UP congratulates 12 staff members announced as finalists for 2023/24 ‘Science Oscars’

Posted on May 24, 2024

Twelve individuals from the University of Pretoria (UP) have been announced as finalists in the 2023/2024 NSTF-South32 Awards, popularly known as the “Science Oscars” of South Africa. Twenty UP staff members and one team were nominated for these prestigious awards. 

The National Science and Technology Forum (NSTF) Awards honour and celebrate outstanding contributions to science, engineering and technology (SET), and innovation. The 2023/2024 NSTF-South32 Award finalists were recently announced, and UP is proud to congratulate the following UP staff members and groups who have been selected as finalists, as well as those who were nominated in different categories:

Lifetime Award


Prof Nigel C Bennett – Chair: Austin Roberts of Mammalogy; Full Professor: Zoology, Department (Dept) of Zoology and Entomology, Mammal Research Institute (Inst), University of Pretoria (UP).

Prof Andre Ganswindt – Professor and Director: Mammal Research Inst, Dept of Zoology and Entomology, Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, UP.

Prof Marietjie Venter – Distinguished Professor and Research Chair: Emerging Viral Threats, One Health Vaccines & Surveillance; Infectious Diseases and Oncology Research Institute, Wits University. (Prof Venter is an Extraordinary Professor, Director: Centre for Emerging and Re-emerging Arbo and Respiratory Virus Research; Dept of Medical Virology, UP, having served an 18-year full-time tenure with UP until April 2024).


Prof Anita Michel – Professor: Bacteriology, Dept of Veterinary Tropical Diseases; Head: World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH) Collaboration, Centre for Training in Integrated Livestock and Wildlife Management, Faculty of Veterinary Science, UP. 

Prof Vanessa Steenkamp – Deputy Dean: Teaching and Learning; Full Professor: Pharmacology, Faculty of Health Sciences, UP.


TW Kambule-NSTF Award: Researcher


Prof Irene Barnes – Professor of Genetics: Dept of Biochemistry, Genetics and Microbiology; Research Leader: Forestry and Agricultural Biotechnology Institute, UP. 


Dr Mankgopo Kgatle – Extraordinary Lecturer and Head: Basic and Translational Research (Nuclear Medicine Research Infrastructure), UP.


TW Kambule-NSTF Award: Emerging Researcher


Prof Cobus M Visagie – Associate Professor: Forestry and Agricultural Biotechnology Institute, UP.


Dr Sean Kruger – Senior Lecturer: Centre for the Future of Work, Business Management Dept, UP.

Dr Rian Pierneef – Lecturer, Dept of Biochemistry, Genetics and Microbiology, Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, UP.


Management Award

Prof Bernard Slippers – Professor: Dept of Biochemistry, Genetics & Microbiology; Director: Tree Protection Co-operative Programme; Director: Forestry and Agricultural Biotechnology Institute, UP; Director: Innovation Africa @UP.


NSTF-Water Research Commission (WRC) Award


Prof John G Annandale – Group Leader: Mine Water Irrigation Research Group, Dept of Plant and Soil Sciences, UP.

Dr Marco van Dijk – Senior Lecturer: Dept of Civil Engineering, UP. 


NSTF-SAMRC Clinician-Scientist Award

Prof Kgomotso Mokoala – Head of Clinical Unit, Steve Biko Academic Hospital, UP.

Prof Veronica Ueckermann – Head: Infectious Diseases, Steve Biko Academic Hospital; Associate Professor: Dept of Internal Medicine, UP. 

Green Economy Award

Dr Schalk Grobbelaar – Senior Lecturer and Chairperson: York Timbers Chair in Wood Structural Engineering for a Sustainable Built Environment and African Bio-economy, Dept of Engineering and Technology Management, UP. 

Dr Christina Breed – Associate Professor: Dept of Architecture, UP; Principal Investigator: UP Externally funded projects ‘Integrative Green Infrastructure’ (GRIP) and ‘Collaboration on Nature-based Solutions’ (CONSUD).

Science Diplomacy for Africa Award

Prof Mmantsae Diale – Chair: Department of Science and Innovation (DSI)/National Research Foundation (NRF) South African Research Chairs Initiative (SARChI) in Clean and Green Energy, Department of Physics, UP.


Innovation Award: Corporate Organisation


Prof Mike Sathekge – Nuclear Medicine Research Infrastructure NPC - Chief Executive Officer and President, UP.


Communication Award

Prof Ryan Blumenthal – Senior Specialist Forensic Pathologist and Associate Professor: Dept of Forensic Medicine, UP.

Ms Shakira Hoosain – Campaign Strategist and Senior Copywriter, UP.


Prof Tiaan de Jager, Faculty Dean and Team Representative: Faculty of Health Sciences, UP


Special Annual Theme Award: Fourth Industrial Revolution in South Africa


Dr Sean Kruger – Senior Lecturer: Centre for the Future of Work, Business Management Dept, University of Pretoria (also nominated in the Emerging Researcher category).


An adjudication panel of independent judges, assembled annually by the NSTF executive committee from member nominations, together with a panel of experts appointed by the NSTF executive committee, is responsible for shortlisting the finalists and making the final selection of winners for these distinguished awards.

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