Page 37 - UCT Research Report 2011

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In recent years, Dr Chirikure has contributed to exploring
the variability in pre-colonial techniques of mining and
methods of extractive metallurgy. The main outcome of the
research is that sub-Saharan mining and metal-working was
context-specific and full of local experimentation. These
technologies were embedded in society. They strongly
coalesced with other factors such as trade to stimulate
the rise and florescence of urban centres such as Great
Zimbabwe, Jenne Jenno, and Buganda. The metals were
exported to Persia, India, China, and Indonesia thereby
promoting early forms of global integration. The data from
this research have been used for sustainably managing and
protecting pre-colonial mining and metal-working heritage
and the social contexts in which they were practiced.
Dr Amanda Weltman
: Shining a
new light on dark energy
Dr Weltman’s research deals with the bridging
of string theory, cosmology and gravity, with the
goal of using the cosmos as a testing ground
for fundamental physics. She is best-known for
proposing chameleon particles to explain dark
energy. The chameleon mechanism allows a
particle to change its behaviour depending
on the environment and thus makes the theory
very testable in an array of environments.
This theory is one of the hottest new topics in
contemporary theoretical cosmology.
Description of NRF rating categories
A - World leaders renowned for the high quality and impact of their
B - Researchers with considerable international stature.
C - Established researchers who produce research of an international
P - Young researchers (normally younger than 35 years of age) who
obtained their doctoral degrees not more than five years ago and
who, on the basis of exceptional performance, are recognised
internationally as having the potential to become future leaders in
their field.
Y - Young researchers (40 years or younger) who obtained their
doctoral degrees not more than five years ago and who, on the
basis of their performance, are recognised as showing promise of
establishing themselves as researchers within a five-year period
after evaluation.
L - The L category is being phased out by the NRF.
While making up the largest component of the energy
budget in our universe, dark energy is the least
understood ingredient of cosmology today, so this work is
an opportunity for South Africa to contribute at the cutting
edge of this field. Dr Weltman’s theory may be testable at
the MeerKAT and the Square Kilometre Array, as well as
through direct detection experiments on Earth. She has
recently turned her attention to ways to test the theory via
astrophysical sources, incorporating the possibility of a
chameleon helioscope – turning to the sun to shed light
on this dark particle.
2007 2008 2009 2010 2011
Figure 5
Number of NRF-rated researchers at UCT, 2007 to 2011