Stellenbosch University
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SU announces latest group of distinguished professors
Author: Corporate Communication/Korporatiewe Kommunikasie [Rozanne Engel]
Published: 16/10/2020

In pursuit of Stellenbosch University's (SU) commitment to academic excellence and in recognition of SU academics who have reached the pinnacle of achievement in their university careers, the institution has conferred the title of Distinguished Professor upon a group of 37 academics from across nine faculties. The group includes new appointments as well as re-appointments.

The Distinguished Professors are among SU's leading academics who exhibit the ideals that SU pursues according to its Vision 2040 and the Strategic Framework 2019 -2024.

The criteria for eligibility included: being appointed as a professor at SU for at least five years; continuous excellent performance over the last three years; international stature; proven exceptional performance and leadership in higher education in research and publications, postgraduate study leadership, learning and teaching, and transformative social impact.

The appointment is valid for five years and re-appointments can be considered.

Prof Wim de Villiers, Rector and Vice-Chancellor of SU, has congratulated the new Distinguished Professors and said that the title of “Distinguished Professor" was created to recognise SU's very best academics who have reached the pinnacle of achievement in their university careers.

“This initiative of appointing distinguished professors is a very important step in pursuing the excellence that we strive for. This is recognition for you, and confirmation of the University's commitment to academic excellence, as reflected in the good standing that our institution currently maintains internationally," said De Villiers.

The names of the appointees are:

Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

  • Prof Ashraf Kagee (Re-appointment), from the Department of Psychology. His work is broadly located at the nexus of psychology and public health and he has served on several international research boards including serving on a working group of the World Health Organisation.
  • Prof Amanda Gouws (Re-appointment), from the Department of Political Science. She is the SARChI Chair in Gender Politics and the author of several books, which covers her fields of specialisation on South African Politics and Gender Politics and Political Behaviour.

Faculty of Education

  • Prof Lesley le Grange (Re-appointment) is a Member of Council on Higher Education in South Africa. He is the recipient of several awards and has authored/co-authored chapters in over fifty books on education.
  • Prof Yusef Waghid (Re-appointment) is the Editor-in-Chief of South African Journal of Higher Education and to date has produced 372 research publications, 42 books and edited collections. In 2011, he was honoured with the prestigious National Research Foundation Special Recognition Award.

Faculty of Science

  • Prof JAC (André) Weideman (New appointment), from the Department of Mathematical Sciences. He is a recipient of the South African Mathematics Society award for Research Distinction and has been a Professor of Applied Mathematics at SU since 1999.
  • Prof Bert Klumperman (Re-appointment), from the Department of Chemistry and Polymer Science. He is the Chair of Advanced Macromolecular Engineering, and the recipient of the 2016 National Science and Technology Forum (NSTF) lifetime award.
  • Prof Dave Richardson (Re-appointment), from the Department of Botany and Zoology. He is the Director of the DST-NRF Centre of Excellence for Invasion Biology, authored/co-authored over 450 journal papers and book chapters and in 2019, received the Kwame Nkrumah Award for Scientific Excellence from the African Union.
  • Prof Guy Midgley (New appointment), from the Department of Botany and Zoology. He is a leading expert in the field of biodiversity and global change science and was recently awarded the prestigious Humboldt Research Award from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation in Germany.
  • Prof Kathryn H Myburgh (Re-appointment), from the Department of Physiological Sciences. She is a Council Member of the Royal Society of South Africa and is an expert in integrative human biology and exercise physiology.
  • Prof Leonard Barbour (Re-appointment), from the Department of Chemistry and Polymer Science. He heads a Structural Chemistry Laboratory at SU and received the Chancellor's Award for Research in 2017.
  • Prof Leon MT Dicks (Re-appointment), from the Department of Microbiology. He serves on the Advisory Board for Probiotics (Copenhagen, Denmark), and the probiotic entiroTM, was developed by his research group, which is patented in 65 countries (PCT/IB2007/051982) and is available in all major pharmacies across South Africa.
  • Prof Resia Pretorius (New appointment), from the Department of Physiological Sciences. Rated by the National Research Foundation and considered a leading international researcher in her field, Pretorius has published extensively in high impact international academic journals, and has eight book chapters to her name.
  • Prof WH (Emile) van Zyl (Re-appointment), from the Department of Microbiology. He has established collaborations with researchers in Europe and the USA, particularly in the field of biomass conversion to bioethanol. In 2007, he was awarded the prestigious Senior Chair of Energy Research (CoER) in Biofuels and other clean alternative fuels, currently funded as a Tier 1 SARChI Chair by die NRF.

Faculty of Theology

  • Prof Louis Jonker (New appointment) was awarded the Andrew Murray-Desmond Tutu prize for the best Theological publication in South African in the period 2016-2017. He is also the Chair of the Board of Dutch Reformed Lecturers and his research interests focus on Persian period Biblical literature, Biblical history writing and Intercultural Biblical hermeneutics.

