Unisa celebrates its crème of the crop researchers

Research and innovation are at the heart of Unisa’s engaged scholarship and its academic project. Whilst organisations are still treading carefully to curb the spread of Covid-19 by adhering to gathering restrictions under the pandemic, Unisa celebrated its crème of the crop researchers through its annual Research and Innovation Awards ceremony, which this year was hosted online for the first time.

Prof Thenjiwe Meyiwa, Vice-Principal of Research, Postgraduate Studies, Innovation and Commercialisation, said that the awards are a significant hallmark that not only reflect the passion and sterling work of Unisa’s 2020/2021 research accomplished awardees, but through these awards, the university recognises the commitment and innovative research that the awardees conduct. "It is not only dedication through their research that the awardees have displayed but they go beyond demonstrating passion - they went further to find solutions. The awardees are people who have crazy thoughts, who think differently, who project and live out Maya Angelou’s assertion that, if you’re always trying to be normal you will never know how amazing you can be," said Meyiwa.

Prof Xinying Liu (CSET) received three awards.

Prof Hennie Stoffberg (CAES) received four awards

Prof Puleng LenkaBula, Principal and Vice-Chancellor (VC), agreed with Meyiwa: "These awards give us an opportunity to celebrate the very best of our researchers. Such are those academics who are pushing the envelope when it comes to both research and development." She added further that the vibrancy of the research project within any university is an important measure of its contribution to innovation, development and the promotion of advanced knowledge.

The VC also pointed out that in the 27 years since the founding of the democratic state, there has been pressure on institutions to make tangible contributions to the aspiration of a "better life for all" and that Unisa has a vital role to play in harnessing knowledge production for the benefit of society. The Unisa Research and Innovation Awards recognised those who have excelled in the fields of science, engineering and technology, agriculture, environmental sciences, law, education, human sciences, economics, business leadership and many others. "What all these researchers and innovators have in common is that they are impacting society positively and bringing the community ever closer to a better quality of life," said LenkaBula.

Since taking on the role of the Principal and Vice-Chancellor at the Unisa at the beginning of this year, LenkaBula has asserted the importance of placing the academic project at the centre of the university’s endeavours. "I go further and say that the academic agenda should be non-negotiable," she affirmed.

A total of 80 awards were made. Of these, 14 recipients were multiple award winners: Professors Malik Maaza, Marcia Mkansi, Rehana Cassim, Ruth de Villiers, Diane Hildebrandt, Lukas Snyman, Titus Msagati and Dirk Kotzé and Doctors Monnye Mabelebele, Vhahangwele Masindi, Salerwe Mosebi and Lindani Ncube. Stealing the show with a handful of awards were Prof Xinying Liu, who received three awards, and Prof Hennie Stoffberg with four awards. For a complete list of winners and their respective awards, click here.

"A special congratulatory note and ululation to all Unisans - researchers, students, research technicians, managers at all levels, alumni and partners - who have been selfless and have contributed in various ways to ensure that our research and innovation profile outlook for 2020-2021 is enhanced," closed Meyiwa.

Publish date: 2021/08/11