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ARMSCOR and SU to collaboratehttp://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=5357ARMSCOR and SU to collaborateMedia & Communication, Faculty of Science<p>​Armscor has signed an agreement with SU to develop a Virtual Defence Engagement Programme and a Laser Defence Programme over the next three years.<br></p><p>The collaboration forms part of the Defence Engineering and Science University Program (DESUP), which focuses on support for and development of postgraduate programmes for those areas where ARMSCOR have identified a potential shortage of future skills in the defence environment. Armscor is an agency of the Department of Defence.<br></p><p>Prof Shaun Wyngaardt, a nuclear physicist at SU, will lead the Virtual Defence Engagement Program, while Prof Erich Rohwer, a laser physicist and head of the Department of Physics, will lead the Laser Defence Programme.</p><p>Prof Wyngaardt says virtual simulation platforms or virtual laboratories are already used at universities as an educational tool for students and researchers to prepare them for engagement with highly sophisticated equipment in large nuclear physics experiments.</p><p>In the same way, a virtual simulation platform will provide a safe and cost effective training environment for training of defence personnel on a wide range of equipment and possible combat environments. The programme will include support for postgraduate students and the development of research infrastructure and apparatus. Through the Defence Engineering and Science University Programme (DESUP) network this program will provide a platform for SU to collaborate with Universities, such as Fort Hare University and other HDIs, on the development and implementation of virtual educational tools.</p><p>The aim of the Laser Defence Programme is to build capacity and expertise in the development of laser-based defence technologies. Postgraduate students from SU, Fort Hare University, the University of Zululand and the University of Venda will be invited to apply and participate in this program.</p><p>Prof Rohwer says postgraduate students will receive formal training in laser physics, as well as additional training through internships and apprenticeships. The students will also have access to existing facilities and expertise of researchers in the Laser Research Institute at SU, the CSIR's National Laser Centre and that of international partners such as the Rutherford Appleton Laboratories in the United Kingdom, and the Leibniz Institute of Photonic Technology in Germany.</p><p>The agreement, valued at nearly R5,8 million over the next three years ,was signed at Stellenbosch University on Friday 30 November 2017, by SU's Prof Nico Koopman (left) and Armscor's Prof Noel Mkaza, Group Executive of Research and Development (seated in front). Present at the signing were (at the back, from left to right) Prof Shaun Wyngaardt, Ms Dikeledi Maema, Executive Manager Research and Development at Armscor, and Prof Erich Rohwer. <em>Photo: Stefan Els</em></p><p>For more information, contact Prof Shaun Wyngaardt at 021 808 3379 or shaunmw@sun.ac.za<br></p><p><br></p>
Cum laude for computer program to understand granny square diagramhttp://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=5333Cum laude for computer program to understand granny square diagramWiida Fourie-Basson<p>The digitisation of the humble daisy granny square was one of the challenges that Prof Lynette van Zijl from Stellenbosch University's Computer Science division put to her Honours class at the beginning of this year.</p><p>At first glance, it sounds simple: “Basically, we want to digitise a pattern in order to extract meaning from it," she explains. </p><p>But while the techniques to do so for one dimensional linear diagrams are fairly well understood, it is another kettle of fish when dealing with a multi-layered non-linear diagram such as the diagram for a crochet pattern.</p><p>Adri Lochner, who graduated with a BScHons-degree <em>cum laude</em> in Computer Science this week, decided to tackle the granny square problem as her BScHons project for the year. Not because she can crochet, but rather to learn more about machine learning and optical recognition.</p><p>She says the biggest challenge was to think of different ways by which one could recognise the diagrams: “Then there were several sub-problems which had to be solved in order to achieve better results. Each of these sub-problems were like a project on its own!"</p><p>Lochner used a supervised learning algorithm (based on Support Vector Machines) and “trained" it to recognise and correctly classify each of the individual symbols used in crochet patterns. For example, the symbol for a slip stitch is a black dot and for a chain stitch it is an oval. She used a dataset of 57 600 images and split it up into a training, a validation and a test set.