University of Johannesburg: Mathematician and researcher achieves highest South African rating

Expert mathematician and University of Johannesburg (UJ) academic Professor Michael Henning, has received a much coveted A-rating, for a third time, and has been awarded an A1 rating – the highest rating – by the South African National Research Foundation (NRF).

The NRF grants an A1 rating to a researcher who is “recognised by all reviewers as a leading scholar in his/her field internationally for the high quality and wide impact (i.e. beyond a narrow field of specialisation) of his/her recent outputs”. An A1 rating is thus a rare honour, reserved for the most distinguished researchers. There are only about 117 such A- rated scientists in the entire country across all disciplines.

“I am delighted to have retained my NRF A-rating for the third rating cycle and to receive a slightly increased rating, namely an A1-rating,” says Prof Henning. “Mathematical research is by nature unpredictable. One can literally work decades on a mathematics problem without making progress. Therefore, I am thankful to have made sufficient progress on my research to justify an A1-rating.”

Prof Henning has published around 500 papers to date in international mathematics journals, including over 100 papers in the prestigious journal called ‘Discrete Mathematics.’

The top-notch researcher has been a plenary and invited speaker at several international conferences in countries such as the USA, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, and Slovenia.

He collaborates with graph theorists from many countries. “The opportunity to work with some of the world leading mathematical minds is hugely beneficial, and extremely humbling, to me. Collaboration has greatly enhanced the research experience for me, and I would have accomplished only a small fraction of the research successes if I were not able to travel and work in person with my research colleagues in various part of the world,” explains Prof Henning.

Prof Henning’s research is in the field of discrete mathematics and is primarily on structures in graph theory (including domination theory in graphs, an area in which he has an established footprint, as well as other topics such as matchings, colourings, and independence in graphs) and on transversals in hypergraphs.

The interplay between total domination in graphs and transversals in hypergraphs has been a focal point of his research over the past 15 years. This has resulted in two Springer books ‘Total domination in graphs’ and ‘Transversals in linear uniform hypergraphs’ both co-authored with one of his main collaborators, Professor Anders Yeo from the University of Southern Denmark.

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