Dr Andrew Eloka-Eboka and Dr Samuel Iwarere.

Two Young Researchers Earn NRF Rating Awards

Dr Andrew Eloka-Eboka and Dr Samuel Iwarere of UKZN’s School of Engineering have been awarded National Research Foundation (NRF) Y ratings in the category of promising young researchers.

Eloka-Eboka is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Discipline of Mechanical Engineering, while Iwarere is a researcher in the Discipline of Chemical Engineering.

The rating – valid for five years – is recognition for excellent researchers across South Africa awarding those who demonstrate the potential to establish themselves as researchers based on their performances and productivity, quality of research outputs and impact thereof across the global spectra during their early post-doctoral careers.

Eloka-Eboka is an NRF Scarce Skills Development fund Scholar and an Affiliate of the African Academy of Sciences (AAS). He is pursuing multi- and trans-disciplinary research, currently focusing on Green Energy Technologies (biomass, biofuels, bioenergy, and bio-nanotechnology) that are geared towards designing and establishing capabilities to provide long-term sustainable solutions for the South African national priority areas of renewable energy, waste, climate and environment nexus while boosting economic growth.

His work involves assessing green energy through micro-algal technology and from bio-nanomaterials, pioneering research in an emerging research field of bio-nanotechnology for energy and thermal applications.

Eloka-Eboka, who has been at UKZN since 2012 when he began his PhD, was drawn to UKZN by its reputation for being the Premier University of African Scholarship and its excellence in engineering. He praised the University’s research policy and achievements.

‘I am grateful to God who made all things possible,’ he said. ‘To be classified as an NRF-rated researcher is what I have lived to attain at such an early career stage. It will motivate me to do more.’

Iwarere is a researcher and Principal Investigator on a waste water treatment research project funded by the Water Research Commission (WRC). He focuses on extracting contaminants that are difficult to remove from wastewater using conventional treatment methods, conversion of solid waste to high value chemicals, and reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by converting CO2 into value-added chemicals and fuels using Plasma Technology. These areas present benefits for society and contribute to three of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

‘My desire is to improve the quality of life of people, especially in Africa, through my research,’ said Iwarere.

Iwarere, at UKZN since beginning his masters in 2009, was attracted to UKZN by the profile of Professor Deresh Ramjugernath, who supervised his PhD and postdoctoral fellowship. He completed his undergraduate and honours degrees in Industrial Chemistry at the University of Ilorin in Nigeria.

He said he was grateful to God for the recognition, especially since there were very few scientists in South Africa applying plasma technology to solving socio-economic problems.

Words: Christine Cuénod