Researchers Recognised during Annual Awards Ceremony

Scenes from UKZN’s Research Awards event.

UKZN honoured the achievements and contributions of its researchers during the University’s annual awards ceremony.

Opening the event, Dean of Research and Programme Director Professor Urmilla Bob said it was a great pleasure to recognise and reward research undertaken at the University.

In his welcome address, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research Professor Mosa Moshabela highlighted how researchers had been able to continue their work despite the challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Noting how the University depends on research outputs produced, Moshabela said: ‘Sometimes – because we work in silos – it’s not easy as a researcher to see how embedded one is as part of the whole Institution so I just want to remind you of how valued your contribution is and to thank you for your continued efforts.’

Giving the keynote address, Maurice Webb Race Relations Director Professor Paulus Zulu reflected on the South African Language Policy in Higher Education, highlighting how learning was easier for children in their mother tongue as well as reflecting on the lack of development of indigenous languages.

Zulu discussed four observations from post-colonial education: enfranchising the disenfranchised; efforts to find a theory; the absence of historical, temporal and spatial synchronicity, and the question of whether post-colonialism was a sufficient theory upon which to build the future.

‘Examining the four observations is a necessary step in our research direction particularly because the intellectual and economic implications are too severe to be overlooked,’ he said.

UKZN’s Top Published Researcher honour went to Professor Freddie Inambao of UKZN’s College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science.

UKZN’s Top Female Researcher, SARChI Research Chair in Ecosystem Health and Biodiversity Professor Colleen Downs, paid tribute to her many colleagues and students for their input and support in her receiving the award.

Dr Jemma May Hill-Finch and Professor Thabo Msibi won Vice-Chancellor’s Awards which are given to researchers of exceptional quality who are under the age of 40.

The Top Five Most Cited Researchers were Professor Themba Ginindza, Professor Yin-Zhe Ma, Professor Tulio de Oliveira, Professor Benn Sartorius and Professor Ayesha Motala.

Professor Michael John Brooks and Professor Jean Pitot of the College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science; Professor Tulio De Oliveira of the College of Health Sciences; Professor Relebohile Moletsane of the College of Humanities and Professor Donrich Thaldar of the College of Law and Management Studies were acknowledged for achieving the highest grant awards.

Named as National Research Foundation (NRF) A-rated researchers for 2020 were Professor Quarraisha Abdool Karim, Professor Fernando Albericio and Professor Colin Chapman, while Professor Kevin Durrheim and Professor Steven Johnson became NRF A-rated researchers for 2021.

The Top 30 Researchers and Top 10 Published Postgraduate Students were also announced at the function.

Bob said UKZN’s Annual Research Report for 2021 was in its final stages of compilation and would be available electronically soon.

In closing, Moshabela thanked everyone who made the event a success, his team in the research division for their hard work, and guest speaker Zulu ‘for his message on transformation requiring us to search for middle ground’.

Acknowledging the researchers Moshabela said: ‘I want to thank all of you for contributing to the high standing of the University, its sustainability, impact and recognition. Continue to support those around you who are struggling to reach similar milestones… congratulations again and we wish you well!’

Words: Hlengiwe Khwela

Photographs: Sethu Dlamini