Welcome to Stellenbosch University

Research focusses in our departments​

Researc​h Overview​​Our faculty consists of eight dynamic departments, with the Department of Mathematical Sciences consisting of the three divisions: Mathematics, Applied Mathematics and Computer Science.​​​​


The Department of Biochemistry was established in 1974 when the agricultural biochemistry research group in the Faculty of Agriculture joined forces with the biochemistry research group in the Faculty of Science. Today, the spirit of enquiry typical of a new discipline is still seen in all our well-established laboratories.

We are positioned at the interface between chemistry and biology, moving from molecular structures via macro-molecular activity to biological function. We undertake, inter alia, applied studies in wastewater treatment, potato virus spread, contraceptives, drug discovery and malaria, and fundamental work in Systems Biology and P450 function. The department is also home to the South African research chair (SARChI) in Mechanistic Modelling of Health and Epidemiology.

Research fields

Immunology; Plant Bioinformatics and Molecular Systematics; Discovery and development of novel antibiotics and biocides; Steroids; Systems Biology; Epigenomics and Bioinformatics.


The Department of Botany and Zoology were founded as separate academic departments in 1903. Today the Department of Botany and Zoology, formed in 2005, is home to a vibrant community of 34 staff members, 24 postdoctoral fellows and a large postgraduate student body of nearly a hundred full-time students.

We strive to achieve a deep understanding of the unique southern African flora and fauna and particularly its societal value in an African and global context. We achieve this through world-leading research directed at preserving the diversity of animal and plant life. The department hosts the Millenium Trust Chair in Invasive Species Management in Protected Areas and the SU School for Climate Studies.

Research fields

Behavioral Ecology; Biological Interactions; Ecophysiology; Global Change; Marine Genomics and Conservation

Drivers; Patterns and impacts of marine invasions; Eastern Cape forest fauna; Evolutionary Genomics; Molecular Plant Physiology; Medicinal Plant Biology; Vertebrate Functional Biology and Herpetology.


The Department of Chemistry and Polymer Science is one of the pre-eminent research departments in chemistry in South Africa, and is engaged in a wide range of research areas, including the largest research effort in polymer science in South Africa.

We use high level research in the chemical sciences to generate new knowledge and promote independent thinking. We are home to three research chairs: the South African research chair in Nano-structured Functional Materials, the South African research chair in Advanced Macromolecular Architectures, and the SASOL research chair in Analytical Polymer Science.

Research fields

Analytical Chemistry; Supramolecular and Material Chemistry; Inorganic and Organometallic Chemistry; Chemical Biology; Organic Chemistry; Polymer Science; Physical Chemistry.


Founded in 1895, the Department of Earth Sciences at Stellenbosch University has a long and proud history that can be traced back to the discovery of diamonds in 1867 and gold in 1886.

We are one of the leading training and research centres in South Africa in general Geology, Experimental Petrology and Geochemistry.

Research fields

Metamorphisms, Magmatism, Igneous and Crustal Evolution; Marine Geochemistry; Environmental Geochemistry; Sedimentology and Paleontology; Economic Geology and Mineral Geochemistry; Structural Geology and Tectonics.


Applied Mathematics, Computer Science and Mathematics from the three divisions of the Department of Mathematical Sciences. With nearly 50 full-time researchers and a large cohort of postgraduate students, the department strives to enhance the enrichment and transfer of knowledge to empower society to analyse and solve complex problems.

Mathematics and computational science are utilised in almost every discipline of science, engineering, industry and technology. In the field of Applied Mathematics, for example, our work finds application in engineering, medicine, the environment, and the defence industry. Applications of machine learning is found across a broad spectrum of disciplines.

The Mathematics Division is home to the South African research chair (SARChI) in Mathematical and Theoretical Physical Biosciences, as well as the DSI-NRF Centre of Excellence for Epidemiological Modelling and Analysis (SACEMA). The Computer Science Division hosts the Telkom-Siemens Centre of Excellence in ATM and Broadband Networks and their Applications.

Research fields in Mathematicswe​bsite

Algebraic Number Theory and Arithmetic Algebraic Geometry; Algebra; Category Theory and Duality; Functional Analysis; Discrete Mathematics; Mathematical and Theoretical Physical Biosciences; Boolean Functions and Lattice Theory; Model Theory; Quantum Topology.

Research fields in Applied Mathematicswe​bsite

Computer Vision, Pattern Recognition and Machine Learning; Fluid Dynamics and Modelling; Numerical Analysis and Scientific Computing; Graph Theory and Coding Theory.

Research fields in Computer Sciencewebsite

Theory and Applications of Automata and Grammars; Software Engineering and Verification; Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and Data Science.


The Department of Microbiology's historical roots can be traced back to 1918 when plant pathology was recognised as a field of expertise in the then Faculty of Agriculture. Today, the Department has eight research groups working in state-of-the-art laboratories in the JC Smuts building.

Microorganisms represent more than 50% of live biomass on earth and are omnipresent. We study a wide variety of micro-organisms, as they play a role in nature, renewable energy, human health and modern biotechnology.

Research fields

Biological Processing of Plant Material; Interactions between yeast and their biological, chemical and physical environment; Lactic Acid Bacteria; Microbial Ecology and Mycology; Water Treatment; Fungi Biotechnology for Bioenergy and the Bioeconomy; Functional Microbial Bioinformatics; Biotechnologies for Water Treatment.


The Department of Physics, established in 1903, is one of the oldest physics departments in South Africa. Throughout its history, members of the Department have been involved in the establishment or continue to contribute to national research institutions such as IThemba LABS, the National Laser Centre, the African Laser Centre, and the National Institute for Theoretical Physics, renamed?

The Department of Physics is an active research environment, with many international and national collaborations in all the fields listed below. Our research covers three broad themes: Laser Physics, Nuclear Physics and Theoretical Physics. Other major research focus areas are in Photonics and Ultrafast Laser Science, as well as Quantum Optics and Atomic Physics.

Research fields

Ultrafast Laser Science; Spectroscopy and Laser Diagnostics; Laser Development; Trapped Ion Quantum Control; Biophotonics and Imaging; Additive Manufacturing, X-ray Imaging and Biomimicry; Solitons in Field Theory; Quantum Phase Transitions and Exceptional Points; Multiparticle Correlations and Bayesian Physics; Condensed Matter Physics; Soft Condensed Matter and Biological Physics; Nuclear Physics.


The Department of Physiological Sciences, established in 1922, strives to be a world-class operation that concentrates on excellence and innovation in teaching and research to enhance human development, welfare and health.

We undertake investigative research to better understand the health challenges facing South Africa and aim to deliver students who will contribute to this effort. The rationale is to gain a deeper understanding of the underlying mechanisms that drive the onset of pathophysiologic states, with the ultimate aim of designing novel therapeutic or disease preventative interventions. In this regard, we employ integrative models to investigate research questions of national importance, using-cutting-edge technologies such as advanced tissue culture, fluorescent microscopy, electron microscopy, flow cytometry, CRISPR and muscle exosome technology.

Research fields

Cancer research; Cardio-oncology research; Multidisciplinary Stress Biology; Cardio-metabolic research; Muscle Physiology research; Metabolic Physiology and Health; Clinical Haemorheology and Coagulation research.​​​​​​​​​​