Three University of Pretoria (UP) scientists were inaugurated as fellows of the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf) at the organisation’s annual awards ceremony recently. One of the core functions of the academy is to honour the country’s most outstanding scholars by electing them to join as members.
The UP scientists are Professor Olalekan Ayo-Yusuf, Head of School and Professor at the School of Health Systems and Public Health; Professor Andrew McKechnie, Professor and South African Research Chair (Conservation Physiology), Department of Zoology and Entomology; and Professor Hettie Schönfeldt, SARChI Chair in the National Development Plan Priority Area of Nutrition and Food Security and Co-director: African Research Universities Alliance (ARUA): Centre of Excellence in Sustainable Food Systems.
According to ASSAf, the criteria for election is “significant achievement in the advancement and application of science/ scholarship, both nationally and internationally”. Members are drawn from the wide spectrum of disciplines.
Professor Andrew McKechnie, Professor Hettie Schönfeldt and Professor Olalekan Ayo-Yusuf.
Prof Ayo-Yusuf, who is a full-time Professor and the Chairperson/ Head of the School of Health Systems and Public Health (SHSPH) at the Faculty of Health Sciences, said: “ASSAf is a prestigious community of distinguished scientists who have dedicated to using their knowledge to change society for good. It is also the official national academy of science of South Africa established by an Act of Parliament and represents South Africa in the international community of science academies. I therefore felt the agenda of ASSAf, with such national and international standing, resonates with my personal aspirations of giving back to the society through making a difference and enriching lives with my scientific knowledge.”
Prof Ayo-Yusuf serves as the Director of the National Council Against Smoking and as Director of the Africa Centre for Tobacco Industry Monitoring and Policy Research, a programme he started while at the Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University.
“I believe that my active membership of ASSAf will contribute to UP’s strategic intent of strengthening the University’s responsiveness and impact on society. Furthermore, it will also contribute to the SHSPH’s vision of inspiring public health excellence and enriching lives in the African continent by providing evidence to inform policy development and implementation.”
UP Vice-Chancellor and Principal Professor Tawana Kupe congratulated the new ASSAf fellows.
“The University of Pretoria is proud to play a key role in contributing to South Africa’s academic expertise. Congratulations to the new UP ASSAf members whose multidisciplinary research will not just be of service to South Africa, but will enrich societies on the African continent and beyond.”
He added that as a future-focused university, “we produce innovative knowledge and ideas that address the most pressing global challenges. The fact that UP has over 70 ASSAf fellows is testament to our significant impact on society.”