The National Research Foundation (NRF) rating system is a key driver in the NRF’s aim to build a globally competitive science system in South Africa. It is a valuable tool for benchmarking the quality of our researchers against the best in the world. An “A rating” is awarded to leading international researchers. UCT currently has 41 A-rated researchers – just over a third of the total number in South Africa. Below follows a list of UCT’s A-rated researchers (in alphabetical order).
For more information on the different NRF ratings: visit the NRF website
Professor Barashenkov received his MSc from the Moscow State University and a PhD in mathematical and theoretical physics from the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research in Dubna. His research interests include nonlinear dynamics and theory of nonlinear waves, in particular solitary waves, localised patterns and vortices. Barashenkov's early research projects focussed on the so-called dark solitons. After moving to UCT, he turned his attention to solitons in resonantly forced dissipative systems. More recently he pioneered studies of the parity-time symmetry in nonlinear systems of optics and atomic physics. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of South Africa (FRSSAf) and was awarded the Harry Oppenheimer Fellowship in 2004.
Emeritus Professor Bateman has an MBChB and a Doctor of Medicine degree from UCT. He is also a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and a life fellow of UCT. His research interests include the pharmacology and management of asthma, chronic obstructive airways disease and tuberculosis, and community-based interventions to improve the care of patients with chronic respiratory diseases. He serves on the editorial/advisory boards of several international journals and is a recipient of many local and international awards which include the President’s Award from the European Thoracic Society for his global contribution to Respiratory Medicine.
Emeritus Professor Bond is chief scientist for the South African Environmental Observation Network (SAEON). He is an ecologist with broad interests in the processes most strongly influencing vegetation change in the past and present, including fire, vertebrate herbivory, atmospheric CO2 and climate change. In addition, he has worked on plant-animal mutualisms and on plant form and function. Particular research interests include grasslands and savanna ecosystems, and winter-rainfall shrublands. He has served on the boards of the South African National Botanical Institute and of Cape Nature and on the editorial boards of several journals. He is a Foreign Associate of the US National Academy of Sciences and has an H-factor of 74.
Professor Brombacher received a PhD bursary from the late Nobel laureate Professor Georges Köhler of the Max Planck Institute for Immunobiology in Germany. With a focus on areas such as immunology, infectious diseases, bio-engineering and health technology, Brombacher has made a number of important contributions. In a joint venture with Professors Gottfried Alber and Hoffmann-LaRoche, he was granted a patent on the use of IL-12p40 as an immune-stimulant in 1999. Brombacher currently holds the DST-NRF Research Chair for Immunology of Infectious Diseases in Africa and is the scientific coordinator for the African International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology.
Emeritus Professor Butterworth heads the Marine Resource Assessment and Management (MARAM) Research Group. He has acted as a consultant on fisheries management issues to 11 other national governments, and also to fishing industries in 10 countries, as well as serving as a national representative or invitee in his personal capacity on the Scientific Committees of 11 international fisheries organisations. His research covers many marine species, including anchovy, hake, krill, lobster, orange roughy, sardine, seals, tuna and whales. He has received a number of prestigious awards, including the South African President's National Orders award of the Order of Mapungubwe (silver) for contribution to the betterment of the environment and sustainability of fisheries.
Professor Chidester is a prolific writer and an internationally acclaimed scholar in the field of comparative religion. His interests lie in the relationships between religion and globalisation, religion and popular culture, religion in society and the problems of social cohesion. He has written extensively on religion in South Africa, North America, as well as on religion and education. He is a two-time winner of the American Academy of Religion's Award for Excellence in Religious Studies”. In 2005, he received the Alan Pifer Award for Social Research.
Professor Anusuya Chinsamy-Turan is a palaeobiologist in the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Cape Town. She is a global expert on the microscopic structure of the bones of extinct and extant vertebrates. Her work has been recognised by several highly acclaimed awards, for example: In 1995 she received an NRF President Award; and in 2005 she won the South African Woman of the Year Award, which acknowledges her contribution to science both in terms of research and science communication to the wider public.
Emeritus Professor Cleymans has made considerable contributions to the area of plasma and particle physics with a particular focus on relativistic heavy ion collisions. He obtained his doctorate in physics at the Université Catholique de Louvain in Belgium and his post-doctoral thesis at the Universität Bielefeld in Germany. His research work currently focuses on the phase diagram separating nuclear matter from quark matter and exploring areas of high baryon density. Cleymans was instrumental in establishing the SA-CERN programme, the successor to the UCT-CERN Research Centre. He also contributed to the SA-Joint Institute for Nuclear Research with Russia and was leader of the UCT-ALICE Collaboration at CERN. Cleymans has been the recipient of a number of awards throughout his career, including the Alexander von Humboldt Research Prize in 1999.
