ASSAf Members in the News

Honorary awards/accolades

Prof Ivan Turok

Prof Ivan Turok has been awarded a Research Chair in City-Region Economies in the Department of Economics and Finance and the Centre for Development Support at the University of the Free State (UFS). The Research Chair is the first partnership of its kind between a South African university and the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC). He will hold the Research Chair

Prof Turok is currently an Executive Director in the Economic Performance and Development unit at the HRSC.

Prof Mamokgethi Phakeng

Prof Mamokgethi Phakeng was honoured by Toastmasters Southern Africa with the 2020 Communication and Leadership Achievement Award.

The award is presented to a non-Toastmasters member who has made significant contributions in the fields of communication and leadership in Southern Africa.

She is currently Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cape Town.

Prof Patricia Whitelock

Prof Patricia Whitelock has been awarded an honorary doctorate by Rhodes University at its 2020 virtual graduation ceremonies. The Honorary doctorate recognises her extensive and considerable contributions to various areas of research in astrophysics and astronomy, human capacity development and transformation in South Africa.

She is an Astronomer with the South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO) and an Honorary Professor with the University of Cape Town.

2019/2020 NSTF-South 32 Awards

Three ASSAf Members were honoured for their research contributions at the 2019/2020 NSTF-South 32 Awards:

Prof Michèle Ramsay

Prof Michèle Ramsay is the recipient of the Lifetime Award for Achievement, in recognition of her pioneering genomic medicine approaches in Africa and leading the transcontinental study on factors that contribute to African diseases.

She is the director of the Sydney Benner Institute for Molecular Bioscience (SBIMB) at the University of the Witwatersrand and Professor in Human Genetics and South African Research Chair in Genomics and Bioinformatics of African Populations.

Prof Faizal Bux

Prof Faizal Bux is the recipient of the Water Research Commission Award, in recognition for his research on wastewater as a resource and not a burden to society.  

He is Professor and Director of the Institute for Water and Wastewater Technology at Durban University of Technology.

Prof Michael Wingfield

Prof Michael Wingfield is the recipient of the Special Annual Theme Award: Plant Health Through this Award he has been recognised for being globally renowned as a South African plant pathologist for a lifetime of contributions to the identification and management of plant diseases, as well as for his role in educating and mentoring a significant number of plant pathologists and entomologists globally.

He is Professor and Director of the Forestry and Agricultural Biotechnology Institute (FABI) at the University of Pretoria.


The National Science and Technology Forum (NSTF) Awards encourage and reward excellence in scientific research, technological innovation, environmental sustainability/Green Economy, technology transfer, education & training, capacity building, management and communication & outreach, thereby honouring and celebrating outstanding contributions to science, engineering, technology and innovation (SETI) since 1998, in partnership with South32 (a spin-off company from BHP Billiton).


Prof Zeblon Vilakazi

Prof Zeblon Vilakazi has been appointed as the fifteenth Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) from 1 January 2021. Prof Vilakazi will take the reins from Prof Adam Habib who leaves Wits at the end of the year to lead the School of Oriental and African Studies in London.

Prof Vilakazi is the current Vice-Principal and Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Research and Postgraduate Studies at Wits.

Prof Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela

Prof Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela has been elected as Fellow of the prestigious Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University, USA. The institute brings together scholars, students, and practitioners to engage with issues that can only be fully understood by drawing on research from across the humanities, sciences, social sciences, arts, and professions.

She holds the position of Research Chair of Social Change and Transformation at Stellenbosch University.

Prof Taryn Young

Prof Taryn Young has been appointed as the new executive head of the Department of Global Health at Stellenbosch University.

She is also the Director of the Centre for Evidence-based Health Care and Head of Division of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at Stellenbosch University.

Prof Malegapuru Makgoba

Prof Malegapuru Makgoba has been appointed by the United States government to serve on its Data and Safety Monitoring Board for the first COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials. Prof Makgoba will be part of the 12-member expert panel. Prof Makgoba is the Health Ombudsman at the Office of Health Standards Compliance.

Prof Anusuya Chinsamy-Turan

Prof Anusuya Chinsamy-Turan was elected as BirdLife South Africa’s new Honorary President. She is a Palaeobiologist in the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Cape Town.

Prof Jeffrey Mphahlele

Prof Jeffrey Mphahlele has been appointed by the Minister of Health to serve on its newly formed Ministerial Advisory Committee on Vaccines. He is the Vice President for Research of the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC).

Three ASSAf members were elected as fellows of the African Academy of Sciences (AAS). They are:

Prof Harald Winkler is Professor in the Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment at the University of Cape Town.

Prof Christian Pirk is a Professor and heads up the Social Insects Research Group (SIRG) in the Department of Zoology and Entomology at the University of Pretoria. 

Prof Shane Norris is Director of the Department of Science and Innovation/National Research Foundation’s Centre of Excellence in Human Development based at University of the Witwatersrand.