</p><p>But how do you train an algorithm to recognise the combination of three double crochet stitches? In her solution, she draws a “bounding box" around each connected component. The three double crochet stitches for a daisy petal thus become a single component. </p><p>But it was the simple chain stitch that caused the biggest headache. The algorithm could not separate individual chain stitches from each other. She then removed the largest outer contour of the image, thereby separating the chain stitches from each other:</p><p><img alt="chain stitches.png" src="/english/PublishingImages/Lists/dualnews/My%20Items%20View/chain%20stitches.png" style="margin:5px;" /> </p><p>In the end, the recognition method she used achieved an accuracy level of above 70%. </p><p>Prof Van Zijl says <a href="https://www.cs.bham.ac.uk/research/groupings/reasoning/sdag/people/nms/img2mol.php"><span style="text-decoration:underline;">molecule</span></a> and circuit diagrams present the same problem: “We want to be able, one day, to convert complicated images to text and vice versa. This would open up many new possibilities, such as improved searching through images, improved classification of images, and improved access to diagrammatic information for the blind. </p><p>However, at the moment, the general recognition of a complex diagram such as the humble daisy square still has a long way to go, she concludes.</p><p>Lochner, a former learner from Stellenbosch High School, is now on her way to Pretoria where she will start working as a software engineer. In the near future she wants to continue with postgraduate research and perhaps continue in the field of diagram recognition.</p><p><strong>Enquiries</strong></p><p>Prof Lynette van Zijl</p><p>T: 021 808 4232</p><p>E: lvzijl@sun.ac.za</p>
Automatic conversion of Afrikaans text to braille now possiblehttp://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=5336Automatic conversion of Afrikaans text to braille now possibleWiida Fourie-Basson<p>The conversion of Afrikaans text to braille – and vice versa – can now be done at the click of a mouse.</p><p>This is thanks to a program developed by a computer science student from Stellenbosch University (SU), De Pallier Gerber, as part of his final year project for the Pioneer School for the Blind in Worcester. Gerber was awarded his BScHons-degree in Computer Science during the December graduation ceremony this week.</p><p>According to Mr Hannes Byleveldt, vice-principal of <a href="http://www.pioneerschool.org.za/about/">The Pioneer School for the Blind</a> in Worcester, the program will have an immediate impact on teaching at the school.</p><p>“At present the preparation of lesson material is a very time-consuming process. Everything we prepare for the learners, first needs to be converted via a program so that it can be printed in braille by a special printer, after which the material is distributed in class. The program that we are currently using is not 100% accurate and someone has to proof read everything. The learners then complete the exercise or test on an electronic braille writer. Then it has to be converted to text for the teacher to mark their work.</p><p>“This process is not only time-consuming, it also requires vast amounts of paper and hampers the learning process and interaction in class. Braille experts are also not always readily available, which causes a further delay," he adds. </p><p>With Gerber's program a teacher will be able to compare what the learner has written in braille with the Afrikaans equivalent on the same computer screen next to it and give feedback immediately.</p><p>“This means I will now be able to teach like any other teacher in a mainstream school," he emphasizes.</p><p>The program will also shorten the time that the school has to wait for new text books in Afrikaans to be converted to braille.</p><p>The program is also the first of its kind to make provision for different levels of contracted braille in the process of converting text between Afrikaans and braille.</p><p>Gerber explains: “I wrote the program in such a way that there are different levels of complexity between Grade 1 and Grade 2 braille. A teacher can now prepare text and then decide, with the click of the mouse, on which level they want to present it."</p><p>Another advantage is that the program can be adapted, by a teacher, to accommodate new language rules in Afrikaans or braille. It even takes into account complex rules of pronunciation, which influences the conversion of text to braille.</p><p>Mr Byleveldt says after the pilot phase the program will be installed on all their computers. They plan to start using the program in the class room in the first quarter of next year.</p><p>Prof Lynette van Zijl, a researcher in SU's <a href="http://www.cs.sun.ac.za/">Computer Science Division</a> specializing in assistive technologies, says they will continue to support the school until the program runs smoothly. It will then be distributed to other institutions and schools.</p><p>Mr Paul Greyling, principal of The Pioneer School, says they are excited about the world of possibilities this program opens up for learners who want to complete their high school education in a main stream school: “We cannot offer all the subjects a learner needs to qualify for admission to university. This program opens up so many possibilities. We cannot wait to start using it."</p><p><strong>​Media enquiries</strong></p><p>Mr Hannes Byleveldt</p><p>Vice-principal: The Pioneer School for the Blind</p><p>T: 023 342 2313</p><p>E: <a href="mailto:hbyleveldt@pioneerschool.org.za">hbyleveldt@pioneerschool.org.za</a></p><p> <br></p><p>Ms Tammy Watson</p><p>Braille specialist</p><p>T. 023 342 2313</p><p>E: <a href="mailto:prinsipaal@pioneerschool.org.za">prinsipaal@pioneerschool.org.za</a></p><p> </p><p>Mr. Paul Greyling</p><p>Principal: The Pioneer School for the Blind</p><p>T:  023 342 2313</p><p>E:  prinsipaal@pioneerschool.org.za</p><p> </p><p>Prof Lynette van Zijl</p><p>Division Computer Science, Department of Mathematical Sciences</p><p>Stellenbosch University</p><p>T: 021 808 4232</p><p>E: lvzijl@sun.ac.za</p><p>​</p><p>De Pallier Gerber<br></p><p>E: dpgerber@gmail.com</p><p> <br></p><p><em>On the photo, from left to right: Mr Paul Greyling and Mr Hannes Byleveldt from the Pioneer School for the Blind. In front sits De Pallier Gerber and at the back stands Prof Lynette van Zijl from SU's Computer Science Division. Photo: Wiida Fourie-Basson </em></p>