De Gruchy is emeritus professor of Christian Studies at UCT, where he taught for over 30 years and now works as a senior research scholar. He is also an extraordinary professor at the University of Stellenbosch. De Gruchy, who has doctorates in both theology and the social sciences, is author of The Church Struggle in South Africa and a number of other significant books.
Professor Ekama has 35 years of research experience into activated sludge systems at UCT. Over the years he has been at the forefront of developments in BNR-activated sludge systems modelling, filamentous bulking, secondary settling tank design and modelling. He has published over 150 research papers on these subjects and he and his research group have co-authored the International Water Association Scientific and Technical Reports. He regularly teaches courses for local authorities and industry, both nationally and internationally. He is a fellow of several institutions including the Water Institute of Southern Africa and the Royal Society of South Africa.
Ellis is emeritus distinguished professor of complex systems in the Department of Mathematics and Applied Mathematics. He co-authored The Large Scale Structure of Space-Time with University of Cambridge physicist Stephen Hawking, published in 1973, and is considered one of the world's leading theorists in cosmology. In 2004 he won the Templeton Prize. From 1989 to 1992 he served as president of the International Society on General Relativity and Gravitation. He is a past president of the International Society for Science and Religion. He was also awarded the Order of the Star of South Africa by Nelson Mandela, in 1999. On 18 May 2007, he was elected a Fellow of the British Royal Society.
Professor Farrant is the world’s leading expert on resurrection plants, which ‘come back to life’ from a desiccated, seemingly dead state when they are rehydrated. She investigates the ability of many species of these plants to survive without water for long periods of time – looking at the molecular, biochemical and ultrastructural to the whole-plant ecophysiological. She uses a unique comparative approach and works with many different species of resurrection plants and a variety of tissues. The ultimate goal is to find a way to develop drought-tolerant crops to nourish populations in arid, drought-prone climates. Her research may also have medicinal applications.
Emeritus Professor Feast is quite possibly the only academic to have published papers in Nature 66 years apart: the first in 1948, when he was just 21, and most recently last year when he was 87. Feast is an expert on studies of Cepheid variables, the distance scale of the Universe, and he studies resolved stellar populations in nearly galaxies in the Local. He is listed in the international Who's Who, has had a minor planet named after him (Asteroid no. 10985 Feast, discovered from Mt Palomar in October 1977) and has represented South African astronomy at the highest international level. In 1982, he was appointed a Royal Society of South Africa fellow (FRSSAf). Feast is the recipient of the 2015 John F W Herschel Medal.
Senior scholar at UCT, Emeritus Professor Gäde has a PhD from the University of Münster and a Dr rer nat habil from the University of Bonn, Germany. He was chair of zoology at UCT for 20 years until his retirement. His research interests are all related to invertebrate energy metabolism. Currently, his research focus is on insect neuropeptide hormones that are regulating energy metabolism. He investigates the structure and function of such small neuropeptides and clones the cognate receptors to predict binding and interaction. He has served on numerous editorial boards of international journals, has been invited as speaker at international conferences worldwide, and has published extensively.
Professor Hewitson is a climatologist with eclectic interests ranging from electronic through geography, meteorology, many others and even including ethics. His core "discipline" is regional climate (change). Based at UCT since 1992, where he now manages the Climate System Analysis Group (CSAG) research group. He is also engaged in international activities (such as IPCC and WCRP), and research. The research interests include climate modeling, climate change, downscaling, and interesting analysis methodologies. Beyond this are extended interests in appropriate technology, scientific capacity building, and the science-society interface.
Professor Janelidze obtained his DSc from the St Petersburg State University in 1992 where he was the first DSc in category theory in the former USSR. During the years thereafter, he was a visiting professor at a number of institutions in Europe, North America, and Australia. He was appointed as professor at UCT in 2004, and became an honorary member of the A. Razmadze Mathematical Institute of the Georgian Academy of Science. Janelidze has published extensively and is the editor of four international journals. His current research is devoted to various topics of categorical algebra, including abstract Galois theory, with applications in classical algebra, geometry and topology.
Professor Kincaid is director of the Research Unit in Behavioural Economics and Neuroeconomics (RUBEN). At RUBEN, Kincaid has been involved in studies looking at the prevalence of gambling in South Africa, and at problem gamblers and at-risk gamblers. He is the co-editor of Distributed Cognition and the Will: Individual Volition and Social Context and What Is Addiction? .
