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Researcher receives national award for science communication
Author: Corporate Communication / Korporatiewe Kommunikasie [Alec Basson]
Published: 27/09/2018

​​​Dr Rehana Malgas-Enus, an emerging researcher in the Department of Chemistry and Polymer Science at Stellenbosch University, on Wednesday (26 September 2018) received an award from the National Research Foundation (NRF) for her outstanding contributions to public engagement with science and for making science and technology more accessible to the public. She was honoured with the Excellence in Science Engagement Award. The annual NRF Awards recognise and celebrate South African research excellence.

The Excellence in Science Engagement Award acknowledges researchers at South African universities and science councils who make exceptional contributions to public engagement and public understanding of science over a sustained period. It also encourages academics to help enhance the public's engagement and understanding of all the sciences (including technology, innovation, the social sciences, humanities and indigenous knowledge). 

Malgas-Enus says she feel extremely honoured to have received this special award.

“I am humbled that they have recognised my efforts in this wonderful manner. I would also like to express my sincere gratitude towards my institution for recognising my contribution to outreach by nominating me for this special award. I am deeply grateful for their support and encouragement."

Passionate about science outreach, Malgas-Enus established the Stellenbosch University Chemistry Outreach Initiative (SUNCIO) which takes the science laboratory to underprivileged schools.

She does several public engagements per year, in the form of motivational talks to young girls, taking the “laboratory" to underprivileged schools in designated areas to promote science, articles in print media as well as radio interviews to make science more accessible to the general public. She has also designed four Practical Chemistry kits so that learners at schools that don't have a laboratory or resources, can easily do the prescribed physical sciences practical work in their classrooms.

In 2013, Malgas-Enus established the RME-NANO research group which focuses on the design and application of organic and inorganic nanoparticles in areas such as the treatment of wastewater and blood clotting. Apart from the NRF Award, Malgas-Enus also received the Claude Leon Lecturer Merit Award, the Rector's Award for General Performance and the CHEC (Cape Higher Education Consortium) Funding Award for Outreach.

She has published papers in leading journals in her field and also supervised and co-supervised master's and doctoral students.

Malgas-Enus says she would like to encourage her fellow emerging researchers to not only do world-class research but to also contribute to outreach in a manner which yields the greatest impact and can make a difference to communities.

At the same ceremony, Profs Michael Samways (Department of Conservation Ecology and Entomology) and Simon Schaaf (Department of Paediatrics and Child Health) obtained special awards for having received an A-rating from the NRF.

  • Photo: Dr Rehana Malgas-Enus (right) with Dr Therina Theron, Senior Director of SU's Division for Research Development, at the ceremony.