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Top 20 Postdoctoral Fellows Awards for Exceptional Performance
Author: Dr Palesa Mothapo, Division for Research Development
Published: 24/11/2020

Postdoctoral Research Fellows are the research muscle of academia. In this career development phase of their academic lives, postdocs are engaging in independent research under the mentorship of a senior researcher here at Stellenbosch University. In addition, they support research activities by assisting with graduate student supervision, teaching, applying for research grants and most importantly, publications.

Stellenbosch University is proud to host 321 Postdoctoral Research Fellows in 2020.  The fellows are distributed across all faculties, with the majority in Science, Health and Medical Sciences, Arts and Social Sciences, Agrisciences and Engineering. We have an almost equal distribution of national and international postdocs, and an equal distribution by gender.

In its strategic focus towards becoming a leading research university in Africa, Stellenbosch University is invested in developing young researchers such as these who drive impactful research in South Africa, the Continent and the rest of the world.

Prof Eugene Cloete, Vice-Rector: Research, Innovation and Postgraduate Studies, values the postdocs and has ambitious plans to grow the postdoc cohort to 500 within the next two years, in line with the University strategy and vision to have global impact.

The contribution of postdoctoral fellows to academic performance at the University is significant. Recognising this, Prof Cloete launched the Postdoc Fellow Award in 2017 to honour the top-performing postdoctoral fellows at the University. Every year it has become increasingly difficult to award these. Fellows are measured on the academic track record in terms of publication numbers, conference presentations and other outputs; their grants and funds raising; academic service with regard to teaching and student supervision; peer-reviewing in the academic community; and community service.

The fellows honoured here have published, combined, over 60 manuscripts between 2017 and 2020; over 20 book chapters; raised over R15 million in research grants from funding agencies, government, industry, NGO's and foundations; and received numerous prestigious awards in recognition of their research activities. Each fellow received a certificate of recognition and a once-off sum of R10 000 recognising their exceptional effort.


Here are the Top 20 Postdoc Awardees for 2020


Dr Betrand AyukProx XG MbhenyaneHuman Nutrition
Dr James Baxter--GilbertProf John MeaseyBotany and Zoology
Dr Rachelle BesterProf HJ MareeGenetics
Dr Charl DeaconProf Mike SamwaysConservation Ecology and Entomology
Dr Maaike EkenProf Wayne DermanInstitute of Sports and Exercise Medicine
Dr Wynand GoosenProf Michele MillerDivision of Molecular Biology and Human Genetics
Dr Tess GridleyProf Conrad MattheeBotany and Zoology
D Dominique LeibbrandtProf Quinette LouwPhysiotherapy
Dr Tando MadunaProf Ben LoosPhysiological Sciences
Dr Marthie MombergProf Dion ForsterSystematic Theology and Ecclesiology
Dr Andrew NdiripoProf Harald PaschChemistry and Polymer Science
Dr Henry NkabyoProf Klaus Koch/Dr Robert LuckayChemistry
Dr Marietjie Pauw-ConradieProf Stephanus MullerAfrica Open Institute for Music, Research and Innovation
Dr Patricia SwartProf Sian HemmingsPsychiatry
Dr Kim TrollopeProf Johann GörgensProcess engineering
Dr Gustav van NiekerkProf Anna-Mart EngelbrechtPhysiological Sciences
Dr Julia van Schalkwyk Prof Michael SamwaysConservation Ecology and Entomology
Dr Anton Du Preez van StadenProf Carine SmithPhysiological Sciences
Dr Rouxjeane VenterProf Grant TheronDivision of Molecular Biology and Human Genetics
Dr Andrew WatsonProf J MillerEarth Sciences


  • If you would like to find out more about postdocs and postdoc opportunities at SU, please contact Dr Palesa Natasha Mothapo, Head: Postdoctoral Research Support, on