Professor Hans-Peter Kunzi received his master's, PhD and habilitation degrees from the University of Berne in Switzerland. After postdoctoral years at Virginia Tech, US, and UCT, he worked for several years as a lecturer and researcher in Switzerland, at the Universities of Berne and Fribourg. The research of his Topology Research Group lies mainly in the field of analytic and categorical topology, focusing on frame theory and asymmetric topology.
Professor Mayosi is the newly appointed dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences at UCT and former head of the department of medicine. He qualified in medicine from the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban, and trained in internal medicine and cardiology in Cape Town. He was the Nuffield Oxford Medical Fellow in cardiovascular medicine at the University of Oxford from 1998 to 2001. His research interests include genetics of cardiovascular traits, treatment of tuberculous pericarditis, and prevention of rheumatic fever. He is the chairman of the South African National Health Research Committee, president of the College of Physicians of South Africa, president of the Pan-African Society of Cardiology (PASCAR), chairman of the Rheumatic Fever Council of the World Heart Federation, and Associate Editor for Africa of Circulation. In 2009, he received South Africa’s highest honour, the Order of Mapungubwe in Silver, for excellent contributions to medical science.
Professor Mesthrie is the research chair in the School of African & Gender Studies, Anthropology & Linguistics (AXL). He is a past president of the Linguistics Society of Southern Africa (2001-2009) and a past head of the Linguistics Section at UCT (1998-2009). He was elected honorary life executive member of the Linguistics Society of Southern Africa in 2012. He is currently an executive member of the International Society for English Linguistics and an elected member of the SA Academy of Science. He has published widely in the field of Sociolinguistics, with special reference to language contact and variation in South Africa.
Professor Mizrahi is the director of both the Institute of Infectious Disease and Molecular Medicine (IDM) and the Molecular Mycobacteriology Research Unit of the South African Medical Research Council, and also head of the UCT node of the DST-NRF Centre of Excellence for Biomedical TB Research. Mizrahi’s research team is internationally recognised for its work on aspects of the physiology and metabolism in Mycobacterium tuberculosis of relevance to TB drug discovery and drug resistance. She is a fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology and the Royal Society of South Africa. Her major awards include the 2000 Unesco-L’Oréal Women in Science prize for Africa and the Middle East, and 2013 Christophe Mérieux Prize. She is also Senior International Research Scholar of the HHMI.
Emeritus Professor Noakes (MBChB, MD, DSc (Med) in Exercise Science) teamed up with Morné du Plessis to found the Sports Science Institute of South Africa (SSISA) in the early 90s. Noakes has an H-index of 71. In 2002, he was awarded the International Cannes Grand Prix Award for Research in Medicine and Water for his work on exercise-associated hyponatraemia (EAH). In 2008, he was elected an honorary fellow of the Faculty of Sports and Exercise Medicine (UK), the first foreigner recognised as such. That same year, he received the Order of Mapungubwe (Silver) from the President of South Africa. In 2012, he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the NRF and in 2014 the Gold Medal of the Southern African Association for the Advancement of Science.
Emeritus Professor Nurick has been working in the field of impact dynamics for over twenty years. During this period he has supervised over 35 MSc and PhD graduates who are now spread around the world and has over 100 academic publications covering the following topics; Impact and Blast Dynamics; Crashworthiness; Material Properties at High Strain Rates; Metals and Composites; Human Response and Survivability; Impact on Sports Equipment; and Comminution. Professor Nurick is on the Editorial Board of the International Journal of Impact Engineering and The Latin American Journal of Solids and Structures. He has also served on the International Scientific Committee of numerous International Conferences around the world.
Emeritus Professor Opie is among the world's foremost scholars of heart disease. As a Rhodes Scholar he earned a DPhil from Oxford and trained with two Nobel prize winners. After a postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard Medical School, he returned to South Africa in 1971. His contributions have been in the area of cardiac metabolism during ischaemia and drug use. His Glucose Hypothesis, published in 1970, has proved durable and he discovered the role of excess cyclic AMP in sudden fatal heart attacks. Among other honours, Opie is a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians, the American College of Cardiology, the European Society of Cardiology and the International Society of Heart Research. He has been president of the International Society of Heart Research, the South African Cardiac Society and the South African Hypertension Society.
