SAGE Steering Committee Members
Prof Jerome Amir Singh (BA, LLB, LLM, MHSc, PhD) serves as the Principal Investigator of the Scientific Advisory Group on Emergencies (SAGE), which operates under the auspices of the Academy of Sciences of South Africa (ASSAf) and the South African Young Academy of Sciences (SAYAS). He is Adjunct Professor in the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada and Honorary Research Fellow at the Howard College School of Law, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa. In his role as the Director of the Ethical, Legal, and Social Issues (ELSI) Advisory Services on Global Health Research and Development, Prof Singh serves as an ad hoc Consultant to several United Nation entities, including the World Health Organisation (WHO), UNAIDS, and UNICEF. He currently serves on several advisory and oversight bodies related to humanitarian and emergency issues, including the International Ethics Review Board of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF). He has previously served as a consultant to the WHO on H5N1, XDR-TB, and HIV. In 2017, Dr Singh was appointed by the WHO Director-General (DG) to serve as a member of WHO’s International Health Regulations ‘Public Health Emergency of International Concern’ Expert Roster. In 2020, he was appointed by the WHO DG to serve as a member of the WHO’s Ad Hoc Research Ethics Review Committee (ERC) for COVID-19. He also serves on the WHO Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator Ethics & Governance Working Group, and the WHO Technical Advisory Group (TAG) for Emergency Use Listing of COVID-19 vaccines. He has served as an advisor to the WHO on identifying and connecting known, new or emerging issues that could significantly impact global health. Singh serves as a member of the South African National AIDS Council (SANAC) Legal and Human Rights Technical Task Team, the Bioethics Advisory Panel of the South African Medical Research Council (SA MRC), and co-chairs the US NIH-funded Ethics Working Group of the HIV Prevention Trial Network (HPTN). He has previously co-directed the Ethical, Social, and Cultural Issues Advisory Services of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s Grand Challenges in Global Health Initiative, and served as the Head of Ethics at CAPRISA. He is an elected Founding Member and inaugural two-term Co-Chair of SAYAS.
Affiliation and research profile:
Dr Caradee Wright is a member of the Steering Committee of the Scientific Advisory Group on Emergencies (SAGE), which operates under the auspices of the Academy of Sciences of South Africa (ASSAf) and the South African Young Academy of Sciences (SAYAS). Caradee Wright is a Senior Specialist Scientist at the South African Medical Research Council leading the Climate and Health Research Programme and with a PhD in Public Health. She is also an Adjunct Lecturer at the University of Pretoria, Research Associate at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University and Senior Research Associate at the University of Johannesburg. Her research focuses on environmental health in Africa, with a focus on understanding climate change, air pollution and health impacts to inform interventions and prevent adverse health outcomes. Caradee was a recent committee member of the World Health Organization 2021 Air Quality Guidelines Committee. She is currently a Council member of the American Society for Photobiology and an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Assessment Report 6 Africa Chapter author. Caradee has more than 100 research articles in accredited journals. She was recently an author of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Frontiers report on Preventing the Next Pandemic, UNEP Global Environment Synthesis Report and the UNEP Measuring Progress Towards the SDGs. Presently, she is a Chapter Lead Author for the UNEP/SEI/CCAC Africa Assessment on Air Pollution and Climate Change and a lead author of the Network of African Science Academies Protecting Human Health against Climate Change in Africa report. One of her recent research project was a large South African survey during lockdown (conducted online and telephonically) to understand household air pollution changes and impacts on respiratory health, including among people infected with COVID-19. She is an elected Founding Member and inaugural two-term Co-Chair of SAYAS.
