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Book celebrates 100 years of natural sciences at SU
Author: Media and communication, Faculty of Science
Published: 25/10/2018

A book which traces the steps of the first pioneers who laid the foundations for training and research in various disciplines in the natural sciences at Stellenbosch University, will be available from 1 October 2018.

The book, A Particular Frame of Mind – Faculty of Science, Stellenbosch University, 1918-2018, also documents the contributions of various individuals to the establishment of research fields such as nuclear physics and polymer science in South Africa.

Prof. Chris Garbers, former professor of organic chemistry from 1958 to 1978 and president of the CSIR from 1980 to 1990, writes in the Foreword that key institutions such as the SU's Faculty of Science have contributed “to transforming South Africa from a mainly rural society to an industrial giant on the African continent".

“The book is a succinct summary covering the past one hundred years, with the exposition of diverse scientific findings in layman's terms, as well as the documentation of anecdotes about various eccentric characters. The book is further enhanced by the insets of colleagues with specialist knowledge and understanding of contemporary developments in science," he continues writing.

This limited edition red linen hard case book is embossed with foil on the front and spine, and contains more than 200 photographs and images from the SU Archive, the Africana section of the SU Library, and various artefacts from departmental collections, including scientific images of historical and current research.

​“The reader will obtain a vivid and striking view of the particular way of thinking of the historical and current natural scientist," explains Professor Piet Swart, emeritus professor at SU and one of the editors of the book.

According to Professor Louise Warnich, the first female dean of the Faculty of Science, the book is an attempt to provide a comprehensive overview of the first one hundred years of tertiary education and research in natural sciences at the University. Several of the department's founding histories have now been documented for the first time.

“In the process several staff members took on the challenge to open storerooms and dust off old documents and equipment. In the Department of Botany and Zoology, for example, we found an expenditure book dating from 1918, with entries documenting the buying of 19 rabbits and 20 doves. We also found the oldest photo to date of the very first professor of mathematics and natural science, Professor George Gordon, surrounded by a group of eight students, dating from circa 1880."

She says the Faculty of Science is very much aware of the scars left by apartheid: “Now, and over the next few decades, we have the opportunity to do things differently. The compilation of this book showed us that what we do today, and how we do it, will make a difference to the lives of those coming after us."

Book specifications

Red linen hard case book with foil embossed on cover and spine, covered with a dust jacket with French folds and individually shrink wrapped. Available in Afrikaans or English.

Paper: Text printed on 157 gsm Gold East Matt

Format: 280mm deep and 280mm wide

Extent: 200 full-colour pages plus endpapers

ISBN English edition: 978-0-7972-1731-7

ISBN Afrikaans edition: 978-0-7972-1730-0

Publication date: October 2018

Price: R780 (discount available on orders of four and more)

How to order the book

To order your copy, send an e-mail to, upon which you will receive an invoice with payment details and information about when and where to collect your copy. If the book must be sent via courier, the cost will be added to the price of the book.