Page 42 - UCT Research Report 2011

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the signature themes are grounded in existing areas
of internationally recognised excellence, while being
aligned to institutional, regional, and national priorities.
Signature themes have come about in two ways: the
first five signature themes were established at UCT in
2007, through a highly competitive process driven by
the URC. These themes, which have now all evolved into
fully-fledged research entities, are African Cities, Brain
and Behaviour, Drug Discovery, Marine Research, and
Minerals to Metals. More recently, the Vice-Chancellor’s
commitment to establishing a platform for climate research
led to the adoption of climate research as a focus area in
UCT’s current strategic plan, and to the recognition of the
African Climate and Development Initiative (ACDI) as the
sixth signature theme. It is anticipated that others are likely
to follow.
All signature themes produce more than the sum of their
component parts. In accordance with their signature
theme status, they are able to demonstrate the impact of
world-class research on their immediate environment, and
also more broadly on the global South. Evidence that this
excellence is permeating into teaching and the curriculum
takes time to accrue, but it remains high on the agenda.
Two of South Africa’s nine national Centres of Excellence
(CoEs) are fully hosted at UCT (Birds as Keys to
Biodiversity, located in the Percy FitzPatrick Institute
for African Ornithology and c*change, the Centre for
Catalysis, in the Department of Chemical Engineering).
UCT also has particularly close ties to ACCESS (the
Applied Centre for Climate and Earth Systems), which
is hosted at the CSIR, and of which Professor George
Philander of the Department of Oceanography is the
Research Director.
In 2011, UCT became a co-host for the Centre for Biomedical
TB Research (CBTBR), initially located at the universities of
Stellenbosch and Witwatersrand prior to its director, Professor
Valerie Mizrahi, being appointed as Director of UCT’s Institute
of Infectious Disease and Molecular Medicine.
In addition to the CoEs, the Department of Chemical
Engineering has been co-hosting the Hydrogen Catalysis
Competence Centre with Mintek since 2007.
At the end of 2011, there were 69 URC-accredited research
groupings at UCT. These are profiled later in this report.
Since 2009, research groupings, which have been found
through the review process to be socially engaged and to
have international stature, have been deemed eligible for
URC funding support that is ring-fenced for this purpose.
Resources have been made available for postdoctoral
fellowships, and the second round of five awards has
been made through a competitive bidding process.
The groupings that were awarded one postdoctoral
fellowship each during 2011 were:
African Centre for Cities (EBE): Dr Jenny Mbaye;
Brain and Behaviour Initiative (Health Sciences):
Dr Peter Bos;
Centre for Social Science Research (Humanities):
Dr E Gummerson;
UCT Drug Discovery & Development Centre (Science):
Dr G Mugumbate;
UCT/MRC Receptor Biology Research Unit (Health
Sciences): Dr Aron Abera.