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Prestigious award for SU polymer scientist
Author: Media and Communication, Faculty of Science
Published: 13/09/2017

Prof Harald Pasch, distinguished professor and holder of the SASOL Research Chair in Analytical Polymer Science at Stellenbosch University (SU), was awarded the 2017 Gold Medal of the South African Chemical Institute (SACI).

The SACI Gold Medal is regarded as the highest recognition for outstanding contribution to research afforded by the South African chemical fraternity.

This is the third time in five years that this prestigious award was awarded to a researcher from SU’s Department of Chemistry and Polymer Science. Previous winners were Prof Len Barbour, SARChI chair in Supramolecular Chemistry in 2014, and Prof Bert Klumperman, SARChI chair in Advanced Macromolecular Architectures, in 2013.

Prof Pasch joined SU as the SASOL Research Chair in Analytical Polymer Science and head of the polymer science division in 2008. Since then his research group (which focus on advanced polymer analysis) has developed into one of the leading international groups to do research in polymer fractionation and characterization.

His present research focuses on multidimensional liquid chromatography, advanced spectroscopy, development of analytical methods for nanomaterials and high-throughput experimentation.

Liquid chromatography is a separation technique that is commonly used for the analysis of polymers according to their molecular size, chemical composition and molecular architecture. All physical properties of polymers, as well as the range of application of polymers (automotive, aerospace, medicine, microelectronics etc.) depend on these molecular parameters. For the correlation of molecular structure and physical properties such separation techniques is indispensable.

In the Pasch group different liquid chromatographic techniques are coupled to each other in multidimensional separation setups, thus, developing new analytical technologies for complex polymers.

Prof Pasch also co-authored two of the most important and up-to-date textbooks in this field, namely Multidimensional HPLC of Polymers (Springer, 2013), with Dr Bernd Trathnigg from the University of Graz in Austria; and Advanced Separation Techniques for Polyolefins (Springer, 2014), co-authored with prof Muhammad Imrak Malik from the University of Karachi in Pakistan.

Prof Pasch’s total number of peer-reviewed publications exceeds 300. Of these, 81 were produced between 2012 and 2015. He is frequently invited as plenary and guest speaker to national and international conferences. He has supervised more than 50 postgraduate students both in Germany and South Africa and many of these graduates now occupy leading positions in major companies.