College of Agriculture & Environmental Sciences

And it's a "Science Oscar" win for…

Dr Vhahangwele Masindi (Research fellow: CAES, Unisa) received the TW Kambule-NSTF Award: Emerging Researcher on 30 July 2020 at the NSTF-South32 Awards.

Unisa congratulates Dr Vhahangwele Masindi, who received the TW Kambule-NSTF Award: Emerging Researcher on 30 July 2020 at the gala event of the NSTF-South32 Awards, the so-called "Science Oscars" of South Africa.

Masindi, who is a research scientist at Magalies Water and a research fellow in Unisa’s College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES), says he is ecstatic to be recognised for this prestigious award. "I would like to thank the NSTF for recognising my work and for this national accolade, and everyone who has participated in my research journey. This award should serve as a motivation to upcoming and emerging researchers. The formula is simple: hard work, dedication and commitment."

Through sustainable and eco-friendly initiatives that foster the concept of a circular economy, Masindi’s technologies firmly address the phenomenon of sustainable development.

The virtual gala event was a first in the 22-year history of this annual celebration of South African excellence through the flagship project of the National Science and Technology Forum (NSTF).

Outstanding contributions to science, engineering and technology and innovation (SETI) were awarded and celebrated in the following broad areas under 13 categories:

  • Scientific research
  • Innovation
  • Management and related activities
  • Capacity development in engineering research
  • Environmental sustainability and biodiversity conservation
  • Water research and innovation
  • Data management
  • Science communication for awareness and outreach

Speaking at the event, Jansie Niehaus, Executive Director of the NSTF, said that the Covid-19 pandemic had made the importance of science even more clear, and also highlighted the lengthy time investment that was needed for research.

All the award winners


Lifetime Award

Prof Michèle Ramsay - Professor: Human Genetics; Director: Sidney Brenner Institute of Molecular Bioscience; and Chair: Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) / National Research Foundation (NRF) South African Research Chair Initiative (SARChI): Bioinformatics and Genomics of African Populations, University of the Witwatersrand (Wits)

For her pioneering genomic medicine approaches in Africa and leading the transcontinental study on factors that contribute to African diseases.


TW Kambule-NSTF Award: Researcher

Prof Christine Lochner - Co-Director: South African Medical Research Council Unit on Risk and Resilience in Mental Disorders, Department (Department) of Psychiatry, Stellenbosch University (SU)

For her research into neuropsychiatric disorders, including obsessive-compulsive and related disorders, which fosters a multi-disciplinary approach, incorporating a biopsychosocial focus.


TW Kambule-NSTF Award: Emerging Researcher

Prize sponsor: proSET (Professionals in SET), a sector of the NSTF representing professional bodies and learned societies

Dr Vhahangwele Masindi - Research Scientist: Magalies Water, Principal Researcher: Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), and Research Fellow: University of South Africa; and Part-time Lecturer: University of Venda

For his specialisation in the valorisation and beneficiation of wastewater through drinking water reclamation and minerals synthesis. 

Prof Richard Walls - Associate Professor: Fire Engineering Research Unit, SU

For conducting research and education to improve informal settlement fire safety as well as structural fire design—both crucial to ensuring safety in our communities.


Management Award

Prof Judith Kinnaird - Associate Professor and Director: Economic Geology Research Unit; and Co-Director: DSI Centre of Excellence for the Study of Mineral and Energy Deposits, School of Geosciences, Wits

For directing economic geology research studies on metals for everyday needs now and for the future.


Engineering Research Capacity Development Awards

Sponsor: Eskom since 2003

Prof Josua P Meyer - Professor and Head: Department of Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering; and Chair: School of Engineering, Built Environment and Information Technology, University of Pretoria

For developing large numbers of engineering research graduates of the highest quality.

Dr Abimbola Olukemi Windapo - Associate Professor: Department of Construction Economics and Management, University of Cape Town

For her research of construction business and management that confronts the problems of poor project and organisation performance from a practice perspective.


NSTF-Lewis Foundation Green Economy Award

Sponsor: The Lewis Foundation since 2019

Sharksafe (Pty) Ltd—CEO and Co-Inventor: Professor Conrad Matthee, Department of Botany and Zoology, SU

For developing the SharkSafe BarrierTM, the first shark-specific barrier which is eco-friendly and can protect swimmers and surfers without harming marine life.


NSTF-Water Research Commission (WRC) Award

Sponsor: WRC since 2017

Prof Faizal Bux - Director and Professor: Institute for Water and Wastewater Technology; and Chair: DSI/NRF SARChI: Wastewater Treatment, Durban University of Technology

For researching wastewater as a resource and not a burden to society.


Data for Research Award

South African Population Research Infrastructure Network (SAPRIN) - Co-Directors: Professor Mark Collinson and Dr Kobus Herbst, Wits Rural Campus, Mpumalanga

For collectively conceiving, developing and implementing SAPRIN, which produces up-to-date information on health and socio-economic wellbeing, representative of South Africa's (SA) population, for scientific analysis, embedding research projects and policy evaluation.


Innovation Award: Corporate Organisation

The Smart Spectrum Sharing Team - Team Leader and Chief Research Scientist: Dr Fisseha Mekuria, CSIR

For developing the Smart Spectrum Sharing Technology (S3T) for a Smarter ICT Infrastructure and Digital Inclusion.


Innovation Award: Small, Medium and Micro Enterprise

Sponsor: National Intellectual Property Management Office (NIPMO) since 2019

Memeza Shout (Pty) Ltd - Director: Thulile Mthethwa

For reducing crime, improving the South African Police Service (SAPS) service levels and creating jobs through innovative communication technology and a private/public partnership business model.


Communication Award

Prof Jeanine Marnewick - Research Chair: Biotechnology and Director: Applied Microbial and Health Biotechnology Institute, Cape Peninsula University of Technology

For leading a team that promotes rooibos tea, to be included in a personal daily regime as a health promoting option, supported by science.


Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) Award

Mothong African Heritage - Founder Member, Executive Director and Overseer: Traditional Doctor Ephraim C Mabena

For uniting scientists, government and the community through the Mothong African Heritage in nature conservation, technology innovation for socio-economic development using indigenous knowledge systems and modern sciences.


Special Annual Theme Award: Plant Health

Prof Michael Wingfield - Professor: Forestry and Agricultural Biotechnology Institute; and Adviser to the Executive, University of Pretoria

For being globally recognised as a SA plant pathologist for a lifetime of contributions to the identification and management of plant diseases, as well as the education and mentorship of large numbers of plant pathologists and entomologists globally.

* Compiled by Sharon Farrell, Editor, Department of Institutional Advancement


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Publish date: 2020/08/03