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Claude Leon Merit Award

The goal of the Claude Leon Merit Award was to recognise early-career researchers of distinction every year. The awards were offered in recognition of meritorious scholarly work in one of the following research fields:

  • natural sciences
  • medical sciences (excluding clinical research)
  • engineering.

Below is a list of all the previous winners of this prestigious award.

This award is no longer conferred as funding is not available.


alt="SahalDr Sahal Jacoob, Department of Physics, Faculty of Science

Sahal Jacoob's research focus is the Higgs boson, the elusive particle that gives matter mass, and the mysterious “top quark”, the giant among all observed elementary particles. Jacoob has been studying elementary particles for over 10 years and was part of the team that detected the Higgs boson 5 years ago.


Katye AltieriDr Katye Altieri, Department of Oceanography, Faculty of Science

The focus of Katye Altieri's research is the impact of air pollution on the ocean, and the chemical composition and climate impact of organic aerosols. She also serves as senior research officer in the Energy Research Center at UCT.


David IkumiAssociate Professor Adeniyi Isafiade, Department of Chemical Engineering, Faculty of Engineering and Built Environment

Adeniyi Isafiade's research focuses on process synthesis and optimisation of energy and water supply networks. The work involves developing mathematical models that can be used to represent as many possible options of different networks that meet energy and water demand in a cost-effective and environmentally friendly way.


Joseph RaimondoDr Joseph Raimondo, Department of Human Biology, Faculty of Health Sciences

Joseph Raimondo's research focuses on understanding why brains seize. His lab’s research attempts to answer this question by examining the cellular and circuit level interactions between brain cells, which result in the development of epileptic seizures.


Sarah FawcettAssistant Professor Sarah Fawcett, Department of Oceanography, Faculty of Science

Sarah Fawcett's research aims to identify the sources of nitrogen pollution in False Bay, evaluate how far offshore the pollution can persist and, through a dedicated monitoring programme, understand what happens to it once it enters the water. Fawcett hopes the study will support a long-term monitoring plan for the bay area as little is known about the chemical make-up of its water, how this varies seasonally and how its vigorous circulation prevents stagnation.





Amir PatelDr Amir Patel, Department of Electrical Engineering, Faculty of Engineering and Built Environment

Amir Patel's research focuses on understanding how animals and robots move. His work includes building a four-legged robot based on his PhD research investigating the mechanisms of cheetah maneuverability.


Sudesh SivarasuDr Sudesh Sivarasu, Department of Human Biology, Faculty of Health Sciences

The expertise of Sudesh Sivarasu includes design of medical devices and orthopaedic biomechanical devices with a special focus on health technologies for low-resourced settings. He also conceptualised the Frugal Biodesign Process and adopted it for medical devices innovation in India and South Africa.


David IkumiDr David Ikumi, Department of Civil Engineering, Faculty of Engineering and Built Environment

David Ikumi's research focuses on the mathematical modelling of wastewater treatment systems. His work, carried through from postgraduate research, seeks to contribute solutions to averting the current water crisis in the water scarce countries of Africa.


Fleur HowelssDr Fleur Howells, Department of Psychiatry and Mental Health, Faculty of Health Sciences

Fleur Howells is a neuroscientist who conducts studies in translational animal models of psychiatric disorders and uses multi-modal brain imaging techniques to better understand human psychiatric disorders. Her research focuses particularly on psychosis, including schizophrenia and methamphetamine-induced psychosis.


Johann DienerDr Johann Diener, Department of Geological Sciences, Faculty of Science

The research of Johann Diener focuses on metamorphic rocks, which form at high pressures and temperatures deep in the Earth's crust. He is particularly interested in what happens once these rocks become hot enough to melt, because those processes play an important role in determining the composition and strength of the continents. 


Malvin VarugheseDr Melvin Varughese, Department of Statistical Sciences, Faculty of Science

Melvin Varughese is a statistician whose work focuses on diffusion processes, a statistical model useful for capturing the dynamics of phenomena that change randomly over time. Varughese has also used machine-learning techniques to analyse astronomical datasets – in particular, developing automated procedures to classify transient astronomical objects.