Home > Our researchers > Featured researchers

Featured researchers



A passion for finance law

19 April 2017

The Mandela Washington Fellowship is a programme that was created in 2014 by former US president Barack Obama and is named after former South African president Nelson Mandela.
Read full profile.


Mamokgethi Phakeng

"I will change this place - It's happening already"

7 February 2017

The University of Cape Town’s new head of research, Mamokgethi Phakeng, speaks about re-thinking excellence and the need to connect research with teaching and social consciousness.
Read full profile.



George Vicatos: where engineering and anatomy meet 

20 October 2016

For a long time Associate Professor George Vicatos felt that he was missing some piece of knowledge that rendered his relatively vast education incomplete.
Read full profile.



Karen Sliwa

Chance encounters: how Karen Sliwa is putting African cardiology on the map 

29 September 2016

Professor Karen Sliwa’s career has been characterised by chance and a lack of convention, and she has now broken convention again: the first female and the first person from Africa to be elected as president of the World Heart Federation. Read full profile.


George Ellis

George Ellis: awarded double honorary doctorates

07 July 2016

Senior Research Scholar, George Ellis, will receive honorary doctorates from Wits on 5 July (honouring his work in cosmology and physics), and the and the University of Pierre and Marie Curie, attached to the Sorbonne, on 11 October (for his work in general relativity and cosmology). Read full profile.


Kelly Chibale: chemistry his calling in life

27 June 2016

Professor Kelly Chibale, founder and director of the Drug Discovery and Development Centre (H3-D), strives to train a new generation of African scientists with the skills required to combat Africa's high burden of disease. The goal is to bridge the gap between basic research and clinical studies and ensure the pipeline of drug discovery and development remains on the continent. Read full profile.

Jay Pather


Jay Pather: the relationship between art and politics is ingrained

15 June 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

Xolela Mangcu

Xolela Mangcu: Mandela does not represent entire liberation struggle

9 June 2016

It’s important to understand that Mandela does not represent the entirety of the liberation struggle and the liberation movements, and that his emergence was a strategy of the ANC to reorganise itself and to reassert itself politically, says Professor Xolela Mangcu, winner of the Harry Oppenheimer Fellowship Award for 2016. Read full profile

Tolullah Oni

Tolullah Oni: promoting science and research to develop Africa

11 May 2016

Tolullah Oni, who was recently elected as a Next Einstein Fellow, hopes to develop Africa by promoting science, research and an interdisciplinary approach to public health. Read full profile

Rashida Manjoo

Rashida Manjoo: Glasgow to honour UCT legal expert on women's rights 

26 April 2016

Professor Rashida Manjoo of UCT’s Department of Public Law is to receive an honorary doctorate from the University of Glasgow in November this year for her work on human rights and social justice. Read more


Ingrid Woolard: social justice at heart

24 March 2016

When Ingrid Woolard threw her hat into the ring for the position as dean of commerce towards the end of 2015, it was with some hesitancy. The selection process had already gone two rounds and there was her research to think about – a body of work that has earned her a formidable reputation in government policy circles, but also has a good measure of personal significance. Read full profile.


Mamokgethi Phakeng: young people come first, says incoming DVC

15 January 2016

Having started school under a tree in Marapyane village in Mpumalanga in 1972, Mamokgethi Phakeng never envisaged herself as a professor; there was no role model to fire her imagination or kindle a desire. Read full profile.


Hanri Mostert: remedying Africa's resource crisis through the law

14 January 2016

Land is an emotive issue in Africa, perhaps made more so by the extraordinary mineral wealth that lies beneath it. One of the continent’s greatest paradoxes is the fact that the countries with the most mineral wealth are also often economically stagnant and politically unstable. Exploring – and attempting to resolve – complex issues such as these is a consistent theme in the work of Hanri Mostert, professor of private law and one of UCT’s recently elected National Research Foundation (NRF) South African Research (SARChI) Chairs. Read full profile.


Bongani Mayosi: healing hearts, making history

14 January 2016

Young Bongani Mayosi’s ambition to become a doctor was shaped in the back of a Land Rover, as the car bounced over the hills under the wide skies of the Amathole district in the Eastern Cape. It was the start of a journey that would eventually see him appointed as dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Cape Town. Read full profile.


Anusuya Chinsamy-Turan: bones, birds and dinosaurs: the tale of an accidental paleobiologist

12 October 2015

When a young Anusuya Chinsamy told the apartheid state she needed to study at the ‘white’ University of the Witwatersrand because of its excellent palaeo-anthropology department, she did not expect to spend a lifetime in the palaeosciences, or that she would go on to become a global leader in the field. Read full profile.


