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JT Morrison medal for top MSc student in Applied Mathematics
Author: Media & Communication, Faculty of Science
Published: 16/10/2019

The 2018 John Todd Morrison-medal for the best MSc-student in Applied Mathematics in SU's Faculty of Science was awarded to Jacoline van Jaarsveld, a former learner from Tygerberg High School.

Her MSc-project, titled “Predicting the effect of biofilm growth on the pressure drop over a biofilter" has already led to two research articles and a presentation at an international conference.

Jacoline says originally she wasn't even aware of the existence of a field called Applied Mathematics, and decided to study Engineering because of her love for Mathematics. But after her first year she decided to change her studies to a BSc in Applied Mathematics.

“At school and as undergraduate student I could never achieve an A-level average. I only started to achieve when I became really excited about what I was learning about," she says.

She is full of praise for her lecturer and study leader, Dr Sonia Fidder-Woudberg, who advised her over the three years, from her BScHons to her MSc-degree: “Sy supported me and gave me so much of her time. I really appreciate her efforts!"

She is also thankful towards her parents, Martin and Sonja van Jaarsveld, who allowed her to find her own career path: “They were very patient with me, because it wasn't always easy. I would not have been able to achieve this without their support."

Jacoline currently works as a data scientist at the Simera Group, a South African engineering company established in 2010, and specialising in engineering simulations and data management systems.

At Simera she is responsible for data analysis and data visualisation, but ultimately she wants to specialise in machine learning: “I want to be part of a team where I can use my knowledge and experience in the preparation and manipulation of data," she concludes.

During the awards function on 21 August 2019, the Applied Mathematics Division also rewarded its top undergraduate students. The best first year student for 2018 was Emma Nel with an average of 95%. The best second year student was Jacobie Mouton (99.5% average) and the best third year student was Fred de Villiers (90.25%). The top honours student, Esmari Maré (87%) is currently continuing with an MSc in Applied Mathematics. Each of the top students received a certificate and a book, sponsored by Cambridge University Press South Africa.

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More about the John Todd Morrison research medal

In 1891 Prof John Todd Morrison was appointed as lecturer in Physics and Chemistry at the then Victoria Kollege, which became Stellenbosch University in 1918. From 1906 until 1923 he held the research chair in Applied Mathematics, followed by the research chair in Physics until his retirement in 1934. The John Todd Morrison research medal is awarded annually to the best MSc student graduating cum laude in Applied Mathematics or Physics.