Deadly cryptococcal fungi in public spaces, warn researchershttp://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=5331Deadly cryptococcal fungi in public spaces, warn researchersWiida Fourie-Basson<p>Large populations of potentially deadly cryptococcal fungi have been found on woody debris collected from old trees in two public areas in the centre of Cape Town and the Northern Cape, South Africa.</p><p>After tuberculosis, cryptococcal meningitis is the leading cause of death in HIV/AIDS patients in Sub-Saharan Africa. In 2016, South Africa launched the world's largest national screening programme to detect cryptococcal meningitis in patients living with HIV. People become infected when they inhale the airborne microscopic spores produced by pathogenic cryptococci occurring in the environment. </p><p>The fungi were found and identified by PhD student <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Jo-Marie_Vreulink"><span style="text-decoration:underline;">Jo-Marie Vreulink</span></a> as part of her research in the Department of Microbiology at Stellenbosch University (SU). The findings of her research have now been published in the journal <em>Fungal Ecology</em>, with the title “<a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1754504817301186"><span style="text-decoration:underline;">Presence of pathogenic cryptococci on trees situated in two recreational areas in South Africa</span></a>". </p><p>This is the first time that both <em>Cryptococcus neoformans</em> and <em>Cryptococcus gattii</em> have been found in such large numbers on trees in South Africa. To date, only two studies (one from <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18850241"><span style="text-decoration:underline;">2009</span></a> and the other published in <a href="http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0019688"><span style="text-decoration:underline;">2011</span></a>) have reported the presence of these pathogens in the South African environment. </p><p><em>C. neoformans</em> causes a severe form of meningitis, mostly in individuals with a compromised immune system. Generally, healthy people's immune systems are able to ward off the infection. <em>C. gattii</em>, on the other hand, can lead to meningitis in healthy individuals. </p><p>But while pathogenic cryptococci have been thoroughly researched from a clinical perspective, there is very little information available about their ecology and how they interact with the environment. This type of information can aid in curbing their spread from trees (their host) to the general public.</p><p><strong>More than a decade of searching</strong></p><p><a href="/english/faculty/science/microbiology/research/a-botha"><span style="text-decoration:underline;">Prof Alf Botha</span></a>, from SU's Department of Microbiology and Vreulink's study leader, says he has been searching for <em>Cryptococcus</em> in South Africa since 2003. Worldwide, entire research groups are focusing on finding these fungi in the environment.</p><p>His research group has been working closely with Prof Teun Boekhout from the Westerdijk Fungal Biodiversity Institute in The Netherlands to ensure that the collected cryptococci are identified and characterized according to the most modern taxonomic methods. </p><p>Vreulink says initially they were looking for pathogenic cryptococci in woody debris sampled from pristine areas in South Africa, but with very little success. In 2007, as it became more and more evident worldwide that these fungi are found in areas where there is a combination of pigeons, old trees and large numbers of people, she changed tack and started looking in public spaces.</p><p>To her surprise the very first samples collected from a public park in the centre of Cape Town, delivered more colonies than she could handle.</p><p>“It was late on a Friday afternoon and I was working alone. I decided to check on the petri dishes that I prepared from the samples collected in Cape Town. On most of the dishes brown colonies – typical of these cryptococcal pathogens – were growing. This was such a rare occasion that I started working immediately to transfer the colonies to new petri dishes for identification. I was scared to death that the colonies will be overgrown by other microorganisms if I left it over the weekend," she recalls.