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UCT Research Report '11
Dean’s report
The Faculty of Science enjoyed
considerable success in its
research endeavours in a
number of areas during 2011.
To meet the continuing rise in cost of
internationally competitive research, staff
were successful in raising approximately
R141 million in research income to cover
a range of projects, including salaries
for soft-funded staff, postdoctoral
fellows and master’s and PhD bursaries. This is a
particularly noteworthy achievement, given the dwindling
NRF resources for the pure sciences. Of this funding,​
R58 million was received from the NRF and some
R78 million from research contracts with industry,
government, public entities and statutory bodies, and
science councils; with about R28 million being raised
from foreign sources. Of importance to the training of
postgraduate students in our faculty, staff were able to
raise R32 million for bursaries in support of honours,
master’s and PhD students in the faculty.
The number of PhD and postdoctoral researchers remained
high, with 118 postdoctoral fellows spread among the
departments, and 350 PhD students registered in the
faculty. A measure of the success of our postgraduate
training programmes is reflected in the number of master’s
and doctoral graduates produced in the Science faculty
in 2011, with 48 PhDs and 122 master’s degrees being
awarded, 22 percent of the latter with distinction. Two
students who excelled in their postgraduate studies were
Fhumulani Nemulodi (Department of Physics), who was
awarded the prestigious S2A3 Medal for the best master’s
dissertation titled
Third Order Relativistic Fluid Dynamics for
Heavy-Ion Collisions
, and Dr Jasper Slingsby (Department
of Botany), who received the faculty PhD medal for 2011
for his thesis, titled
Ecological Differentiation and the
Evolution and Maintenance of Fynbos Diversity
. Research
publication output from staff and postgraduate students
remained high, with about 900 articles being published in
ISI journals during 2011.
As we continue to strive for excellence and international
competitiveness in the research arena, the faculty is proud
of the latest additions to its current 13 NRF A-rated, 56
B-rated, 45 C-rated, 24 Y-rated, and five P-rated scientists.
The latter, in particular, reflects the growing research
strength of our younger academic staff. Professor Ed
Rybicki of the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology
received an NRF A-rating, while three
young researchers, Dr Amanda Weltman
(Department of Mathematics and Applied
Mathematics), and Dr David Braun and
Dr Shadreck Chirikure from the Department
of Archaeology, received NRF P-ratings
in 2011.
At the university level, three of our more
senior scientists, professors George
Janelidze (Department of Mathematics
and Applied Mathematics), Hans-Peter
Kunzi (Department of Mathematics and
Applied Mathematics), and Ed Rybicki
were honoured by being elected as
fellows of the University of Cape Town in
recognition of their international research standing and
the impact of their research. Professor Janelidze was
recognised for his work in categorical algebra, including
abstract Galois theory, with applications in classical
algebra, geometry and topology; Professor Kunzi for his
work in analytic and categorical topology, focusing on
frame theory and asymmetric topology; and Professor
Rybicki for his work on the use of plants and cell cultures
to make pharmaceutically-important proteins, and in
elucidating the virus-host interactions of grass- and cereal-
infecting geminiviruses.
At a junior level, the faculty was privileged to have
the UCT College of Fellows name two of our younger
staff, Dr Rob Ingle (Department of Molecular and Cell
Biology) and Dr Deena Pillay (Department of Zoology),
as recipients of its 2011 College of Fellows’ Young
Researcher Awards that recognise outstanding scholarly
work by young academics. Dr Ingle’s research area lies
in the interactions between plants and their environment,
particularly in the molecular mechanisms that help them
cope with stresses imposed either by other organisms or
by chemical/physical factors. Dr Pillay’s research interests
focus on inter-tidal and estuarine ecology, with a view
to understanding the role of biological interactions in
structuring marine ecosystems.
An important milestone in the faculty that was reached in
2011 was the 100
anniversary of the Bolus Herbarium
(Department of Botany). A series of lectures by world-
renowned botanists, two exhibitions, and a commemorative
collecting trip were arranged to celebrate the event.
Professor Peter Linder (University of Zurich) gave the
keynote address. Another development of importance to
the faculty was the establishment and URC accreditation
of the H-3D Centre for Drug Discovery & Development,
with Professor Kelly Chibale, Department of Chemistry,
as Director, and the URC accreditation of the Scientific
Computing Research Unit, with Professor Kevin Naidoo,
Faculty of