Stellenbosch University
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Postdoctoral Research Fellows and mentors celebrated for their exceptional performance
Author: Division for Research Development
Published: 05/09/2022

​​Postdoctoral Research Fellows are a key priority in the strategic vision of Stellenbosch University (SU). We pride ourselves in the development and research excellence of our Postdoctoral Research Fellows who contribute to our research productivity and impact in Africa and beyond. In addition, the experiences and development of Postdoctoral Research Fellows are facilitated by good mentorship and infrastructure support. Mentors have a powerful and important role in shaping the future and career trajectory of postdoctoral research fellows.

SU is proud to host 356 Postdoctoral Research Fellows in 2022.  The fellows are distributed across all faculties, with the majority in Science, Health and Medical Sciences, Arts and Social Sciences, Agrisciences and Engineering. We have an almost equal distribution of national and international postdocs, and an equal distribution by gender.

In its strategic focus towards becoming a leading research university in Africa, Stellenbosch University is invested in developing young researchers such as these who drive impactful research in South Africa, the continent and the rest of the world.

SU has ambitious plans to grow the postdoc cohort to 600 within the next two years, in line with the University strategy and vision to have global impact.

The contribution of postdoctoral fellows to academic performance at the University is significant. Recognising this, Prof Eugene Cloete, past DVC: Research, Innovation and Postgraduate Studies, launched the Postdoc Fellow Award in 2017 to honour the top-performing postdoctoral fellows at the University. Fellows are measured on the academic track record in terms of publication numbers, conference presentations and other outputs; their grants and funds raising; academic service with regard to teaching and student supervision; peer-reviewing in the academic community; and community service. The award categories were extended in 2022 to also include awards for hosts and included the following:

Distinguished Postdoc Mentor (2017-2021): Presented every 5 years, this award recognises mentorship excellence with regards the number of Postdoctoral Research Fellows supported over a period of 5 years, and the financial investment in fellowship amounts. The cut-off was selection was set at 20 Postdoctoral Research Fellows.

Postdoctoral Research Fellow of the Year: For the purpose of recognition with regards to accredited publications, we take two categories into account, namely (i) Postdoctoral researchers making the biggest contributions in terms of the publication subsidy units (PUs) of the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) (cut-off this year was 1 for individual author claimed PUs and 3 for total PUs claimed) and (ii) Postdoctoral researchers who produced the highest number of accredited research publications in collaboration with their national and international research partners and students (cut-off this year was 5).

Eugene Cloete Outstanding Postdoc Mentor Award: Named in honor of the passion and investment in Postdocs by Prof Eugene Cloete, this award (by nomination) honors Hosts of Postdoctoral Research Fellows for their excellence in leadership, commitment to Postdoctoral Researcher development and excellence in the advancement of future research.

DVCs Top 20 Postdoctoral Research Fellows 2022: These awards recognises postdoctoral research fellows who have contributed to research, scholarship and community through publications, grants awarded, participation in supervision and teaching, engagements with community, government and industry.

The following postdoctoral research fellows and mentors received awards for 2022: 


Nana Akua Achiaa Adom-AboagyeCentre for Sport Leadership
HeathBeckettBotany and Zoology // School for Climate Studies
Melanie Cilliers (née Deist)AVReQ
Beatrix CoetzeePlant Pathology and School for Data Science and Computational Thinking
Jafaru EgieyaChemical Engineering
Dominique Eugene Psychiatry
Frans EversonMedical Physiology
Chenaimoyo Lufutuko Faith Katiyatiya Animal Sciences
Margaret Nolan Molecular Biology and Human Genetics
Anna OkunolaMolecular Biology and Human Genetics
Matsepo RamaboliMedicine (The African Microbiome Institute is Transitioning to Biomedical Sciences)
Bridget Rennie-SalonenMusic
Saumik SamantaEarth Science
Fariborz ShaahmadiProcess Engineering
WilmaVan RensburgBiochemistry
Odelia van StrypSport Science
Julia Van VeldenCentre for Sustainability Transitions/Centre for Invasion Biology
Mzingaye Brilliant XabaSociology and Social Anthropology
Mthokozisi Kwazi ZumaHuman Nutrition


Distinguished postdoc mentors

Prof Len BarbourChemistry and Polymer Science
Prof Wayne DermanInstitute of Sport Science and Exercise Medicine
Prof Barry GreenAIMS/Mathematics
Prof Johann GörgensProcess Engineering
Prof Cang HuiMathematics
Prof Thomas NieslerElectrical and Electronic Engineering
Prof Linus OparaHorticultural Science                                     


Prof Cloete mentors

Dr Bernard BekkerElectrical and Electronic Engineering
Dr Marisa KlopperDivision of Molecular Biology and Human Genetics
Prof Michele MillerMolecular Biology and Human Genetics
Prof Carine SmithMedicine, Division of Clinical Pharmacology
Prof Hans StrijdomDivision of Medical Physiology
Prof Richard WallsCivil Engineering


Postdoc of the year

JC BrownJCInstitute of Sport and Exercise Medicine
OC ChikwanhaOCAnimal Sciences
CAG LaurenziCAGGlobal Health
T KasekeTFood science (consolidoc)


  • If you would like to find out more about postdocs and postdoc opportunities at SU, please contact Dr Palesa Natasha Mothapo, Head: Postdoctoral Research Support, on

 *Photo: Prof Eugene Cloete and Dr Palesa Mothapo with a group of postdocs that received awards