The Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences is committed to produce research outputs of an exceptionally high quality. This is substantiated by the fact that almost 50% of the University of Pretoria’s Exceptional Achievers, as well as NRF-rated academics, come from this Faculty.
The Faculty experienced a significant growth in the number of researchers recognised internationally for their contributions. The Faculty has more than 100 scientists who have been rated by the National Research Foundation (NRF).
In relation to postgraduate research, the Faculty sees its role as offering high-quality training to primarily full-time, on-campus postgraduate students who can make a significant contribution to building our research programmes. It is in particularly noteworthy that in regards to the fields of Plant and Animal Sciences as well as Agricultural Science the University of Pretoria is currently rated the number one South African University according to the ISI Field Rankings and number two in the field of Environment and Ecology. We believe that our academics should be evaluated by their international peers through the NRF rating system in order to ensure that we continuously develop and improve our international standing as scientists.
The Faculty has been extremely successful in creating highly relevant multidisciplinary research and postgraduate programmes by using the model of Institutes and Centres as effective instruments to increase the production of quality research outputs and students. In this model different departments within the Faculty and in some cases across faculties participate (UPWI, MRI, FABI and CEEPA are good examples).
In terms of buildings and research facilities the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences was successful (with major support from UP executive) in obtaining from DHET significant funds to build the R100m Plant Sciences Complex at UP. The project started early in 2010 and the Plant Sciences Complex was officially opened on 17 January 2012 and is located to the north of the existing Forestry and Agricultural Biotechnology Institute (FABI).
The new facilities will not only increase the potential for further growth, but will also enhance research collaboration in the various research focus areas of plant sciences in a modern building with research laboratories that are dedicated to conducting innovative work in fields such as ecology, medicinal plant science, plant biotechnology and taxonomy. For example South Africa’s indigenous plants have many strategies to survive harsh environmental conditions and pathogens, some even produce compounds to out compete other plant species for survival. The vision of the plant scientists is to potentially transfer some of these mechanisms or genes that control these processes safely to the crops that feed us and thus increase the yields of these crops. In addition plant scientists are studying indigenous plants with the aim of finding medicines to cure some of the serious infectious diseases that are a threat to the health of South Africans.