December 2014

Henry Louis Gates JrHenry Louis Gates Jr was awarded an honorary doctorate in Literature.

Henry Louis Gates obtained his BA at Yale and his MA and PhD degrees at the University of Cambridge.

Henry Gates, Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and Director of Harvard's Hutchins Center for African and African American Research (originally the WEB du Bois Institute for African and African American Research), is one of America's foremost public intellectuals. He is a literary critic, educator, scholar, documentary-maker, writer and editor of several volumes.

The major focus of Gates' work has been the figure of the African American in American and global literature and politics. His work is driven by an abiding concern with the perception of the historic diminution of blackness in the everyday world and he seeks to show the contribution to society and culture made by people of colour, and to show how important it is for scholars to develop a better understanding of how racism has blighted modern society.

The corpus of Gates' writing includes several works of literary criticism including Figures in Black: Words, Signs and 'Racial' Self (OUP, 1987), The Signifying Monkey: A Theory of Afro-American Literary Criticism (OUP, 1988), Loose Cannons: Notes on the Culture Wars (OUP, 1992), Colored People: A Memoir (Knopf, 1994), The Future of the Race (Knopf, 1996), which he co-authored with Cornel West, Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Black Man (Random House, 1997), and In Search of Our Roots: How Nineteen Extraordinary African Americans Reclaimed Their Past (Crown, 2009). He has edited anthologies, including the influential Norton Anthology of African American Literature (WW Norton, 1996) and the Oxford Schomburg Library of Nineteenth Century Black Women Writers (OUP, 1991). He is the co-editor of Transition Magazine, and Editor-in-Chief of The Root.com a daily online magazine focusing on issues of concern to the African American community. He is the co-editor of Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African and African American Experience, the co-editor of the eight-volume biographical encyclopedia, African American Lives (OUP, 2008) and has written prolifically for serious academic and popular journals.

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Rodney DouglasRodney Douglas was awarded an honorary doctorate in Medicine.

Rodney Douglas graduated from UCT with a BSc(Med) in 1969, a MBChB in 1974 and a PhD in 1983. For the past 25 years he has worked in Zurich where he is based in the Institute of Neuroinformatics at the University of Zurich and ETH Zurich.

Douglas was one of the first to steer the shift from "neurally inspired" models of brain function to models that incorporate the real biology. He combined skilled bench-work with computational and theoretical approaches based on emerging technologies. His work in the field of neuroscience has revolutionised the understanding of cerebral cortex functioning, through anatomical and computational studies of the visual cortex.

One of the most profound influences Douglas exerted was through the development of the "canonical microcircuit". He and colleagues established a fundamental functional microcircuit of the visual cortex. Working collaboratively he was instrumental in developing areas such as computational neuroscience and neuromorphic engineering. He has continued to work in this field and is responsible for another landmark study, concerning an anatomically quantified matrix of visual cortical cell types.

Rodney Douglas has spearheaded major advances in neuroscience and in elucidating brain function. He has led several multi-centre collaborative projects, developed software, available in the public domain, to assist neuroscientists in unravelling patterns of synaptic connectivity in brain tissue, has supervised 46 PhD graduates and supported and launched many careers in neuroscience.

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William KentridgeWilliam Kentridge was awarded an honorary doctorate in Literature.

William Kentridge obtained a BA from the University of the Witwatersrand in 1976, studied art at the Johannesburg Art Foundation and studied mime and theatre at L'Ecole Internationale de Theatre Jacques Lecoq between 1981- 1982. He is best known for his prints, drawings, and animated films.

In 1989 Kentridge made Johannesburg, the 2nd Greatist City after Paris, the first of his series of films that explore the complexities of South African society at the end of apartheid from a personal point of view, as an exploration of the experience of living in the brutalized society that flowed from it.

Kentridge's 'Drawings for Projection' brought him to the attention of an international audience in 1997. He subsequently expanded his repertoire into full-scale stage productions: Monteverdi's Ritorno d'Ulisse in Patria, Mozart's Magic Flute, and Shostakovich's The Nose. These major productions which involve acting, singing, animated projections, life-size puppet manipulation as well as full-scale orchestras show how Kentridge is able to engage creatively with the original composer's genius.

William Kentridge is the most successful South African artist of his generation, and is widely acknowledged to be one of the leading artists in the world. He has exhibited or staged productions in the major cities and galleries around the world including the Museum of Modern Art, New York (2007, 2010, and 2011); the Metropolitan Museum of New York (2004); Kyoto (2009); the Louvre (2010) and the Albertina, Vienna, (2010).

Over the past twenty-five years Kentridge has matched his growing stature as an artist by an increasing presence as a public intellectual. He is extraordinarily well-read in the visual arts, music, politics and history. In 2012 he gave the Charles Eliot Norton lectures at Harvard University.

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David FanningDavid Fanning was awarded an honorary doctorate in Literature.

David Fanning, who graduated from UCT in 1970 with a BA, and who had been a member of the editorial team of Varsity is undoubtedly the most distinguished international media figure UCT has produced.

