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The South African Women in Sci­ence Awards (SAWiSA), an an­nual coun­try­wide cel­e­bra­tion of women in sci­ence and tech­nol­ogy led by the De­part­ment of Sci­ence and Tech­nol­ogy (DST), will take place on 23 Au­gust in Lim­popo. The DST has been host­ing SAWiSA since 2003. 7KH DZDUGV SURÀOH ZRPHQ VFLHQWLVWV DQG re­searchers who serve as role models for younger women, and en­cour­age and re­ward younger women who are start­ing their ca­reers as re­searchers and sci­en­tists. The theme for the 2018 SAWiSA event is “100 Years of Mama Albertina Sisulu: Women United in Mov­ing South Africa For­ward”. Min­is­ter of Sci­ence and Tech­nol­ogy Mmamoloko Kubay­iNgubane will host this year’s event which will once again show­case amaz­ing ZRPHQ GRLQJ VLJQLÀFDQW ZRUN LQ VFLHQFH tech­nol­ogy and in­no­va­tion.


Last year’s win­ners in­cluded a num­ber of amaz­ing women who scooped top hon­ours in the hu­man­i­ties and so­cial sciences and the nat­u­ral sciences cat­e­gories.


won the hu­man­i­ties and so­cial sciences cat­e­gory. Prof Mavhandu-Mudzusi is cur­rently a full pro­fes­sor in the De­part­ment of Health Stud­ies at the Uni­ver­sity of South Africa (Unisa) and the Chair­per­son of the Re­search Ethics Com­mit­tee of Unisa’s Col­lege of Hu­man Sciences. Prof Mavhandu-Mudzusi holds a PhD in Pub­lic Ad­min­is­tra­tion from the Uni­ver­sity of Venda. Pro­fes­sor Mavhandu-Mudzusi’s main re­search ob­jec­tives cen­tre on the re­duc­tion of new HIV in­fec­tions and im­prov­ing the qual­ity of life of peo­ple liv­ing with HIV in ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties. In­te­gral to these ob­jec­tives is the work that Prof Mavhandu-Mudzusi does in ad­vo­cat­ing for the rights of les­bian, gay, bi­sex­ual, transgender, in­ter­sex and queer (LGBTIQ) stu­dents. This has led Prof Mavhandu-Mudzusi to de­velop an ad­vo­cacy, care and sup­port model for LGBTIQ stu­dents, and a man­age­ment model for staff and stu­dents liv­ing with HIV. The im­ple­men­ta­tion of these models has as­sisted in eco­nom­i­cally em­pow­er­ing both women liv­ing with HIV, and ho­mo­sex­ual and gen­der non-con­form­ing women in the chang­ing world of the work­place. With an NRF C3 rat­ing, Prof Mavhandu-Mudzusi is the au­thor of 29 peer-re­viewed pub­li­ca­tions, a book chap­ter and 23 peer-re­viewed con­fer­ence papers. She is in­volved in a multi-coun­try and multi-uni­ver­sity project en­ti­tled “Desta­bil­is­ing Heteronor­ma­tiv­ity in the South­ern Africa

De­vel­op­ment Com­mu­nity (SADC) In­sti­tu­tions of Higher Ed­u­ca­tion”. Prof Mavhandu-Mudzusi is the prin­ci­pal in­ves­ti­ga­tor in a col­lab­o­ra­tive cross-na­tional re­search project with the Uni­ver­sity of Liège and Al­liant In­ter­na­tional Uni­ver­sity on the at­ti­tudes of het­ero­sex­ual uni­ver­sity stu­dents to­wards same-sex mar­riage and par­ent­ing.

Prof Mavhandu-Mudzusi has suc­cess­fully su­per­vised three PhD and 15 Mas­ter’s stu­dents, and is cur­rently su­per­vis­ing 10 PhD and 10 Mas­ter’s stu­dents at Unisa, in ad­di­tion to men­tor­ing two doc­toral stu­dents in the New Gen­er­a­tion of Aca­demics Pro­gramme (nGAP) at Se­fako Mak­gatho and Lim­popo uni­ver­si­ties.