Dr Marizvikuru Manjoro-Mwale serves in the Steering Committee of the Scientific Advisory Group on Emergencies (SAGE), which operates under the auspices of the Academy of Sciences of South Africa (ASSAf) and the South African Young Academy of Sciences (SAYAS). She is a member of the prestigious South African Young Academy of Science and currently the SAYAS 2020/2021 co-chair. Dr Manjoro is a Senior Lecturer and coordinator of Postgraduate programmes in the Institute for Rural Development at the University of Venda (UNIVEN), South Africa. She holds a PhD in Animal Science from the University of Fort Hare, South Africa. Her research interests include indigenous knowledge systems (IKS), ethno-veterinary medicine, livestock production, water security, and food and nutrition security for improved rural livelihoods. Currently, she is leading research on village chicken and ethno-veterinary medicine for enhanced food security in rural communities and Water Security and Socio-Hydrological resilience of Rural Small-scale Crop Value Chains co-funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) under the Partnerships for Enhanced Engaged Research (PEER) programme and the Department of Science and Innovation. Dr Manjoro is a member and serves in the Steering Committee of Research Ethics and Integrity Community of Practice for the Northern region, including Gauteng, Limpopo and North-West Provinces, and Botswana. She is a certified Professional Natural Scientist with the South African Council for Natural Scientific Professions (SACNASP). She is also a member of the International Association for Community Development, South African Society for Animal Science and Society for Medicinal Plants and Natural Products. At UNIVEN, Dr Manjoro serves the Research Advisory Forum and Social Sciences Research Ethics Committee for which she is the Deputy Chairperson. She reviews and moderates grant proposals for National Research Foundation (NRF), and manuscripts for various journals, in particular, the South African Journal of Animal Science for which she is a sub-editor. Dr Manjoro is a promising young scientist with a Y2 NRF-rating.
Dr Keagan Pokpas is a member of the Steering Committee of the Scientific Advisory Group on Emergencies (SAGE), which operates under the auspices of the Academy of Sciences of South Africa (ASSAf) and the South African Young Academy of Sciences (SAYAS). Dr. Pokpas serves as a lecturer of NanoElectrochemistry and sensor technologies within the Department of Chemistry at the University of the Western Cape (UWC) and research leader in SensorLab and Senergy laboratories. He holds an MSc in Nanochemistry and a PhD in Electroanalytical chemistry specializing in electrochemical sensing systems. He Keagan’s research focuses on the development of environmental monitoring, point-of-care diagnostics and early detection systems relying on low-cost and portable disposable materials to aid impoverished communities. His current research focuses on the creation of rapid diagnostic Covid-19 sensing devices and monitoring of antibody production to evaluate vaccine efficacy. Dr. Pokpas is passionate about educating the broader public on safe Covid-19 practices by disseminating and communicating the often complex science into understandable and digestible formats. He strongly believes in the importance of science to direct legislation and believes that all scientists play a role in directing the future of South African policies regarding Covid-19 and pandemics as a whole. Keagan currently serves on the EXCO of the South African Young Academy of Science (SAYAS) and a number of national and international chemistry bodies.
Affiliation and research profile:
Adeyemi O. Aremu is a member of the Steering Committee of the Scientific Advisory Group on Emergencies (SAGE), which operates under the auspices of the Academy of Sciences of South Africa (ASSAf) and the South African Young Academy of Sciences (SAYAS). Adeyemi serves as an Associate Professor at the Centre for Indigenous Knowledge Systems, North-West University, South Africa. He is also an Honorary Researcher with the School of Life Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN), South Africa. He holds a BSc (Hons, 2006) Botany degree from Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Nigeria while his MSc (Ethnobotany, 2010) and PhD (Botany, 2013) degrees were obtained from UKZN. Adeyemi is a Y-rated researcher and currently leading a research team focusing on the value-chain of African floras especially those with medicinal, horticultural and nutritional potential. He is a registered Professional Natural Scientist with the South African Council for Natural Scientific Professions (SACNASP), member of the International Society for Ethnopharmacology (ISE) and Council member of the South African Association of Botanists (SAAB). In recognition of his academic excellence and contribution to science, Adeyemi has received several awards and recognitions such as the Young Affiliate-ship with the African Academy of Sciences (AAS), Executive member of the South African Young Academy of Science (SAYAS), Claude Leon Fellowship and fellow of the African Science Leadership Programme (ASLP). He is also on the editorial board of four international journals and regularly review for more than 20 journals and funding organizations including the National Research Foundation (NRF) and the Royal Society’s Future Leaders – African Independent Research (FLAIR) Fellowship Committee. Adeyemi currently serves in the Biosafety and Biosecurity Standing Committee of the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf) and the Policy Influence Working Group of SAYAS with various activities relating to the importance of science-based evidence. In recent time, Adeyemi has been actively involved with the Dissemination of policy brief on COVID-19 Non-pharmaceutical interventions in the SADC region as a means of contributing to the on-going debate and vital role by young scientists in Africa.