Professor Reason is involved with research relating to Southern Hemisphere climate variability, southern African rainfall variability, mesoscale and coastal meteorology, tropical meteorology and oceanography, severe weather, ocean-atmosphere interactions, Indian and South Atlantic Oceans, Southern Ocean, and ocean and atmospheric modelling. His professional affiliations include GOOS – Indian Ocean Panel; ARGO – Geophysical research letters, International Journal of Climatology, AGU Publications Committee, American Meteorological Society, Chair of Committee on Southern Hemisphere Meteorology and Oceanography, and the SASAS council.
Professor Reddy has a PhD from Cambridge University. His research interests lie at the intersection of continuum mechanics, applied functional analysis, and numerical analysis and computing. His research programmes address some or all of the following issues: the formulation in mathematical terms of problems in continuum mechanics; studies of the well-posedness of such problems; construction by computational means of approximate solutions; and studies of the quality of such approximations. He also has a serious involvement in finite element analysis. Recent major interests have been in the areas of plasticity, biomechanics, and mixed finite element methods. Awards include the National Order of Mapungubwe (Bronze). He is president of the Academy of Science of South Africa; co-chair of the InterAcademy Council; Executive Committee member of the IAP, a global network of the world's science academies and President-elect of the International Council for Science
Professor of economics, Don Ross, was the first dean of a South African commerce faculty to be awarded an A-rating by the National Research Foundation (he was dean of UCT's Faculty of Commerce from 2010 to 2015). Ross's research unites economic methodology, experimental economics and econometrics, cognitive science and the philosophy of science. He is also programme director for Methodology at the Centre for Economic Analysis of Risk (CEAR) at Georgia State University in Atlanta.
Professor Peter Ryan is Director of the FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology, which forms the core of a DST-NRF Centre of Excellence using Birds as Keys to Biodiversity Conservation. He completed his MSc and PhD in zoology at UCT. After a short stint teaching at the University of California Davis he returned to UCT in 1993 to coordinate the very successful MSc course in conservation biology. Peter’s broad research interests centre on understanding and managing environmental issues that affect birds, including plastic pollution at sea, island restoration, impacts of fisheries on seabirds, and infrastructure impacts on terrestrial birds. In addition to more than 300 peer-reviewed papers, he has written 12 popular books on birds and the wildlife of sub-Antarctic islands.
Professor Rybicki is director of the Biopharming Research Unit (BRU) in the Department of Molecular & Cell Biology. After completing a PhD in virology, he rose through the ranks to become a professor in microbiology in 2003.He is a founder member of the Institute of Infectious Disease and Molecular Medicine (IDM). In 2015, he received the first Deputy Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Achievement in Innovation. His areas of expertise are vaccines, plant expression systems, plant biotechnology and virus diversity. Rybicki is an inventor on some 17 patent families, with around 44 country patents published.
Distinguished Professor Salazar is a graduate in philosophy, politics and literature from Ecole normale supérieure and the Sorbonne (Paris). He is a distinguished professor of rhetoric at UCT and director of the Centre for Rhetoric Studies. He is a former director in rhetoric and democracy at Jacques Derrida's foundation, Collège International de Philosophie, Paris. He is a Life Fellow at UCT and has held a continuous A1 rating since its inception by the academic research rating agency of South Africa. He is the 2008 laureate of the Harry Oppenheimer award.
Emeritus Professor Shearing is currently a senior scholar at the Law Faculty, and a professor at the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, Griffith University, Australia. He has held the position of the DST/NRF South African National Research Foundation Chair (SARChI) in Security and Justice, as well as the chair of criminology and the director of the Centre of Criminology at UCT. He has made many contributions to policy development for security strategy and is an internationally recognised scholar in the field of policing and security. His research has focused on the development of theoretical understandings that can be used to enhance the quality of security and justice governance. He is also developing research on environmental security.
Professor Solms is best known for his landmark discovery of the brain mechanisms of dreaming, and for his interest in the integration of modern neuroscience with psychoanalytic theories and methods. He is currently professor in neuropsychology at UCT, a lecturer in neurosurgery at St Bartholomew’s and the Royal London School of Medicine, and director of the Neuropsychoanalysis Center of the New York Psychoanalytic Institute. He is widely published and his Clinical Studies in Neuro-Psychoanalysis won the Gradiva Award for Best Book, Science Category. His latest, The Brain and the Inner World, is a best-seller, translated into 13 languages. The American Psychiatric Association named him International Psychiatrist of the year 2000.