</p><p>As part of her MSc and later PhD studies, her research efforts have been focused on understanding the biology and ecology of the single-celled yeasts that make up these brown colonies. She compared their genetic makeup to that of pathogens isolated from patients in South Africa, as well as to that of pathogenic cryptococci found elsewhere. She also looked at their resistance to commonly used antifungals and how environmental factors affect their survival in trees. </p><p>While Vreulink only collected samples from the two public spaces, she believes these pathogens are everywhere: “Methods used to isolate these fungi are simply not sensitive enough."</p><p>But there is still a lot that needs to be understood: “For now, I'm focusing on the ecology of these yeasts. I want to understand the population dynamics, the genetics and how these it interacts with their environment. If we can understand how they survive out there, we can use this knowledge to better predict how they can survive in their human host. </p><p>“At the moment, my research is generating more questions than answers. But that makes it even more exciting!"</p><ul><li>The article “<a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1754504817301186"><span style="text-decoration:underline;">Presence of pathogenic cryptococci on trees situated in two recreational areas in South Africa" was published in the latest edition of </span><span style="text-decoration:underline;"><em>Fungal Ecology</em></span></a>. Co-authors are Kantarawee Khayhan from the University of Phayao in Thailand, Ferry Hagen from the Canisius-Wilhelmina Hospital in The Netherlands, Teun Boekhout from the CBS-KNAW Fungal Biodiversity Centre in The Netherlands, Hester Vismer from the Cape Peninsula University of Technology and from Stellenbosch University: Angela Botes, Leandra Moller and Alf Botha. </li></ul><p><strong>Media enquiries</strong></p><p>Prof Alf Botha</p><p>T: 021 808 5856</p><p>E: abo@sun.ac.za</p><p> </p><p>Jo-Marie Vreulink</p><p>Department of Microbiology, Stellenbosch University</p><p>T. 021 808 5856</p><p>E: 14073242@sun.ac.za</p><p> </p><p>Prof Teun Boekhout</p><p>Westerdijk Fungal Biodiversity Institute, The Netherlands</p><p>E: t.boekhout@westerdijkinstitute.nl </p>
A PhD journey from Sabratah to Stellenboschhttp://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=5319A PhD journey from Sabratah to StellenboschAlec Basson/Corporate Communication Division<p>From Sabratah in western Libya to Stellenbosch in the Boland.<br></p><p>This is the journey that Dr Eman Teer had to travel to complete her doctorate in Physiological Sciences at Stellenbosch University (SU). Having done research on the how inflammation and blood clotting increase the prevalence of heart disease among HIV-positive patients, she obtained her degree on Monday (4 December) at SU's first graduation ceremony of December 2017.<br></p><p>She was among the 639 students in the Faculty of Science who received their degrees at the ceremony. A record number of 5720 degrees, certificates and diplomas will be awarded this week at the December graduation. It is 420 qualifications more than in December 2016, and 700 more than in December 2015.  The December total includes 142 doctoral and 545 Master's degrees.</p><p>Teer, who worked as a medical doctor in Sabratah, has reached the pinnacle of academic success but her road was not always paved with rose-petals. </p><p>Following the Arab Spring protests in 2011, her home country Libya was plunged into a civil war. In an instant, Teer's world was turned upside down.</p><p>“When the war broke out, it was very difficult for me and my daughters, especially the youngest one. My husband, Emad, was already in Stellenbosch working on his doctorate. He arrived here in 2010."</p><p>“The war was close to our city."<br></p><p>With her own future and that of her three daughters at stake, Teer left her country and made the long trek southward. <br></p><p>“It wasn't easy to get out of Libya," she says. “My husband came to fetch us, but he couldn't get into the country." <br></p><p>“My brother had to drive us to Tunisia where we were able to meet my husband."<br></p><p>There's a tinge of sadness in her voice when she speaks about leaving her country and her extended family.<br></p><p>“I have seven sisters and two brothers and it was very hard for me to leave them behind."</p><p>“I'm worried about my relatives and my family. Sometimes I found out through Facebook that some of my relatives have died. It's not easy for me."</p><p>Despite this, Teer remains upbeat that things will change for the better in her country.<br></p><p><strong>Life in Stellenbosch</strong></p><p>For now, she is making the most of her time in Stellenbosch and happy to see her daughters doing well. </p><p>“My oldest daughter Sarah is a first year BSc student at Stellenbosch University; Tasneem just finished her matric exams at Rhenish High School while Ream is in Rhenish Primary School."<br></p><p>When asked about her time in South Africa, her face lights up and she grins from ear to ear.<br></p><p> </p><p>“I like South Africa very much; I love the people and especially the diversity of the people. I have met nice people and this, together with a very good environment, helped me to finish my studies. South Africa is a good place."</p><p>“I'm very lucky to do my research in Stellenbosch. Even if you have problems, you see the support of your colleagues and your professor."<br></p><p>Teer says she is grateful for the support of her supervisor Prof Faadiel Essop and his team.<br></p><p>“Prof Essop has been profoundly supportive of me."