Five academics from the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Pretoria (UP) have been nominated for awards in various categories of the 2015/2016 National Science and Technology Forum (NSTF) Awards.
The annual NSTF Awards, presented in partnership with South 32, are referred to as the 'Science Oscars' of South Africa as they are the largest, most comprehensive and most sought-after national awards of their kind. In South Africa, the NSTF is the most representative multi-stakeholder, non-profit forum for the promotion of science, engineering and technology (SET), and of innovation through collaborative efforts. The NSTF Awards were first introduced in 1998, at which time there were no comparable awards for research and development in the country. Over the years, an NSTF Award has become a prestigious accolade bestowed on researchers, teams and organisations, and even just being nominated is considered a great honour.
Prof Bernard Fourie, Extraordinary Professor in the Department of Medical Microbiology, and Prof Maureen Taylor, Professor and incumbent of the Rand Water Chair in Public Health at UP, were both nominated for an NSTF Lifetime Award, which is awarded to an individual for innovation and an outstanding contribution to SET over a period of 15 years or more. In addition to this, Prof Taylor was also nominated for the NSTF-GreenMatter Award. GreenMatter, the sponsor of the award, is a programme of the Tony and Lisette Lewis Foundation, which consists of a network of partners who collaborate to implement the 20-year Biodiversity Human Capital Development Strategy. The award is bestowed on an individual or organisation for an outstanding contribution to science, engineering and technology, and an innovative approach towards achieving biodiversity conservation, environmental sustainability and a greener economy.
Prof Vanessa Steenkamp, Head of the Department of Pharmacology, was nominated in the category Research or Engineering Capacity Development. The recipients of these awards are individuals who have demonstrated outstanding leadership in increasing the participation of young researchers or engineers in their chosen SET fields during the past five to ten years. The purpose of this category is to recognise individuals who have trained and guided significant numbers of diverse postgraduate students to the completion of master's and doctoral studies, or through whose influence a department or school has significantly increased the diversity of students completing both master's and doctoral studies. Eskom sponsors two awards in this category for contributions in the field of engineering – one for a male and one for a female – while the NSTF will make an additional award for contributions in other disciplines.
Dr Ryan Blumenthal, Senior Specialist and Lecturer in the Department of Forensic Medicine, and Prof Theresa Rossouw, Associate Professor in the Faculty of Health Sciences at UP, were both nominated in the category Communication for Outreach and Creating Awareness, which recognises an outstanding contribution made by a communicator through substantially raising public awareness of SET.
During the next stage of the competition, an adjudication panel of independent judges who represent six different sectors of the NSTF membership, as well as the various award partners, will review the nominations to select the finalists and winners. The names of the finalists will be announced during May 2016 and the winners will be announced at a gala dinner with Ms Naledi Pandor, Minister of Science and Technology, who is the patron of the awards. The event is planned for late June or early July 2016.
The Faculty of Health Sciences is extremely proud of all its nominees and wishes them all the best for the competition going forward.