Affiliation and academic profile
Research Gate: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Adeyemi-Aremu
Prof Pradeep Kumar is a member of the Steering Committee (Health, and Natural Sciences) of the Scientific Advisory Group on Emergencies (SAGE), which operates under the auspices of the Academy of Sciences of South Africa (ASSAf) and the South African Young Academy of Sciences (SAYAS). Trained as pharmacist, he is currently an Associate Professor of Pharmaceutics at Wits’ Department of Pharmacy and Pharmacology. He has an experience of over 10 years in academic teaching and research with pharmaceutics as the core subject along with biomaterial design, tissue engineering, and nanomedicine. His PhD thesis was focused on the design and development of polymer-engineered neural devices for potential application in reducing neurological deficits after spinal cord injuries and was awarded the Wits FHS Most Prestigious PhD Degree Award. In addition, he is interested in the in silico mathematical analysis and programming for performance interpretation of drug eluting assemblies and polymer architectures. He holds an NRF Y1 rating. Prof. Kumar is a recipient of several prestigious awards including ALBA-FKNE-YIBRO diversity grant (2020), GYA Membership (2020), INGSA-Africa Science Advice diploma (2020), Wits’ Friedel Sellschop Research Award (2019), SAYAS Membership (2018), ASRT Young African Researcher Award 2018, M&G Top 200 Young South Africans 2018, Claude Leon Foundation Merit Award (2018), African-German Network of Excellence in Science (AGNES) Junior Researcher Grant (2018) and Wits Innovators Forum’s First-time (2013), Prolific (2014) and International (2016) Inventor Awards. Prof. Kumar’s research findings have been published as over 250 ISI publications (H-index: 36), 4 editorials, 3 edited books, and 40 book chapters. Prof. Kumar is an inventor on 22 granted patents across six patent families. He has a keen interest in science policy advice, and evidence informed policy and practice; and is a member of the SAYAS and the Global Young Academy (GYA), and is an active member of the policy influence and science advice working groups in these academies, respectively. https://www.wits.ac.za/staff/academic-a-z-listing/k/pradeepkumarwitsacza/
Aliza le Roux is a member of the Steering Committee of the Scientific Advisory Group on Emergencies (SAGE), which operates under the auspices of the Academy of Sciences of South Africa (ASSAf) and the South African Young Academy of Sciences (SAYAS). Aliza serves as Associate Professor and Assistant Dean of the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences at the University of the Free State, Qwaqwa. She is past co-chair of SAYAS (2018-2019), founding editor of the SAYAS postgraduate blog (https://sayasblog.com/), and current vice president of the Zoological Society of Southern Africa. She has been instrumental in many initiatives to empower women in academia. Currently, Aliza is steering a mentorship program at her rural campus, connecting with an American collaborator to specifically help young female academics grow professionally. As a behavioural ecologist investigating how wild carnivores and primates respond to risks in their environment, Aliza works on the interface between wildlife and anthropogenic change. Disease surveillance in wildlife is currently severely lacking and creates a blind spot in our preparedness for zoonotic disease outbreaks. She was the lead author on a recent popular press article on zoologists’ responses to COVID-19 (https://theconversation.com/what-zoologists-should-learn-from-a-zoonotic-pandemic-137951 ), which subsequently featured on eNCA. As part of the SAGE steering committee, she wants to emphasize the importance of monitoring and understanding processes in the natural world that increases our risk of future zoonotic disease outbreaks.
Affiliation and academic profile
Dr Sershen Naidoo is a member of the Steering Committee of the Scientific Advisory Group on Emergencies (SAGE), which operates under the auspices of the Academy of Sciences of South Africa (ASSAf) and the South African Young Academy of Sciences (SAYAS).Sershen has a PhD in Plant Biology from the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) and a Post-graduate Diploma in Higher Education. He is a Clinton Democracy Fellow and a fellow of the South African Young Academy of Sciences. He has served as an Associate Professor at UKZN, the Grants and Monitoring and Evaluation Officer at the South African Technology Network, and is presently the Executive Director of the Institute of Natural Resources. He is a multi-disciplinarian working across the Natural and Social Sciences on projects focused on plant ecophysiology, water and sanitation, waste management, urban ecology, tourism, climate change, sustainability science and more recently public health. He is a Honorary Research Fellow at the University of the Western Cape and a specialist in curriculum development, research design, and monitoring and evaluation within the Higher Education Sector. He is recognised for his seminal work in several disciplines in the Life Sciences with over 80 publications, several international keynote addresses and multiple high-level commissioned reports (most recently one on priority setting for COVID-19 management) to his name. Additionally, his involvement in numerous community-based projects across the country, has seen him being appointed as an expert consultant at a number of government and higher education events and being asked to serve on councils and boards of a number of influential organisations within the country.
Affiliation and academic profile
Research Gate: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Naidoo_Sershen