Jager
  9. Prof Rian de Villiers
  10. Prof Yolanda Dreyer
  11. Prof Amanda du Preez
  12. Dr Jacques du Toit
  13. Prof Graham Duncan
  14. Dr Liesl Dyson
  15. Prof Patricia Forbes
  16. Prof Bernard Fourie
  17. Prof Anabella Gaspar
  18. Prof Alphonso Groenewald
  19. Prof Christopher Isike
  20. Dr Trudi Joubert
  21. Dr Quenton Kritzinger
  22. Prof Birgit Kuschke
  23. Prof Johan Labuschagne
  24. Dr John Lamola
  25. Dr Nils Lenhardt
  26. Dr Peter Lindsey
  27. Prof Berendien Lubbe
  28. Prof Koos Malan
  29. Prof George Markou
  30. Prof Marianne Matthee
  31. Prof Deon Meiring (awarded posthumously)
  32. Prof Leith Meyer
  33. Prof Johann Meylahn
  34. Prof Lucy Moleleki
  35. Prof Raj Naidoo
  36. Prof Ruthira Naraidoo
  37. Dr Claire Newton
  38. Dr Eric Njoroge
  39. Dr Kenneth Oberlander
  40. Dr Funke Omidire
  41. Dr Inge-Marie Petzer
  42. Prof Jerry Pillay
  43. Prof Theresa Rossouw
  44. Dr Astrid Schmulian
  45. Dr Ben Schoeman
  46. Prof Hanlie Smuts
  47. Dr Tinus Stander
  48. Prof Herman Steyn
  49. Prof Mapitsi Thantsha
  50. Prof Rada Tirvassen
  51. Dr Magriet van der Nest
  52. Dr Carina Visser
  53. Dr Juan Vorster
  54. Prof Melanie Wiese
  55. Prof Mpume Zondi

P-rated researchers

  1. Dr Steven Hussey
  2. Dr Thulani Makhalanyane
  3. Prof Cobus Visagie

Y-rated researchers

  1. Dr Farshad Barzegar
  2. Dr Thomas Bishop
  3. Dr Elizabeth du Preez
  4. Dr Inger Fabris-Rotelli
  5. Dr Priscilla Gutura
  6. Dr Marie Hattingh
  7. Dr Barbara Heinze
  8. Dr Marinel Hoffmann
  9. Dr Faheema Mahomed Asmail
  10. Dr Nadene Marx-Pienaar
  11. Dr Tendani Mawela
  12. Dr Mehdi Mehrabi
  13. Dr Miek Messerschmidt
  14. Dr Mohammad Moghimi Ardekani
  15. Dr Carel Oosthuizen
  16. Dr Tania Prinsloo
  17. Dr Riana Steyn
- Author Kaya Nocanda

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