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VUT researchers recognised for their dedication and hard work

"I look forward to the day we get our own professor who has been groomed and trained right here at VUT."

These were the words shared by Dr Augastine Ofomaja: Faculty Research Chairperson at the Applied Sciences Faculty Research Awards which were held on 21 October at the Bon Hotel Riviera in Vereeniging.

It is currently the season in which the Vaal University of Technology (VUT) recognises and rewards individuals who aim for excellence in their field as researchers each year. Colleagues and family members attended the awards ceremony to honour and celebrate these individuals. Dr Ofomaja introduced all the recipients by reading their citations, and noted that there are two categories namely: Research Excellence Awards and Research Achievement Awards.

Dr Ofomaja further stated that the ceremony is not just to acknowledge the recipients of the awards, but all the researchers in the department who continue to do work for the advancement of the university and themselves.

Professor Kuzvinetsa Dzvimbo: Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Academic and Research presented the awards to each of the recipients on behalf of Professor Raymond Mabuza, the Executive Dean of Applied and Computer Sciences.

Recipients of the excellence awards: Professor Michael Pillay, who is the author and co-author of many published articles and book chapters, received first prize. Professor Ezekiel Dikio, who has published over 70 research articles in peer-reviewed journals in the area of Thermodynamics, Nanotechnology (Materials Chemistry) and others, received second place. The third position was awarded to Professor Justice Moloto who serves on committees of SACI, SANI and various other committees within the University.

Recipients of the Achievements Awards were: Dr Ssemakalu Cano, a senior lecturer in the department of biotechnology and a principal researcher in the newly established bio-tissue regeneration and immunology unit, was awarded first position. Second position in this category was awarded to Dr Naser Feto, who is a registered Professional Natural Scientist at SACNASP and works in the department of biotechnology at VUT.

"It is always important to celebrate excellence, to celebrate those who achieve and excel more than most. I hope to one day celebrate these awards in the evening, to afford all spouses, children and extended family members of the award recipients to see their achievements and be inspired," Professor Dzvimbo said in his congratulatory speech.

VUT's research output is in the bottom five of universities, and this needs to change, he stated. His hopes are to see his colleagues continuing their work and setting the pace for others. He touched on his concern with the lack of female researchers - none of the recipients were women.

"We need to create avenues for emerging female academics to achieve excellence. There is nothing stopping young women from achieving academic excellence, all they need is a sense of purpose and a sense of direction. You need to focus on a particular area and excel in it," he said.

Professor Dzvimbo addressed each award recipient individually, noting that he is extremely proud of them. They've each made a mark in the university, contributing positively towards its success.