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UP honours exceptional achievers


The University of Pretoria honoured its exceptional academic achievers and young researchers at its annual Exceptional Academic Achiever Awards in March 2010. Former Minister of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology and current chairperson of the South African Broadcasting Corporation, Dr Ben Ngubane, gave the keynote address.


This year, the Chancellor’s Award for Teaching, which recognises the exceptional performance of an academic in this field, was bestowed on Prof Kobus Maree from the Department of Educational Psychology in the Faculty of Education, who has conducted research on ways in which individuals can be assisted to choose careers and design successful lives.


A researcher’s status as exceptional academic achiever is valid for three years. This year’s recipients were Prof Danie Auret (Physics), Prof Johan Malherbe (Physics), Prof Johann Kirsten (Agricultural Economics, Extension and Rural Development), Prof Louis Nel (Microbiology and Plant Pathology), Prof Brenda Wingfield (Genetics), Prof Nigel Bennett (Zoology and Entomology), Prof Jean Lubuma (Mathematics and Applied Mathematics), Prof Maryna Steyn (Anatomy), Prof Frans Viljoen (Centre for Human Rights), Prof Karin van Marle (Legal History), Prof Andries Engelbrecht (Computer Science), Prof Theo Botha (Information Science), Prof Josua Meyer (Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering), Prof Madeleine du Toit (Materials Science and Metallurgical Engineering) and Prof Xiaohua Xia (Electrical, Electronic and Computer Engineering). The exceptional young researchers were Dr Lyn-Marié Birkholtz (Biochemistry), Prof Sonja Boy (Oral Pathology and Oral Biology), Dr Ronel Ferreira (Educational Psychology) and Dr Benda Hofmeyr (Philosophy).


In addition to the presentation of these awards, recognition was also granted to approximately 64 UP researchers who have been newly rated or had their ratings reevaluated by the National Research Foundation (NRF). The Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Prof Cheryl de la Rey, highlighted the fact that these academics are recognised for their research achievements. “It is important to note that only about a tenth of all academic staff employed at South African universities have NRF ratings. Thus, being rated is in itself a significant achievement,” said Prof De la Rey.


Dr Ngubane mentioned that the NRF gave prominence to academics, not only in South Africa, but also in the rest of the world. “The NRF benchmarks us against the best in the world and ensures quality of research, especially in science, engineering and technology,” said Dr Ngubane.