College of Agriculture, Engineering
and Science (CAES)

Prestigious NRF Awards for UKZN Academics

Eight UKZN academics have won awards at the annual National Research Foundation (NRF) ceremony held to recognise and reward South Africa’s top researchers and scientists.

Hosted recently in Pretoria and live-streamed virtually to over 500 guests, the high honours recognise achievements of academics in respect of the quality and impact of their work.

Congratulating the eight academics for their outstanding career achievements and contributions to knowledge creation in South Africa, UKZN Vice-Chancellor and Principal Professor Nana Poku said: ‘We are privileged to be associated with colleagues of this calibre who continue to earn the respect of their peers in different fields. Congratulations to all the award winners and thank you for bringing honour to our University and ensuring our flag of excellence in science and research keeps flying high.’

The award winners are:

•   Dr Alexandré Delport of the School of Life Sciences – Research Excellence Award for Next Generation Researchers 2020

•   Professor Pragashnie Govender of the School of Health Sciences – Research Excellence Award for Early Career/Emerging Researchers 2020

•   Professor Sabiha Essack of the Anti-Microbial Research Unit – Champion of Research Capacity Development and Transformation at South African Higher Education Institutions Award 2021

•   Professor Colin Chapman of the School of Life Sciences for his first NRF “A”-Rating

•   Professor Quarraisha Abdool Karim of the Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa for her second “A”-Rating

•   Professor Fernando Albericio of the School of Chemistry and Physics for his second “A”-Rating

•   Professor Kevin Durrheim of the School of Applied Human Sciences for his first “A”-Rating

•   Professor Steven Johnson of the School of Life Sciences for his third “A”-Rating

‘I am humbled and honoured to have been recognised for mentoring and nurturing the next generation of scientists,’ said Essack.

Said Johnson: ‘I am very pleased to receive this award which indicates that the research from my lab is valued by my scientific peers around the world. South Africa has much to offer in terms of biodiversity, and I plan to continue to address important scientific questions about the origins of species diversity and the key ecological interactions that sustain life.’

Abdool Karim said: ‘I am really pleased that I have retained my previous A-rating status and advanced to the Apex A1 rating within this category.’

The event acknowledges researchers and scientists who are concerned about the advancement of science and technology in South Africa for the greater good of the community. The awards were divided into 10 categories with 68 recipients being honoured.

Words: Hlengiwe Khwela and Nombuso Dlamini

Photographs: Supplied