Alan Pifer Research Award for socially responsive research

The Alan Pifer Research Award is the Vice-Chancellor's annual prize in recognition of outstanding welfare-related research. It highlights the strategic goal of promoting socially responsive research, and honours a UCT researcher whose outreach work has contributed to the advancement and welfare of South Africa's disadvantaged people.


Ingrid Woolard

Ingrid Woolard (2015)

Ingrid Woolard, Professor in the School of Economics and Dean of Commerce, won the 2015 Alan Pifer Award for her notable contributions to the analysis of poverty and inequality, and unemployment in South Africa, and the way she used her data to undertake a number of highly influential research papers to carry her work through to official policy work. Read full profile.

See all Alan Pifer Award winners

Claude Leon Merit Award

The Claude Leon Foundation presents, on an annual basis, the Claude Leon Merit Award to recognise younger academics of distinction in the fields of natural sciences, medical sciences and engineering.


Amir Patel

Amir Patel (2016)

The research focus of Dr Amir Patel (Department of Electrical Engineering) is on understanding how animals and robots move. He is currently working on building a four-legged robot based on his PhD research investigating the mechanisms of cheetah maneuvrability. Read full profile.


Sudesh Sivarasu

Sudesh Sivarasu (2016)

The expertise of Dr Sudesh Sivarasu (Department of Human Biology) 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. Read full profile.


David Ikumi

David Ikumi (2016)

The research focus of Dr David Ikumi (Department of Civil Engineering) is 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. Read full profile.


Fleur Howelss

Fleur Howells (2016)

Dr Fleur Howells (Department of Psychiatry) 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. Read full profile.


Johann Diener

Johann Diener (2016)

The research of Dr Johann Diener (Department of Geological Sciences) 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 Varughese

Melvin Varughese (2016)

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

See all Claude Leon Merit Award winners

Creative Works Award

The Creative Works Award was established to recognise major creative works, including art works, performances, productions, compositions and architectural designs produced by UCT staff.


Jay Pather

Jay Pather (2016)

Associate Professor Jay Pather, director of the Gordon Institute for Performing and Creative Art,has won the 2016 UCT Creative Works Award for Qaphela Caesar. A multi-disciplinary take on Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, it offers perspectives on power, greed and betrayal that shine a light on the current state of South Africa. Read full profile.

Harry Oppenheimer Fellowship Award

The Harry Oppenheimer Fellowship Award serves to reward excellence and exceptional scholarship in all its forms. It is granted to candidates of the highest calibre in order to enable them to undertake a programme of cutting-edge, internationally significant work.


Xolela Mangcu

Xolela Mangcu (2016)

Xolela Mangcu is professor in sociology at UCT. He is an Oppenheimer Fellow at the Hutchins Centre for African and African American Research at Harvard University and the author and co-author of nine books, and more than two dozen journal articles and book chapters. Read full profile.

See all UCT's Harry Oppenheimer Fellowship Award winners

NRF Awards

The annual National Research Foundation (NRF) Awards are special recognition awards that provide a platform to honour researchers for their career achievements and contribute to knowledge creation and dissemination, as well as capacity development and transformation in the national research system.


Mark Engel (Research Excellence Award for Early Career/Emerging Researcher 2016)

The expertise of Mark Engel, associate professor in the Department of Medicine, lies in epidemiology and evidence-based medicine research methods. His research includes all aspects of rheumatic heart disease, with particular interest in Group A Streptococcus (GAS), the organism involved in disease development. Engel shares this award with Professor Nosipho Moloto of the University of the Witwatersrand.

See all UCT's NRF Award winners

NSTF Awards in partnership with South32

The National Science and Technology Forum (NSTF) Awards are a collaborative effort with South32 to recognise those who have made outstanding contributions to science, engineering, technology and innovation (SETI). These prestigious awards celebrate, acknowledge and promote excellence in the South African research and development community by cross-cutting sectors, levels, gender and race, while recognising both individuals and teams.


Crick Lund

Crick Lund (TW Kambule-NSTF Award for research and its outputs 2015/2016)

The research of Professor Crick Lund, director of the Alan J Flisher Centre for Public Health, has pioneered the development of mental policies and services to address the growing burden of mental illness in South Africa and other low and middle-income countries (LMIC). His scientific work has had a significant impact on the development of norms for mental health services, drafting of national mental health policies, development of WHO guidelines for mental health policy and services, identification of major social determinants of mental illness in LMIC, interventions that address the cycle of poverty and mental illness, and delivery and evaluation of new models of mental health care. 


Sue Harrison

Sue Harrison (Research or Engineering Capacity Development Award 2015/2016)

Professor Sue Harrison, director of the Centre for Bioprocess Engineering Research and DST/NRF SARChI chair in bioprocess engineering, is an accomplished bioprocess engineer, integrating the chemical engineering, mineral processing and biotechnology disciplines. Through inter-disciplinary research, her expertise in bioprocess systems, bioreactor design and process integration delivers solutions for bioremediation, mineral bioprocessing, algal biotechnology, fine chemicals and bioenergy. Harrison’s research builds a holistic understanding of the biology, engineering and bioprocesses, essential to a sustainable bioeconomy, based on maximising renewable materials and resource productivity while minimising waste burden, including wastewater burden.


