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SU scientists honoured with SA’s top chemistry awards
Author: Wiida Fourie-Basson
Published: 08/07/2013

​Two leading international scientists in the field of nanostructure materials and polymer sciences at Stellenbosch University have received the highest possible accolades from the South African Chemical Institute.

Prof Bert Klumperman, who specialises in living radical polymerisation and advanced macromolecular architectures, was awarded the Gold Medal of the South African Chemical Institute (SACI) for his "exceptional contributions" to the field. SACI's Gold Medal is regarded as the highest recognition for research excellence and research contributions afforded by the South African chemical fraternity.

Prof Klumperman, who holds the NRF/DST South African Research Chair on Advanced Macromolecular Architectures, has a research group of about 20 post-graduate students and post-doctoral researchers who largely focus on polymers for biomedical applications.

Prof Len Barbour was awarded the SASOL Chemistry Innovator of the Year Medal for "outstandingly innovative scientific contributions in the field of chemistry and chemical technology". Prof Barbour's research field is functional nanostructured materials, where he studies the response of new materials – specifically crystals – to external factors such as heat, light or pressure.

Both Prof Klumperman and Prof Barbour are part of the Department of Chemistry and Polymer Sciences at SU. This is also the only department in the country that offers a postgraduate qualification in polymer sciences.

From SU's Department of Biochemistry, Prof Erick Strauss was awarded SACI's Raikes Medal. The award is made to a young scientist whose research in the field of chemistry shows outstanding promise. Prof Strauss's research group is interested in developing new inhibitors of bacterial enzymes with the ultimate goal of discovering new antibiotics.

Continuing the drum roll, two postgraduate students from SU were recognised by SACI for their achievements. Ms Helene Wahl was one of four students in the country to receive the Sasol Postgraduate Medal for research that is "innovative, independent and enterprising". Ms Nicola Steyn received the James Moir Medal for the best BSc Honours student in chemistry at Stellenbosch University.

The winners were announced after SACI's council meeting this month. The awards will be handed over at one of SACI's events later this year.  Established in 1912, SACI works towards the advancement of science and practice of chemistry in South Africa.

Technical enquiries

Prof Bert Klumperman

Tel: 021 808-3988 (only until 26 July 2013)



Prof Len Barbour

Tel: 021 808-3335



Prof Erick Strauss

Tel: 021 808-5866



Released by Wiida Fourie-Basson, media: Faculty of Science,, 021 808 2684 or 071 099 5721