Prof Burtram C Fielding, a molecular biologist and prolific researcher with the University of the Western Cape (UWC), will start his term as the new dean of the Faculty of Science at Stellenbosch University (SU) on 1 April this year (2024). He follows in the footsteps of Prof. Louise Warnich, who has held the position for the past decade.
Fielding, specialising in the molecular biology of diseases such as viral infections and cancer, is the Dean of the Faculty of Natural Sciences and Professor of Molecular Biology in the Department of Medical Biosciences at UWC.
He holds a PhD from UWC and an MPhil in Management Coaching (cum laude) from the Stellenbosch Business School, amongst others.
Previous positions held, include Director, Department of Research Development; and Professor of Virology, Department of Medical Biosciences, while he served as the Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research and Innovation (acting) from September 2016 to March 2017 – all with UWC. Fielding worked as a Research Fellow at the world-leading Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology, Singapore from March 2003 to February 2006.
He serves on various institutional and research-related committees at the institution. Boasting a robust publication and presentation history, Fielding holds various journal editorial and reviewer positions as well as professional board and scientific committee appointments.
He is study leader to PhD, MSc and BSc Hons students and contributed to a large number of book chapters and peer-reviewed publications. He is a recipient of various scholarships and scientific and academic awards.
As thought leader he regularly writes for the media and comments for local and international media, most recently on the COVID-19 pandemic.
“My objective would be to enhance the faculty's standing as a globally recognised hub for research excellence and innovation," says Fielding. “Through strategic planning and fostering a unified vision, I am committed to promoting the faculty's long-term viability and cultivating an organisational culture that upholds values such as compassion, respect, equity, accountability, and excellence."
Prof Sibusiso Moyo, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research, Innovation and Postgraduate Studies, says she looks forward to Fielding's contribution. “Prof Fielding not only boasts a solid research and teaching background but has more than twenty years of academic leadership in higher education. Coupled with a proven track record in fundraising, international scientific collaboration and successful transformation and social impact initiatives, amongst others, he offers the complete leadership skills set required to take the Faculty of Science to the next level as well as enhance the student experiences and promote interdisciplinary research with the two Schools for Climate Studies and Data Science and Computational Thinking.
“I would like to thank the Senior Appointments Committee that was Chaired by the Rector and Vice-Chancellor, Prof Wim de Villiers, for ensuring that we successfully completed the process."
She adds that the University is especially indebted to Prof. Louise Warnich, whose second and last term as dean is coming to an end at the end of March 2024.“During her decade of leading the Faculty of Science, she played an important role in positioning the Faculty as an international role player. In this process she placed great emphasis on the support and development of the most precious assets of the faculty – the staff (academic and PASS) and students. Together with her management team she has made a significant contribution on several levels in developing and supporting the next generation of South African scientists."