NWU shines with 13 'Science Oscar' finalists

Issued by North West University
Johannesburg, Jun 1, 2018

Thirteen of the North-West University's (NWU's) esteemed researchers and academics are finalists for the prestigious annual awards of the National Science and Technology Forum (NSTF). The NSTF-South32 Awards, also known as the 'Science Oscars', are sought after each year by the who's who of science, engineering, technology and innovation in South Africa.

The NSTF-South32 Awards are the largest and oldest science, engineering and technology (SET) and innovation awards in South Africa, presented to raise awareness about SET among the public.

The NWU's staff have regularly excelled in these awards over the years. Last year's winners included Prof Alta Schutte of the Faculty of Natural Sciences and Prof Melville Saayman of the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences. Schutte was the joint winner of the TW Kambule-NSTF Award for research by an individual over a period of up to 15 years after receiving a PhD and Saayman won the Special Annual Theme Award.

The NWU is continuing this winning streak with 13 finalists and various nominations in this year's NTSF Awards.

Prof Elvis Fosso-Kankeu, associate professor at the School of Chemical and Mineral Engineering of the Faculty of Engineering, leads the pack with two nominations, one each in the Emerging Researchers and NSTF-WRC (Water Research Commission) Award categories.

Prof Du Toit Loots of the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences and Prof Leon'e Malan of the Faculty of Health Sciences are both nominated in the Researcher category. Loots is the Research Director for Human Metabolomics and Malan is a professor in neurophysiology at the Hypertension in Africa Research Team. Both are in the running for the TW Kambule-NSTF Awards for Researchers who have made a contribution, predominantly in South Africa, to research and its outputs over a period of 15 years.

Prof Sanette Marx, associate professor at the School of Chemical and Mineral Engineering of the Faculty of Engineering and National Research Foundation Research Chair in Biofuels and Other Clean Alternative Fuels, and Prof Thebe (Rodney) Medupe of the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, were nominated in the Engineering Research Capacity Development and Communication categories respectively.

Prof Brian Herbert Harvey of the Faculty of Health Sciences is the NWU's finalist in the Lifetime Award category for academics who have made contributions over a period of 15 years or more. Harvey is the programme leader for the Centre of Excellence for Pharmaceutical Sciences in the School of Pharmacy and also the programme leader for the South African Medical Research Council's Unit on Risk and Resilience.

The NWU's Solar Car Team and Centre for Advanced Manufacturing (CFAM) Technologies are both in the running for Innovation Awards. The Solar Car Team is a finalist in the corporate organisation category and CFAM Technologies in the small, medium and micro enterprise category.

External partners with whom the university has collaboration agreements are also finalists for awards. They include CUT/NWU CPAM (Collaborative Programme in Additive Manufacturing) for both the Engineering Research Capacity Development Award and Innovation Award for Corporate organisation, LONMIN for the Innovation Award for Corporate organisation and the Platinum Incubator for the Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) Award.

Some of the NWU's researchers and academics who have also been nominated this year for awards but are not finalists include Prof Hendri Coetzee, Prof Eno Ebenso, Dr Gaathier Mahed, Prof Andries Monyeki, Prof Lesetja Motadi, Prof Salome Kruger and Prof Marius Smuts. It is considered a great honour to be nominated for the awards.

"We are celebrating all finalists and nominees and are positive of receiving a favourable outcome at the awards. Thank you to all the colleagues for their time and effort in completing the applications for the awards," says Prof Refilwe Phaswana-Mafuya, the NWU's vice-chancellor for Research and Innovation.

"We hope to continue participating in these types of awards for it is important to receive recognition for the outstanding work we are doing at the NWU."

The winners of this year's awards will be announced during the NSTF-South32 gala event at Emperor's palace on 28 June.