University of Pretoria: UP researchers celebrated at National Research Foundation Awards

University of Pretoria (UP) researchers were among those celebrated at the 2021 National Research Foundation (NRF) awards earlier this week (November 2).

Seven UP researchers and academics were honoured during the event.

The awards, which are hosted annually, are aimed at celebrating recent outstanding achievements made by individuals and teams whose excellence has significantly advanced science for the benefit of society. Their internationally competitive work is assessed for, among other things, the contribution to the field of study focusing on quality and impact. One of the objectives of the awards is to encourage the continued culture of advancing South Africa’s scientific knowledge and technological innovation by rewarding those that make use of research for the advancement and betterment of humanity.

The event was hosted with a limited audience from Pretoria and live-streamed to over 500 viewers. The NRF celebrated 68 awardees across 10 categories.

Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, Dr Blade Nzimande attended the ceremony virtually to congratulate the awardees. “To illustrate our continued commitment to science, technology and innovation, the Department of Science and Innovation has developed a new policy framework on science and technology. The Decadal Plan on Science, Technology and Innovation will serve as an initial 10-year implementation plan from 2020-2030. To practically demonstrate our capacity as a government working together with the National System of Innovation, we have responded to the COVID-19 pandemic in line with the vision of the Decadal Plan. Our researchers committed their expertise and resources to developing solutions to the pandemic and monitoring its impact locally, but also contributing to the global body of knowledge”.

Dr Steven Hussey was awarded a P-rating, Professors James Ogude and Michael Bruford received their first A-rating, Professors Brenda Wingfield and Yves van de Peer received their second A-rating and Professors Johannes van Oort and Charles van Onselen received their third and fourth A-rating, respectively.

NRF Chief Executive Officer Dr Fulufhelo Nelwamondo also reflected on the progress made by scientists over the past few months: “The increasing challenges faced due to the COVID-19 outbreak as well as other societal challenges have not only underscored the importance of research in society, but also shone a very bright light on the ability of our scientists, both established and those just starting out on their research paths, to rise to the occasion. We have seen sterling work in a broad spectrum of areas including vaccine research, the development of diagnostics, monitoring and modelling of the spread of the pandemic, health policy research and science advocacy as well as improved opportunities for public engagement with science,” he said.

UP Vice-Chancellor and Principal Professor Tawana Kupe extended his congratulations to the researchers for their impactful research: “I wish to join in on congratulating all these hardworking individuals for their achievement, but also for using their research to contributions for the betterment of all,” he said.

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