</p><p>She also speaks in glowing terms of the support and encouragement of her husband to whom she has been happily married for 22 years. He is currently a postdoctoral research fellow in SU's Department of Industrial Engineering.</p><p>“He has helped me a lot with many things and continues to do so."<br></p><p>Teer also acknowledges her family's support after she arrived in South Africa. As a person of faith, she strongly believes that God helped her along the way.</p><p>As someone who never gives up, Teer believes that women have to fight for their future.  “Women can change a lot either in Libya, the Middle East, South Africa, everywhere. I talk a lot about this with my daughters." </p><p>Teer says she hopes to one day reciprocate all that her homeland has done for her. “I want to make a difference in the lives of my people."<br></p><p>In the meantime, she enjoys life in Stellenbosch and plans to do postdoctoral research next year.<br></p><ul><li>At the same ceremony, Prof Len Barbour of the Department of Chemistry and Polymer Science and Mr Neels Fourie of the Division of Academic Administration received Chancellor's Awards.<br></li></ul><p><strong>​Photo</strong>: Dr Eman Teer with her husband and three daughters at the graduation ceremony.</p><p><strong>Photographer</strong>: Stefan Els</p><p> </p><p><br><br></p>
Teamwork leads to PhD and MSc in mathematicshttp://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=5325Teamwork leads to PhD and MSc in mathematicsMedia and Communication, Faculty of Science<p>Academic perseverance and teamwork at home paved the way for a couple originally from Madagascar, to both completing postgraduate degrees in mathematics from Stellenbosch University (SU) in 2017.</p><p>Dr Valisoa Razanajatovo Misanantenaina received her PhD in mathematics at the December 2017 graduation ceremony for her research on graph polynomials and related parameters. Her husband, Tsinjo, earned his MSc in mathematics in March 2017, also at SU. </p><p>The couple met in 2011 while studying at the University of Antananarivo, but at the end of 2012 their relationship was put to the test when Valisoa was selected to participate in the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (<a href="https://www.aims.ac.za/"><span style="text-decoration:underline;">AIMS</span></a>) programme in South Africa. AIMS is a pan-African network of centres of excellence for postgraduate education, research and outreach in mathematical sciences.</p><p>Valisoa says although long-distance relationships are hard, they decided not to give up on each other: “Tsinjo encouraged and supported me all the way. He even interrupted his studies for one year to work at a high school to earn money for our wedding.</p><p>Over the next three years Valisoa graduated from AIMS and then continued with an MSc in mathematics under the supervision of Prof Stephan Wagner, divisional head of mathematics at the SU Department of Mathematical Sciences.. During the same time Tsinjo was selected for the AIMS programme in Ghana, graduating in December 2014. He was then also accepted for an MSc in mathematics at SU. </p><p>With the prospect of finally being together at the same place at the same time, the couple decided to get married before coming to Stellenbosch in January 2015. But one plus one quickly became three.</p><p>Valisoa says she was really scared when she learned that she was pregnant, but again the couple managed to turn the situation around through teamwork: “Luckily I could mostly do my research from home during the first six months of my son's life‒one of the advantages of doing research in mathematics! When he was six months old we started taking turns to look after him. I used to come into the office in the mornings while my husband took care of him. In the afternoon he would then come into the office and work until late."</p><p>Looking back now, she says it was a wonderful experience: “My colleagues and staff members of the mathematics division were extraordinary. I sometimes just had to come to the office with my son and was scared that he will disturb them, but they even gave advice and helped to make it work for me."</p><p>Next year Valisoa will continue as a postdoctoral fellow with Prof Wagner who was her study leader for her PhD as well. She hopes to find an academic position afterwards until Tsinjo completes his PhD. Then they will have to decide on the future of their family.</p><p>She says AIMS and SU allowed her to develop on an academic and personal level. She concludes: “Always remember that difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations."</p>