Faculty of Engineering

  • Prof Gideon van Zijl (New appointment), from the Department of Civil Engineering. He is an award-winning researcher. Structural design guidelines for cement-based construction materials are being developed in his research group, the Centre for Development of Sustainable Infrastructure.
  • Prof Johann Görgens (New appointment), from the Department of Process Engineering. He is the SARChI Research Chair in Sugarcane Biorefineries and is a core member of the NRF-funded Senior Research Chair in Biofuels/Bioenergy (CoER) since 2007.
  • Prof Maarten J Kamper (New appointment), from the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering. He has co-authored two books and has written over 200 peer reviewed research articles. In 2017, he received the Chancellor's award at SU and the Research Excellence award in 2018.
  • Prof Petrie Meyer (Re-appointment), from the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering. He is Vice-Dean (Research) at the Faculty of Engineering. He has received five Rector's Awards over the years and Stellenbosch University Chancellor's Lifetime Award for Excellence over a career.
  • Prof Steven Bradshaw (New appointment), from the Department of Process Engineering. He received the Stellenbosch University Faculty of Engineering Lecturer of the Year 2016 and has over 1 500 citations to date. His research focus is on Mineral Processing, Hydrometallurgy, Machine Learning and Computational Fluid Dynamics.

Faculty of Agriscience

  • Prof Florian Bauer (Re-appointment), from the Institute for Wine Biotechnology. He is the SA Research Chair in “Integrated Wine Science" and he does research in Yeast Cellular Biology and microbial ecosystems.
  • Prof Kennedy Dzama (Re-appointment), from the Department of Animal Sciences. He is the Deputy Dean of Faculty (Research, Innovation and Postgraduate Studies) and was awarded with the South African Society of Animal Science Top Research scientist Award in 2017. His research has primarily been on the evaluation of indigenous animal genetic resources.
  • Prof Karen Esler (New appointment), from the Department of Conservation Ecology and Entomology. She has been the recipient of several awards over the years, including the Golden Key best lecturer award, in AgriSciences, at SU. Esler's research interests focuses on the influence of plant population and community structure and processes in fynbos, Karoo and riparian vegetation.
  • Professor Umezuruike Linus Opara (Re-appointment) established and is the South African Research Chair in Postharvest Technology. He is the recipient of multiple Awards for exceptional performance in research outputs and the graduation of PhDs.

Faculty of Economics and Management Sciences

  • Prof Christo Boshoff (Re-appointment), from the Department of Business Management. He teaches Marketing and Marketing Research and his research interests are service quality as a competitive strategy, the role of risk perceptions in service marketing, the management of service recovery and scale development.
  • Prof Mark Swilling (Re-appointment), is the Programme Coordinator of the Sustainable Development Programme in the School of Public Leadership; the Academic Director of the Sustainability Institute; and the Co-Director of the Stellenbosch Centre for Complex Systems in Transition.

Faculty of Law

  • Prof Jacques Etienne du Plessis (Re-appointment), from the Department of Private Law. He has co-authored five books and contributed to several academic journals. He is also the recipient of the 2003 Alexander von Humboldt Foundation Scholarship, which was used to conduct research on the comparative law of unjustified enrichment at the Max Planck Institute for Comparative and International Private Law in Hamburg, Germany.
  • Prof Sandra Liebenberg (Re-appointment), from the Department of Public Law. She currently is the HF Oppenheimer Chair in Human Rights Law and has been a member of the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences

  • Prof Bob Mash (New appointment) is the Global Primary Health Care Research Consortium funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. He serves on several local and international boards and committees and in 2019 was recognised with an award from the South African Medical Association for his Extraordinary Contribution to Medicine in South Africa.
  • Prof Anneke Hesseling (Re-appointment), from the Department of Paediatrics and Child Health. She is the Director of the Desmond Tutu TB Centre and in 2018 received the University Newsmaker of the Year Award.
  • Prof Mark Cotton (Re-appointment), from the Department of Paediatrics and Child Health. He is the Chair of Scientific Committee for South-to-South Training and Mentorship and has served on international committees at the World Health Organisation and the CIPHER Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee.
  • Prof Gerhard Walzl (Re-appointment) is the head of the Stellenbosch University Immunology Research Group, which has done research that has identified promising tuberculosis diagnostic and treatment response.
  • Prof Hendrik Schaaf (Re-appointment), from the Department of Paediatrics and Child Health. His main area of research is childhood TB and especially drug-resistant TB.
  • Prof Keymanthri Moodley (New appointment) is the Director: Centre for Medical Ethics and Law. In 2018, she was awarded her fourth NIH grant to develop a Bioethics Leadership programme in Southern Africa.
  • Prof Quinette Louw (New appointment), from the Division of Physiotherapy. In April 2005, she was appointed as the first-ever professor in Physiotherapy at SU to develop research and postgraduate training.
  • Prof Robin Warren (Re-appointment), from the Division of Molecular Biology and Human Genetics. Warren is the recipient of the 2018 Chancellors award for contribution to research.
  • Prof Soraya Seedat (Re-appointment) is the Executive Head of Department of Psychiatry and the South African Research Chair in Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. Seedat is a leading expert in posttraumatic stress disorder and anxiety disorders and has been the recipient of several awards.
  • Prof Taryn Young (New appointment), from the Department of Global Health. She is the Director of the Centre for Evidence-Based Health Care and the Head of Division of Epidemiology and Biostatistics. Young has expertise in evidence-informed health care and specialises in Public Health.