Peter Dunsby

Peter Dunsby (Research or Engineering Capacity Development Award 2015/2016)

Peter Dunsby is professor of cosmology and co-director of the Astrophysics, Cosmology and Gravity Centre (in the Department of Mathematics and Applied Mathematics). His strategy for developing human capital has over the past twelve years focused on a pioneering initiative to develop the next generation of astronomers and space scientists – The National Astrophysics and Space Science Programme. He has also developed a highly successful integrated research programme in his own discipline (theoretical cosmology), involving postgraduate students, postdoctoral researchers and international collaborators, which has led to a significant growth of research capacity at UCT and at other tertiary institutions in South Africa.


Tolu Oni

Tolullah Oni (TW Kambule-NSTF Award for emerging researcher 2015/2016)

The research of Dr Tolullah Oni, senior lecturer at the School of Public Health and Family Medicine, aims to contribute significantly to knowledge on the changing patterns of disease and the implications this has for the health and wellbeing of the population in the context of urbanisation. Her current research focuses on urban health and equity, and specifically on the understanding of the interaction between commonly co-occurring chronic conditions (HIV, TB and non-communicable diseases), upstream health determinants, the unplanned urban environment and the impact on health outcomes. 


Sudesh Sivarasu

Sudesh Sivarasu (TW Kambule-NSTF Award for emerging researcher 2015/2016)

Up to to 95% of medical devices are imported in South Africa. This is primarily due to lack of innovations related to medical devices within the country. To change this situation, Dr Sudesh Sivarasu, senior lecturer in biomedical engineering, adopted his Frugal Biodesign Process™ and has developed several medical devices in the last five years. These devices are at various technology readiness levels (TRLs) and some of the devices are in pre-clinical devices. During this process, Dr Sivarasu has filed four patent family applications and has three granted patents for medical devices and several MedTech awards for his innovations. 

See all UCT's NSTF Award winners

S2A3 Awards

The Southern Africa Association for the Advancement of Science (S2A3) is the oldest scientific organisation in South Africa. Each year the S2A3 Awards recognise promising postgraduate students, young and established scientists.


Timothy Noakes (Gold Medal 2014)

Timothy Noakes, emeritus professor and former professor of exercise and sports science at UCT, was awarded the South Africa Medal (Gold) in 2014. He co-founded the Sports Science Institute of South Africa (SSASI) and has produced more than 500 scientific publications, has been cited more than 15 000 times in the scientific literature, has an h-index of 66 and is rated an A1 scientist by the National Research Foundation of South Africa.



Genevieve Langdon (Silver Medal 2013)

Genevieve Langdon, professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, was awarded the British Association Medal (Silver) in recognition of her outstanding research on the effects of explosion loading on lightweight materials.

See all UCT's S2A3 Award winners

UCT Book Awards and Meritorious Book Awards

The UCT Book Award and Meritorious Book Award recognise the publication of outstanding books written by members of staff.


Litheko Modisane

South Africa’s Renegade Reels (2016)

Dr Litheko Modisane, senior lecturer at the Centre for Film and Media Studies, has won the 2016 UCT Book Award for South Africa’s Renegade Reels: The Making and Public Lives of Black-Centred Films. His winning work inspects the circulation and reception of anti-apartheid cinema and breaks new ground for traditional ways of analysing films. Read more.


Jenni Case

Researching Student Learning in Higher Education (2015)

Professor Jenni Case’s book Researching Student Learning in Higher Education: A social realist approach is the winner of UCT’s Meritorious Book Award for 2015. In her winning book, Case tackles crucial aspects of students’ access and success in higher education and asks questions about the role that higher education should play in post-apartheid South Africa. Case is based at UCT’s Centre for Research in Engineering and Science Education. Read more.

See all UCT Book Award and Meritorious Book Award winners

Women in Science Awards

The Department of Science and Technology holds the annual Women in Science Awards (WISA) to recognise and reward women scientists and researchers and profile them as role models for younger women.


Professor Alison Lewis (Distinguished Woman Scientist – Research and Innovation award 2016)

Professor Alison Lewis, dean of UCT’s Faculty of Engineering & the Built Environment, received the award for her overall contribution to research and innovation in the physical and engineering sciences. Her longstanding interest in water and water treatment in an increasingly water-scarce South Africa led to her research into the treatment of acid mine drainage. This resulted in a process called eutectic freeze crystallisation, which converts contaminated mine water into clean potable water. 



Belinda Speed

Belinda Speed (DST Doctoral Scholarship 2016)

Belinda Speed is currently completing her PhD in forensic medicine in the Department of Pathology. Using pig carcasses as a substitute for human bodies, her research focuses on the baseline decomposition rates of bodies in the marine environment in the Western Cape climate; and aims to provide comparative data that can be used by local forensic anthropologists to help identify bodies and provide sound evidence in court cases. Speed hopes that this will provide closure to families who have lost loved ones.



Xolisile Thusini

Xolisile Thusini (Tata Africa Master’s Scholarship 2016)

Xolisile Thusini is currently completing her master’s in experimental high-energy physics in UCT’s Department of Physics. Her research project on the ATLAS experiment (a particle physics experiment at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN) is helping to search for the extremely rare fundamental interactions: the same sign W boson scattering within proton–proton collisions produced by the Large Hadron Collider.

See all UCT's Women in Science Award winners