More than 600 BSc graduates cappedhttp://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=5327More than 600 BSc graduates cappedMedia and communication, Faculty of Science<p>A chancellor's award and more than 600 BSc degrees were on the menu at the Faculty of Science's graduation ceremony that took place on Monday 4 December 2017.</p><p>Prof Len Barbour, a world-leader in solid-state supramolecular chemistry and one of only three chemists in South Africa with an A-rating from the National Research Foundation (NRF), was the recipient of the SU chancellor's award. The award is given in recognition of staff whose careers attest to sustained excellence over their whole career and can only be received once in a person's career.</p><p>Prof Barbour has established a world-class laboratory in SU's Department of Chemistry and Polymer Science, where he leads a prolific research group of 20 postgraduate students and post-doctoral fellows. Their publications have been cited over 12 000 times and have made a substantial contribution to the University's scientific research output. </p><p>This year the Mathematics Division in the Department of Mathematical Sciences boasts with five doctoral degrees in mathematics. Close on their heels are the Department of Chemistry and Polymer Science with four new PhDs. All in all, 25 PhD-, 54 MSc-, 183 BScHons- and 377 BSc-degrees were awarded.</p><p><em>The five new doctors in mathematics are (front, from left to right) Dr Joseph K Mahasa, Dr Valisoa Razanajatovo Misanantenaina, Dr Jacques Masuret and Dr Kevin Durant. At the back is Dr Joubert Oosthuizen with Prof Stephan Wagner (division head of mathematics) and Prof Ingrid Rewitzky (vice-dean teaching and learning and head of the Department of Mathematical Sciences. Photo: Stefan Els</em><em> </em></p>
Who and where are the visible scientists in South Africa?http://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=5307Who and where are the visible scientists in South Africa?Marina Joubert<p>A total of 211 scientists in South Africa – less than 1% of the country's scientific workforce – have been identified as being 'publicly visible' in a new study by researchers Marina Joubert and Lars Guenther at the Centre for Research on Evaluation, Science and Technology (CREST) at Stellenbosch University (SU). The study is published in the latest edition of the <em>South African Journal of Science</em> (<a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.17159/sajs.2017/20170033"><span class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-5-0" style=""><strong>http://dx.doi.org/10.17159/sajs.2017/20170033</strong></span></a>).</p><p>“These visible scientists are increasingly recognised as the new scientific elite, because their high public profiles allow them to spread their ideas, influence policymakers, defend science and promote a culture of science in society", Joubert explains. “In our society, they are also the role models that shape the public image of science."</p><p>Scientists may become visible in the public sphere for a number of reasons and in several ways. Some are thrust into the limelight when they win a major international science prize. Others achieve visibility as the result of a specific scientific breakthrough that attracts significant public and media attention. Some scientists cultivate relationships with journalists for many years and invest considerable time and effort into making their work publicly accessible, thereby creating and sustaining a public profile. In all cases, the involvement of the mass media, including social media these days, is required to achieve significant levels of public visibility in science.</p><p>Joubert and Guenther explored the institutional affiliations, fields of research and demographics of these scientists, who were identified as publicly visible by a panel of science media experts. More than half of these 211 visible scientists work at just four universities in South Africa. There are 37 visible scientists at the University of Cape Town, 34 at the University of the Witwatersrand, 20 at the University of Pretoria and 17 at Stellenbosch University. A closer look at the 211 visible scientists reveals that 78% of them are white and 63% are male. The 18 most visible scientists in the group were on average 52 years old. The need to increase the public visibility of black and female scientists is highlighted, along with the need to equip young scientists with public communication skills.</p><p>According to this study, the two most visible scientists in South Africa are Prof Lee Berger (University of the Witwatersrand) and Prof Tim Noakes (University of Cape Town). The study discusses some of the factors that have made these two scientists publicly visible. Prof Nox Makunga from the Department of Botany and Zoology at SU was identified as one of the 18 most visible scientists in South Africa. She works on indigenous plants.</p><p><em>Marina Joubert is a science communication researcher, associated with the SA Research Chair in Science Communication at CREST. Contact her on </em><a href="mailto:marinajoubert@sun.ac.za"><em>marinajoubert@sun.ac.za</em></a><em>.</em></p><ul><li><strong>Photo</strong>: Prof Nox Makunga in conversation with journalist Munya Makoni. <br></li></ul><p><br></p>