Professor Stein (BSc, MB ChB, FRCPC, FRSSAf, PhD, DPhil) is professor and chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Mental Health, and director of the MRC Unit on Anxiety and Stress Disorders. His research focuses on the psychobiology and management of the anxiety disorders, including obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and social anxiety disorder. Stein’s work has been continuously funded by extramural grants for more than 15 years. He is a recipient of the International College of Neuropsychopharmacology (CINP)’s Max Hamilton Memorial Award for his contribution to psychopharmacology, and of CINP's Ethics and Psychopharmacology Award for his contribution to the philosophy of psychopharmacology.
Professor Taylor, a leading radio astronomer, holds a joint Research Chair at UCT and University of the Western Cape. Taylor has extensive expertise in wide-field polarisation, cosmic magnetism and big data. He has played a prominent role in the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project since its inception, and co-authored the first SKA science case. He is currently the chair of the Canadian SKA Consortium and represents Canada as one of the national members on the Board of the SKA Organisation. He has served as the founding executive secretary of the International SKA Steering Committee, and vice-chair of the International SKA Science and Engineering Committee.
Professor van Honk of the Department of Psychiatry and Mental Health is a world leader in the multidisciplinary field of hormones, the brain and human social-emotional behaviour. Van Honk has a double professorship position in the Department of Experimental Psychology at the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences of Utrecht University as well as UCT. He studies the changes in behaviour and in functional activity measured through 3 Tesla functional MRI in patients who have lost part of their amygdala due to calcification as a result of Urbach-Wiethe syndrome.
Warner, past vice-president of the International Astronomical Union, is emeritus distinguished professor of natural philosophy at UCT. He is a member of the South African Academy of Science and an honorary life member of the Cape Town Historical Society. He is fellow of the Third World Academy of Science as well as fellow of the University College London. He is honorary fellow of the Royal Society of South Africa. His career spans some 50 years and has produced a prodigious scientific output, and one of his books, Cataclysmic Variable Stars, is considered definitive in its field.
Associate Professor Weigert (Dipl Phys dr rer nat habil Regensburg) is the director of the Centre of Theoretical and Mathematical Physics (CTMP), a National Institute for Theoretical Physics (NITheP) affiliate as well as a member of SA-CERN and UCT-CERN. He is interested in quantum chromodynamics (QCD) at high energies and densities as encountered in virtually all modern collider experiments. His field of research has centered on the color glass condensate (CGC), a highly correlated state of predominantly gluons.
Professor Whitelock is a core member of the Astrophysics, Cosmology and Gravitation Centre. She is also the former director for the South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO). Her research into stellar evolution, galactic structure and the stellar content of Local Group galaxies has helped to broaden the frontier of astronomy worldwide. She has taken special interest in how pulsating red giants can be used as distance indicators, helping to establish the distances of various galaxies and to study the structure of our own. In 2000, she was appointed a Fellow of the Royal Society of South Africa (FRSSAf).
Wilkinson (MA PhD DTM&H FRCP), honorary professor in the Department of Medicine, is director of the Clinical Infectious Disease Research Initiative (CIDRI) and a full member of the Institute of Infectious Disease and Molecular Medicine (IDM). He has established an enviable track record in the study of infectious diseases, particularly TB (Mycobacterium tuberculosis) and HIV. He has shed considerable light in areas such as TB-HIV drug interaction and early detection of treatment response. He is a Wellcome Senior Fellow, professor in Infectious Diseases (Imperial College London) and group leader of the The Francis Crick Institute Mill Hill Laboratory, London.
Robin Wood is the director of the Desmond Tutu HIV Centre, CEO of the Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation and Professor Emeritus of Medicine at the University of Cape Town. Wood is a world leader in the field of HIV/AIDS research. The South African Medical Society gave him a lifetime award for his services to HIV research. He was also a member of the governing council of the International AIDS Society, and a founding member of the Southern African HIV Clinicians Society. Wood has led the production of several South African national guidelines on the use of antiretrovirals.
Paediatric pulmonologist Professor Zar is head of the Department of Paediatrics and Child Health and director of the Division of Paediatric Pulmonology at the Red Cross War Memorial Childrens' Hospital. She has a PhD from UCT on respiratory illness in HIV-infected children. Her research focuses on child lung health and uses a translational approach to apply complex technology to clinical problems using a wide range of methodologies. Areas of research interest include childhood TB, pneumonia, HIV-associated lung disease, asthma and the development of a low-cost spacer device. She holds leadership positions in a number of national and international organisations including the vice president of the Pan African Thoracic Society and the president elect of the South African Thoracic Society. In 2014, she received the World Lung Health Award from the American Thoracic Society.