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NRF 'A' Rated Researchers 2013

Professor Drucilla Cornell

Prof Drucilla Cornell is a professor of Political Science, Women’s and Gender Studies, and Comparative Literature at Rutgers University in the United States. She was  a Research Fellow at the Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Study, is a Visiting Professor at Birkbeck College at the University of London, and is an Extraordinary Professor at the University of Pretoria.

Prof Cornell obtained a BA in philosophy and mathematics at Antioch College in Ohio, and the  Juris Doctoral at the University of California, Los Angeles. After serving as a clerk for Judge Warren J Ferguson at the US Court of Appeals Ninth Circuit Court, she moved to the University of Pennsylvania as Assistant Professor. She then became  Professor at the Benjamin N Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University in New York. She was a Whitehouse Senior Fellow at Cornell University, Visiting Member and Mellon Fellow for the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton University before accepting a full Professorship at Rutgers University Law School in New Jersey.

Prof Cornell’s work has looked at areas such as ethical humanism aimed at reviving black existentialism and radical constitutionalism to counter dominating historicism, imperialism and neo-colonialism. She has also researched female and racial subordination and liberalism post-9/11, particularly in the face of wars in regions such as Afghanistan and Iraq. Of even greater importance is her work with the uBuntu Project. Established in 2003, the project promotes the status and importance of indigenous values and ideals across various areas of society.

Prof Cornell has an extensive publishing track record having authored, co-authored and edited more than 20 books, the most recent being The Dignity Jurisprudence of the Constitutional Court of South Africa and uBuntu and the Law: African Ideals and Post-apartheid Jurisprudence. One of her books, Moral Images of Freedom, won the Frantz Fanon Award in 2008. Over the last eight years she has published 15 peer-reviewed articles in journals such as South African Public Law, Journal of Social Philosophy and Hypatia.


Professor Don A Cowan

Prof Cowan is the Director of the Genomics Institute Research Theme  and the Centre for Microbial Ecology and Genomics at the University of Pretoria. From 1985 he lectured at the University College London in the United Kingdom.  After 16 years in London, he accepted the position of Professor of Microbiology in the Department of Biotechnology at the University of the Western Cape, Cape Town, where he was a Senior Professor and Director of the Institute for Microbial Biotechnology and Metagenomics. Prof Don Cowan completed his postdoctoral study in New Zealand at the University of Waikato.

His research activities are mostly linked by the theme of ‘environmental extremes’.  Researchers in his laboratory use microbiological, genomic, metagenomic and ecological techniques to investigate organisms living in deserts and hot pools at high temperatures, in the Antarctic Dry Valleys at very low temperatures and in other extreme environments.  He collaborates with researchers in South Africa, Namibia, Kenya, Zambia, Argentina, New Zealand, the UK, Germany and the USA.

Prof Cowan has published over 230 research papers, review articles and book chapters, and sits on the editorial boards of nine international journals. 

He also holds the post of Adjunct Professor at the University of Waikato (NZ), was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of South Africa in 2007, a Member of the Academy of Sciences of South Africa in 2008, and an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand in 2009. He was awarded the UWC Vice-Rector’s Award for Research Excellence in 2008 and the South African Society for Microbiology Silver Medal in 2009. He is currently President of the Royal Society of South Africa. He was awarded an NRF A-rating in 2013.

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