A pro­fes­sional nurse reg­is­tered with the South African Nurs­ing Coun­cil, Prof Mavhandu-Mudzusi is a MAC AIDS Fund Lead­er­ship Ini­tia­tive fel­low of Columbia Uni­ver­sity; the Uni­ver­sity of Cal­i­for­nia, Los An­ge­les and the Hu­man Sciences Re­search Coun­cil. She is the guest edi­tor for two jour­nals, as well as a re­viewer for sev­eral in­ter­na­tional and lo­cal jour­nals and con­fer­ences.

PRO­FES­SOR COLLEEN DOWNS won the nat­u­ral sciences cat­e­gory. She is cur­rently a full pro­fes­sor of Zool­ogy in the School of Life Sciences and a fel­low at the Uni­ver­sity of KwaZulu-Na­tal (UKZN). Prof Downs holds a NRF

South African Re­search Chair in Ecosys­tem Health and Bio­di­ver­sity in KwaZulu-Na­tal and the Eastern Cape. She holds a PhD in Zool­ogy from UKZN.

Prof Downs is a ter­res­trial ver­te­brate bi­ol­o­gist with broad and in­ter­dis­ci­pli­nary re­search in­ter­ests. These in­clude con­ser­va­tion, ecol­ogy, phys­i­ol­ogy and be­hav­iour of ter­res­trial ver­te­brates (herps, birds and mam­mals) in un­pre­dictable en­vi­ron­ments and with chang­ing land use. Her other in­ter­est is sci­ence ed­u­ca­tion, par­tic­u­larly prob­lems ex­pe­ri­enced by Bi­ol­ogy stu­dents and strate­gies to ad­dress such prob­lems. Her other con­tri­bu­tion has been in the de­vel­op­ment of re­search ca­pac­ity, par­tic­u­larly at both un­der­grad­u­ate and post­grad­u­ate lev­els.

Prof Downs is the au­thor of over 264 in­ter­na­tional peer­re­viewed pub­li­ca­tions and six book chap­ters. Prof Downs has es­tab­lished a strong in­ter­dis­ci­pli­nary re­search group at UKZN, and cur­rently su­per­vises 15 PhD and 16 MSc stu­dents, and men­tors five post­doc­toral fel­lows. She has suc­cess­fully su­per­vised 35 PhD and 46 MSc stu­dents. Prof Downs has also su­per­vised ex­change stu­dents from La Réu­nion, Kon­stanz, John Hop­kins, Liver­pool and Am­s­ter­dam uni­ver­si­ties.

The awards also cel­e­brate ris­ing stars in sci­ence, tech­nol­ogy and in­no­va­tion like PRO­FES­SOR TRI­CIA

NAICKER. She is UKZN’s youngest as­so­ciate pro­fes­sor in the Col­lege of Health Sciences and Aca­demic Leader (HOD) for the Dis­ci­pline of Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal Sciences.

Prof Naicker com­pleted her PhD in an area (asym­met­ric organocatal­y­sis) that was the first to be ex­plored in Africa.

Prof Naicker’s fully pub­lished th­e­sis and aca­demic ef­forts won her the 2011 DST Women in Sci­ence doc­toral fel­low­ship. Her re­search out­puts en­dorsed the pres­ti­gious Op­pen­heimer post­doc­toral award, which she pur­sued at Aarhus Uni­ver­sity, Den­mark un­der the guid­ance of worl­drenowned leader Prof KA Jør­gensen (H- in­dex 90). Prof Naicker was the first can­di­date from the African con­ti­nent to be ac­cepted into this es­teemed re­search fa­cil­ity.

She was ap­pointed as a se­nior lec­turer at UKZN in 2013. Based on her spe­cialised ex­per­tise and as a pi­o­neer in the field, the highly ranked Catal­y­sis and Pep­tide Re­search

Unit at UKZN be­gan col­lab­o­rat­ing with her as the first woman to join their team. Af­ter a short time, Prof Naicker be­came a prin­ci­ple in­ves­ti­ga­tor in the unit and took over the lead­er­ship of the syn­thetic divi­sion for drug discovery. She has thus far se­cured more than R5 mil­lion in fund­ing as main/co-ap­pli­cant and has grad­u­ated 10 MSc and four PhD stu­dents as main/co-su­per­vi­sor. She is cur­rently su­per­vis­ing five MSc and three PhD stu­dents and men­tor­ing three post­doc­toral fel­lows.