For thirty years he has been the Executive Producer of Frontline, the US's longest- running public television documentary series distinguished for its excellence, independence and integrity. He a cultural figure of enormous significance and has maintained and extended the tradition of investigative documentary making. Fanning is committed to making his work accessible: he has stayed in the public broadcasting service, and, since, 2002 Frontline has streamed most its documentaries free.

Fanning and the series have been recipients of most of the important journalism awards in the United States and his reputation as an independent and ground-breaking producer is legion. Among his many awards are: the Goldsmith Career award for Excellence in Journalism (2010); the 2004 Columbia Journalism Award; numerous Peabody, Television Critic and Banff Television awards, Frontline has no fewer than 57 Emmy awards and in 2013 David Faning was given the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Life Time News & Documentary Emmy Achievement Emmy Award.

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Michael ThackerayMichael Thackeray was awarded an honorary doctorate in Science.

Michael Thackeray completed BSc, BSc (Hons), MSc (1973) and PhD (1977) degrees at the University of Cape Town. Early in his career he developed the ZEBRA battery which is used in applications requiring high power and energy densities, such as in electric vehicles. It has the advantage of operating at 250°C whereas many other molten salt batteries require temperatures above 400°C.

Michael Thackeray is currently the Director of the Energy Frontier Research Center: Center for Electrical Energy Storage – Tailored Interfaces in a partnership between Argonne (the Argonne National Laboratory), Northwestern University and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He has changed the field of battery research by introducing new electrode materials as well as translating these materials into viable technologies, primarily exploiting the spinels. He has pioneered several of the major advances in energy storage and is a world leader in lithium batteries. He was one of those who invented the manganese spinel cathodes now used in electric vehicles.

Lithium-ion batteries have revolutionised consumer electronics – in laptops, cellphones and tablets – as they are lightweight, rechargeable, operate at ambient temperatures and have very high energy density. Increasingly, lithium-ion batteries are being applied in electric vehicles, such as electric or hybrid cars, airplanes and even the Mars Curiosity Rover.

Dr Thackeray has more than 180 publications in leading journals, holds more than 25 patents and has an h-index of 61 (in other words 61 of his publications have been cited at least 61 times) and in total over 12 000 citations, and is listed on the Thomson Reuters Highly-Cited Researcher List. To put this into perspective, Hirsch (who developed the h index) estimated that after 20 years a "successful scientist" will have an h-index of 20, an "outstanding scientist" an h-index of 40, and a "truly unique" individual an h-index of 60.

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June 2014


Prof Salim Abdool KarimProfessor Salim Abdool Karim has held academic appointments at the Universities of KwaZulu-Natal, Cornell, and Columbia, and is has received many honours for his significant scientific contributions to the struggle against AIDS. He demonstrated that tenofovir gel prevents both HIV and Herpes Simplex Virus Type 2 infection. This was the first microbic study to show efficacy and among the most significant scientific breakthroughs in the fight against AIDS.

Science magazine ranked it among the Top 10 Scientific Breakthroughs of 2010. In addition, Karim has contributed significantly to research capacity development in South Africa, playing a role in the initiation or creation of five highly productive research centres in South Africa, and has been instrumental in restoring the status of the Medical Research Council as the country’s premier medical research institute. For more than a decade he served as the Principal Investigator of the Fogarty International Centre, which has trained more than 500 South African researchers. Karim currently chairs the UNAIDS Scientific Expert Panel.

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Dr Bernie FanaroffDr Bernie Fanaroff's achievements range from his work as a radio astronomer to contributions to the country's liberation through the trade union movement, and latterly, to South Africa's winning bid to host the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) radio telescope. His studies of extragalactic radio sources were pioneering and the Fanaroff-Riley classification of radio sources, developed with Julia Riley while at Cambridge, is still used today.

During the turbulent 70s and 80s Fanaroff devoted 18 years to establishing and building the trade union movement, specifically the Metal & Allied Workers' Union, later the National Union Of Metalworkers, one of the largest and most influential unions in the country. After a nine-year stint with the Reconstruction and Development Programme he returned to radio astronomy as part of the nascent SKA project. His acumen as a leader and his expertise in radio astronomy were crucial to South Africa's winning the bid. The SKA promises to bring massive infrastructure development, create a significant legacy of skills, and attract young researchers in Africa to enter careers in science and technology.

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William CarmichaelWilliam Carmichael studied economics at Yale, Princeton, and Oxford. He came to South Africa in the mid-1970s as head of the Ford Foundation's Office for the Middle East and Africa, and in the 1980s led Ford's work in South Africa as vice-president of the Ford Foundation, responsible for its Developing Country Programmes.

His leadership and understanding of the potential of think-tank organisations in repressive societies enabled the Ford Foundation to play and important role in support of a wide range of individuals and organisations working in civil society, both inside and outside universities. Carmichael led a shift from economic modernisation theory to supporting the full set of institutions characterising an open democratic society, and re-focused the Ford South Africa programme to support human rights (including rights to trade unions), transformation of the historically white universities, alternative education programmes such as SACHED, and other dimensions of a society struggling for democracy, including the Legal Resources Centre and the Centre for Applied Legal Studies. Through the generosity of the Ford Foundation and his shared advice and wisdom, Carmichael made a significant contribution to South African universities and broader South African society, particularly in education and law.

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