Research showcase to foster collaboration with industryhttp://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=5306Research showcase to foster collaboration with industryMedia & communication, Faculty of Science<p>At the Faculty of Science's first research showcase on Friday 17 November 2017 researchers and postgraduate students presented nearly 50 posters to an audience of over a hundred guests from industry, our alumni and academic staff from other SU faculties.<br></p><p>Prof Louise Warnich, dean of the Faculty of Science, says the showcase is one of the initiatives identified by the faculty's advisory board to build relationships with industry: “The Faculty of Science is acutely aware of its responsibility not only to equip and prepare students with the high-level skills demanded by the so-called 'Fourth Industrial Revolution', but also to push boundaries and to contribute to new knowledge. However, we cannot do this in isolation. The faculty has initiated various opportunities for staff and students to promote collaboration and enhanced visibility of our research. Today's showcase is an example of such an initiative.</p><p>“The aim of the showcase is to unlock new research and collaboration opportunities on multidisciplinary projects. We strongly believe that this approach will allow us to address the complex questions and challenges that we face in the world today," she said in her speech at the showcase, which was held in the foyer of the SU Music Conservatory. </p><p>Mr Kobus Viljoen, managing director of VASTech and a member of the faculty's advisory board, says he appreciates the university's and the faculty's efforts to reach out to industry: “My colleagues and I thoroughly enjoyed the interaction and we look forward to next year's showcase."</p><p>According to Prof Willem Visser, vice-dean research in the Faculty of Science, all researchers can also benefit from exposure to other disciplines, especially when that may potentially lead to collaboration on interdepartmental or interfaculty level. </p><p><a href="/english/faculty/science/Documents/RESEARCH/FIN%20Kleur%20booklet.pdf">Click here</a> for a list of all the posters presented.</p><p>On the photo above: Several alumni, now working for industries such as Kansai Plascon, attended the research showcase. From left, Paul Reader (PhD in polymer science, 2014), Peter Hollis (MSc process engineering) and Reda Fleet (PhD in chemistry and polymer science, 2010). ​ <br></p>
Goodbye 2017...Hello 2018http://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=5291Goodbye 2017...Hello 2018E Els<p style="text-align:justify;"><span class="ms-rteFontSize-3">​Reflecting on another year, the staff at the Central Analytical Facilities are proud to have achieved several positive outcomes during 2017. Plans for new facilities also developed during 2017 ‒ paving the way for an exciting 2018.</span></p><p style="text-align:left;"><span class="ms-rteFontSize-3"><img src="/english/faculty/science/CAF/Documents/01%20Lydia.jpg" alt="" style="margin:5px;width:100px;height:151px;" /></span><img src="/english/faculty/science/CAF/Documents/03%20Laura%20Bracciali2.jpg" alt="" style="margin:5px;width:102px;height:151px;" /><img src="/english/faculty/science/CAF/Documents/web4.jpg" alt="" style="margin:5px;width:213px;height:151px;" /><img src="/english/faculty/science/CAF/Documents/Human%20Movement%20Analysis/web2.jpg" alt="" style="margin:5px;width:203px;height:151px;" /> </p><p style="text-align:left;"><span class="ms-rteFontSize-1" style="font-size:8pt;">           <em>Joubert                           Bracciali</em><em>                     </em><em>Spectacular new Neuromechanics unit                Two new CAF units coming in 2018</em></span></p><p style="text-align:justify;"><span class="ms-rteForeColor-1" lang="EN-US" style="font-size:15px;"><strong>The Units</strong></span></p><p style="text-align:justify;">Two new senior staff appointments, i.e. Dr Lydia-Marie Joubert and Dr Laura Bracciali have brought extensive international experience to CAF.</p><p style="text-align:justify;"><strong>Joubert</strong> came from Stanford University to manage the <strong>Electron Microscopy</strong> unit. She spent the last 10 years as professional at the Cell Sciences Imaging Facility at Stanford University (USA) and is excited about her new challenge. “Because of the clinical field I was in at Stanford at both the medical school and bioengineering, I would like to bring in the medical environment into the bigger SU campus" Joubert said. </p><p style="text-align:justify;"><strong>Bracciali</strong> is the new division manager for geochronology at the<strong> </strong><strong>ICP-MS & XRF </strong>unit. She is an Earth Scientist with 8 years of post-doctoral experience of which 4 years spent at the NERC Isotope Geosciences Laboratory (British Geological Survey), Keyworth, UK. Her main research interests lie in the fields of multi-technique, multi-proxy sedimentary provenance (applied to constraining the co-evolution of continental margins, palaeodrainages and sedimentary basins) and single grain U-(Th)-Pb dating by LA ICP-MS, including the development of the technique and refinement of best practice.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Prof Celia Abolnik from the Poultry Health and Production Research Chair at the University of Pretoria has recently started using the NGS service offered by the <strong>DNA Sequencing </strong>unit to help in her investigation of avian influenza in South Africa. She is currently performing whole genome sequencing of avian influenza samples collected from across the country, to better understand the diversity in the viral population. Monitoring viral diversity in poultry, hobby birds and wild bird populations is an important part of understanding the spread of the outbreak of avian influenza and this will assist the development of future control strategies.