Prof Naicker has a re­mark­able 72 in­ter­na­tional peer­re­viewed pub­li­ca­tions. In ad­di­tion, she serves as an edi­tor for the South African Jour­nal of Chem­istry. She main­tains the im­por­tance of ac­tive re­search through the

men­tor­ship of younger aca­demics/post­grads by ini­ti­at­ing col­lab­o­ra­tions (lo­cal and in­ter­na­tional) with emerg­ing re­searchers as well as school learn­ers to fur­ther their stud­ies. Her cur­rent re­search in­ter­ests are fo­cused to­ward method de­vel­op­ment in or­ganic syn­the­sis of bi­o­log­i­cally im­por­tant in­ter­me­di­ates/drugs within the field of an­tibac­te­ri­als. This work has led to a patent of in­no­va­tive new mol­e­cules tar­get­ing drug-re­sis­tant bac­te­ria which is cur­rently a se­vere global epi­demic.

The DST is also com­mit­ted to en­sur­ing that the next gen­er­a­tion of sci­en­tist and re­searchers are well-trained and sup­ported. The an­nual awards in­clude cat­e­gories that re­ward out­stand­ing stu­dent talent.

Last year, KENEILWE HLAHANE won the DST Fel­low­ship in the Mas­ter’s cat­e­gory. She ob­tained her BSc Ge­ol­ogy de­gree from UKZN. She went on to com­plete a BSc Hon­ours de­gree in Geo­graphic In­for­ma­tion Sys­tems (GIS) at the Uni­ver­sity of Cape Town (UCT) and is cur­rently en­rolled as a Mas­ter’s stu­dent in GIS and Re­mote Sens­ing at the same uni­ver­sity.

Miss Hlahane’s MSc re­search forms part of the Earth Ob­ser­va­tion Na­tional Eu­troph­i­ca­tion Mon­i­tor­ing Pro­gramme which is led by CyanoLakes and funded by the South African Wa­ter Re­search Com­mis­sion (WRC).

Her Mas­ter’s project fo­cuses on Mon­i­tor­ing Eu­troph­i­ca­tion us­ing GIS and Satel­lite Re­mote Sens­ing in the Vaal River, Gaut­eng. Eu­troph­i­ca­tion is a wa­ter pol­lu­tion prob­lem that de­te­ri­o­rates wa­ter qual­ity.

Miss Hlahane’s re­search is im­por­tant be­cause it aims to find new meth­ods of study­ing the wa­ter qual­ity in rivers and the study will present new meth­ods of mon­i­tor­ing wa­ter qual­ity us­ing data ob­tained from re­mote sens­ing satel­lites. She has pre­sented pre­lim­i­nary re­sults of her MSc dis­ser­ta­tion to Rand Wa­ter and WRC. She has also as­sisted as a GIS in­tern in a project as­sess­ing the acid mine drainage pol­lu­tion at Tweelop­iesspruit, Gaut­eng.

Miss Hlahane was awarded the Esri Young Scholar Award 2017 for South Africa. As the win­ning young scholar, Miss Hlahane pre­sented her re­search at the Esri In­ter­na­tional User Con­fer­ence in San Diego, United States of Amer­ica in July 2017. She rep­re­sented Esri South Africa at a spe­cial ex­hi­bi­tion at the con­fer­ence for lead­ing stu­dents from around the world who have shown ex­cel­lence in re­search as­so­ci­ated with us­ing GIS Esri soft­ware.

Miss Hlahane con­trib­uted a chap­ter to a book en­ti­tled Man­age­ment and Mit­i­ga­tion of Acid Mine Drainage. Her work has also been pub­lished in Sci­ence To­day mag­a­zine, in an ar­ti­cle “Every Drop Counts: Watch­ing Wa­ter from Space”. The ar­ti­cle was se­lected as part of the best post­grad­u­ate sci­ence writ­ing com­pe­ti­tion in 2016.

Miss Hlahane was also awarded with stu­dent con­fer­ence schol­ar­ships to present her MSc work at the In­ter­na­tional Sym­po­sium on Re­mote Sens­ing of the En­vi­ron­ment, Tsh­wane in May 2017. She was awarded with a schol­ar­ship to par­tic­i­pate in a sum­mer school by the In­ter­na­tional Al­liance of Re­search Uni­ver­si­ties (IARU) in 2016, to­gether with schol­ars from var­i­ous uni­ver­si­ties such as Copen­hagen, Ox­ford and Cam­bridge. The course pre­sented sus­tain­able wa­ter man­age­ment in Africa.

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