University of Pretoria: UP academics win big at SA Academy for Science and the Arts Awards

Ten University of Pretoria (UP) academics and researchers took home top prizes in the recently announced Suid-Afrikaanse Akademie vir Wetenskap en Kuns (SAAWK/ South African Academy for Science and the Arts) annual awards.

The SAAWK is a multidisciplinary organisation dedicated to promoting science, technology and the arts in Afrikaans, as well as the use and quality of Afrikaans.

“Our mission at UP is to pursue excellence in our core functions of research, teaching and learning, and utilising that research to constantly improve our society and communities,” said Professor Tawana Kupe, Vice-Chancellor and Principal of UP. “My heartfelt congratulations to the winners, all of whom have exemplified this mission.”

The UP winners are:

The Havenga Prize for Life Sciences is awarded once to an individual for original research. This year, it was awarded to Prof Marion Meyer of the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, whose research in the field of pharmacology and toxicology has led to numerous patents. He is the first South African to apply metabolomics – the large-scale study of small molecules (commonly known as metabolites) within cells, biofluids, tissues or organisms – and published the first peer-reviewed article on it.

The Stals Prize for Psychology is awarded to Prof Wilhelm Jordaan, Extraordinary Professor in the Department of Psychology. The prize is reserved for an eminent publication or series of publications in Afrikaans, or for an extraordinary contribution to science. Prof Jordaan made the field of psychology accessible to the public through his articles on human, societal and religious problems, which have appeared in Afrikaans media. He is the author/co-author of 15 scientific books and 30 articles, and is the editor of two national psychology journals.

The Stals Prize for Multi and Interdisciplinary Teamwork is awarded to Prof Juanita Bornman of the Centre for Augmentative and Alternative Communication. Prof Bornman is an internationally recognised specialist in augmentative and alternative communication whose research focuses on the development of strategies to assist people with disabilities, particularly those who have little or no functional speech. Her efforts have helped to place this important aspect of communication at the centre of special education in South Africa and abroad.

The Toon van den Heever Prize for Legal Science is awarded to Emeritus Prof Johan Scott of the Faculty of Law. As an expert in the field of South African private law, Prof Scott has produced 120 peer-reviewed publications over the course of his career. He is one of a few South African lawyers who can decipher the original sources of common law in Latin and Old Dutch. As an editor, he contributed extensively to, and constructed and expanded on, the encyclopaedic work The Law in South Africa, which is currently one of the most important legal publications in South Africa.

The Medal for Scientific Subject Advancement is awarded to Prof Carolina Koornhof, Executive Director of Finance and Student Administration. Prof Koornhof is an experienced manager, academic and researcher who has been part of higher education in South African for more than 30 years. She developed new accounting modules, new programmes in Afrikaans and English, and applied innovative approaches to education. Prof Koornhof wrote several accounting textbooks to improve the student pass rate and to support education.

The Protea Boekhuis Prize for the Best Cultural History Thesis in Afrikaans is shared by Dr Vicky Heunis for her thesis – ‘Anglo-Boereoorlogboerekrygsgevangenekuns, 1899-1902 (Anglo Boer War prisoner of war art, 1899-1902)’ – and Dr Johan van Zÿl for his thesis – ‘Bethulie 1896-1907, met spesifieke verwysing na die Anglo-Boereoorlog (Bethulie 1896-1907, with specific reference to the Anglo Boer War). They both completed their doctoral studies at the Department of Historical and Heritage Studies.

The Douw Greeff Prize for the Best Article in the Suid-Afrikaanse Tydskrif vir Natuurwetenskap en Tegnologie (South African Magazine for Natural Science and Technology) is awarded to

Marno Grobler, Gerard Puts and Philippus Crouse of the Department of Chemical Engineering, and Hertzog Bissett of the Applied Chemistry Unit at the South African Nuclear Energy Corporation for their article ‘Die effek van die skermgassamestelling in ‘n induktiefgekoppelde plasma: ʼn Eindige-elementanalise (The effect of sheath gas composition in an inductively coupled plasma reactor: A finite-element analysis)’.

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