The National Research Foundation (NRF) has awarded Professor Michael Chimonyo in the Discipline of Animal Science at UKZN a B-rating, recognising him as an internationally acclaimed researcher in his field.
The rating system benchmarks the quality of South African researchers, contributing to the enhancement of a globally competitive science system in the country and encouraging the production of high quality outputs in high impact journals and the training of the next generation of researchers.
The rating includes evaluation by local and international peers and is based on the quality and impact of the researcher’s outputs over the past eight years.
Chimonyo joined the Discipline of Animal Science at UKZN in June 2010 after teaching at the University of Fort Hare for five years, bringing with him his knowledge of pig breeding specifically, but also of a range of livestock in commercial production systems and complex communal systems.
His research has included extensive work on livestock’s adaptability and tolerance to parasites and the production of excellent organic beef and chevon from Nguni cattle and goats. He has also worked on the genetic determination of piglet performance and birth intervals in sows.
He studied at the University of Zimbabwe in his home country, where he completed an MSc in Animal Physiology and a PhD in Animal Breeding.
Chimonyo’s current research focus is in rural communities, working with smallholder farmers and looking at how their livestock are adapted to withstand adverse conditions such as tick infestations, climate change, and water and feed restrictions in order to improve livestock health. He also examines genetic contribution to adaptation of livestock to harsh conditions and employs modelling approaches to determine the influence of dietary fibre on the voluntary intake of pigs and individual nutrients in growing pigs.
Chimonyo featured on the University’s list of top published researchers in 2011, 2014, 2015 and 2017, while his commitment to teaching excellence led him to complete a postgraduate diploma in Higher Education and Training with the University of Fort Hare.
On receiving his new rating, Chimonyo gave credit to his students, saying it was a privilege to work with individuals who are willing to be pushed to achieve the best that they can.
Words and photograph: Christine Cuénod