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">The <strong>CT Scanner </strong>unit has this year further consolidated its track record as a leading facility for X-ray tomography applications research, which is evidenced by the wide diversity of academic work completed during the year – students completing, papers published and international conference presentations. Among these, one particular highlight has been the work with Dr Chris Broeckhoven, Prof Cang Hui and in collaboration with Dr Anton du Plessis – where the strength of body armour of girdled lizards were investigated by high resolution microCT, mechanical simulations and physical mechanical testing – this work was published and recently reported in a report in the Journal of Experimental Biology as well as on <a href="http://jeb.biologists.org/content/220/21/3840.1"><span style="text-decoration:underline;">http://jeb.biologists.org/content/220/21/3840.1</span></a> </p><p style="text-align:justify;">Following good financial figures for 2016, the <strong>Nuclear Magnetic Resonance</strong> unit decided against any rate increase for both internal and external clients for 2017. Despite a decrease in internal demand, the unit managed to show significant growth on both their solution and solid state external client income. This allowed the unit to break even this year, and will probably result in another zero percent rate increase for 2018, despite rising maintenance costs. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">In June the new branch of the <strong>Neuromechanics</strong> unit was launched in a spectacular new laboratory space at the Coetzenburg Sports Science Complex. The development of the lab will have a direct impact on sports performance at Stellenbosch University, through provision of a variety of tests on athletes of the Maties Sport High Performance Programme. The laboratory will also support a very broad range of research in the fields of biomechanical engineering, sports science, physiology and physiotherapy.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">At the <strong>Mass Spectrometry</strong> Unit the new ultra-performance convergence chromatography system was the star instrument of the year and was used by a large number of postgraduate students, one of them, a PhD student of Dr Karl Storbeck, Jonathan Quanson, investigated the role of adrenal steroid hormones in the development of castration resistant prostate cancer (CRPC). This lead to new achievements in steroid analysis. Quanson et al have developed and published a high-throughput method to separate and quantify nineteen structurally related androgen precursors and androgens, which have been implicated in the development of CRPC.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">A highlight for <strong>Fluorescence Microscopy</strong> was hosting the very first ISAC Cape Town Flow Cytometry Workshop, in partnership with the International Society for the Advancement of Cytometry (ISAC) and BD Biosciences in April. Eight internationally acclaimed experts in flow cytometry, with the assistance from local flow cytometrists, conducted lectures and wetlab training courses and demonstartions on a range of topics.</p><p style="text-align:justify;"><span class="ms-rteForeColor-1" lang="EN-US" style="font-size:15px;"><strong>General</strong></span></p><p style="text-align:justify;">More than 1900 clients registered on the <strong>new CAF database system</strong>, which was introduced in March. With the data captured CAF provides the NRF with comprehensive information about all users of NEP equipment. 2017 Data shows that, to date, CAF has provided services to 1629 academic clients and 295 clients from industry. The academic clients consist of 987 from Stellenbosch University, 522 from other South African Universities, 21  from foreign universities, 64 from SA Research Institutions that are not part of a university and 35 undefined. Of the 1629 academic clients, 940 are post-graduate students.</p><p style="text-align:justify;"><span class="ms-rteForeColor-1" style="font-size:15px;"><strong>New developments</strong></span></p><p style="text-align:justify;">Two new CAF units will come into being during 2018. The <strong>Vibrational Spectroscopy </strong>unit will open early in 2018 and will be managed by Dr Janine Colling. The creation of the unit has been made possible by an NEP equipment grant to Prof Marena Manley and Dr Paul Williams of the Department of Food Science. The unit will be housed in the Food Science building.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Another exciting opportunity has been created by DST support for the Nuclear Medicine Research Initiative (NuMeRI), of which Profs Annare Ellmann and James Warwick from the division of Nuclear Medicine were part. NuMeRI and Stellenbosch University funding will create the <strong>Node for Infection Imaging</strong> (NII) at Tygerberg Hospital. The NII will be managed by CAF and will provide a dedicated PET/CT scanning facility for research. This development is critical to Tuberculosis research in the Western Cape and has been made possible by collaboration between the South African Nuclear Energy Corporation (NECSA), from whence Dr Jan Rijn Zeevaart champions the NuMeRI initiative, SU Faculty of Health Sciences, SU Division of Nuclear Medicine, Tygerberg Hospital, Western Cape Health and CAF. Construction work on the new facility will begin early in 2018.</p><p style="text-align:justify;"><a href="/caf"><span style="text-decoration:underline;">www.sun.ac.za/caf</span></a> </p>