Robyn Pickering​: fossil dating expert to launch new uranium-series laboratory

25 September 2015

By the time Dr Robyn Pickering had finished school she’d toured Sterkfontein Caves and read all palaeoanthropologist Richard Leakey’s books. Coupling her interests in geology and palaeoanthropology, Pickering qualified as an isotope geochemist and has dated some noteworthy fossil finds. Read full profile.


Michael Feast

Michael Feast: the stellar academic who has a planet named after him

28 August 2015

Professor Michael Feast published his first paper in the prestigious journal Nature at the tender young age of 21. His most recent Nature paper, on Cepheid stars, was published 66 years later, when Feast was 87. He has published over 400 papers in his prolific career, is listed in the international Who's Who and has had a minor planet, Asteroid no 10985 Feast, named after him. Read full profile.


Robin Wood and Linda-Gail Bekker: investing in communities

March 2015

Emeritus Professor Robin Wood and Professor Linda-Gail Bekker, director and deputy-director of the Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation, won the 2014 Alan Pifer Award for excellence in Research, treatment, training and prevention of HIV-related diseases and infections in Southern Africa, Their journey has taken them from the dark days of AIDS denial to an important moment in the history of the epidemic. Read full profile.


Eric Bateman: tackling lung disease

March 2015

Professor Eric Bateman is a world-leading pulmonologist whose most important work has tackled the challenges of respiratory diseases such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and tuberculosis. He founded the UCT Lung Institute in 2000, which has since become an international beacon of innovative research. Read full profile.


Sue Parnell: designing cities

March 2015

According to Professor Sue Parnell, Department of Environmental and Geographical Sciences and Executive Committee member of the African Centre for Cities, a city can be governed to promote inclusion and provide for the urban poor, but this requires careful planning  and understanding of how resources are managed and used. Read full profile. 


Dan Stein: challenging the mental health stigma

March 2015

Psychiatric disorders account for the third largest portion of South Africa's disease burden. Yet mental disorders remain the most stigmatised and grossly neglected of medical conditions. Professor Dan Stein, head of the Department of Psychiatry and Mental Health, has dedicated more than 20 years of his life to the study of mental illness, with work ranging from clinical neuroscience through to public mental health. Read full profile.


Raj Ramesar: genetic research and intervention

March 2015

Professor Raj Ramesar, head of the Division of Human Grenetics and director of the UCT/MRC Human Genetics Research Unit, discovered a common genetic mutation linked to colorectal cancer in some of the most neglected communities in the Northern Cape of South Africa. In response he developed an intervention programme which successfully lowered mortality and morbidity in those communities. Read full profile.


Pippa Skotnes and Mark Fleishman: art and performance

March 2015

Every year in the small Western Cape town of Clanwilliam local schoolchildren take part in workshops hosted by UCT's arts and drama departments, which culminate in the annual Spring Festival in which the children of the town use their new arts and drama skills to tell the stories of San hunter-gatherers, the oldest inhabitants of southern Africa. Professor Pippa Skotnes, director of the Centre for Curating the Archive and Professor Mark Fleishman, programme convener for Theatre and Performance in the Department of Drama played an important role in developing this annual event.  Read full profile.


Timm Hoffman: changes in land use

March 2015

Professor Timm Hoffman, Leslie Hill Chair of Plant Conservation, Department of Biological Sciences, won the Alan Pifer Award for his work on the use of natural resources in the communal areas of South Africa; the impact of land degradation on people's lives and his continued efforts to ensure his research contains an active and relevant rural development component. Read full profile.


Alan Flisher: high-risk teenage behaviours

March 2015

It was for his work on the epidemiology of high-risk behaviour among adolescents, particularly related to sexual behaviour and substance abuse, and on public mental health in the South African context, that the late Professor Alan Flisher, former Sue Struengmann Professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Mental Health, received this award.  Read full profile.


Haroon Bhorat and Murray Leibbrandt: analysing poverty and inequality

March 2015

Professor Murray Leibbrandt, DST/NRF SARChI Chair in Poverty and Inequality, and Professor Haroon Bhorat, director of the Development Policy Research Unit and DST/NRF SARChI Chair in Economic Growth, were awarded the Alan Pifer Research Award for their work conducting international quality analysis of survey data to better understand the relationship between the labour market and the reproduction of poverty and inequality in South Africa. Read full profile.


Nicoli Nattrass and Jeremy Seekings: unemployment and public policy

March 2015

South Africa has always been a country of insiders and outsiders, and today one of the biggest fault lines in society is between the employed and the unemployed. For Nicoli Nattrass, professor of economics in the Centre for Social Science Research (CSSR) and her husband, Jeremy Seekings, professor of political studies and sociology and director of the CSSR, the burning question remains: how does government policy shape this divide, and who 'wins' who 'loses' in South Africa. Read full profile.


Lionel Opie: UCT congratulates Opie on NRF Lifetime Achievement Award

12 September 2014

The University of Cape Town congratulates Emeritus Professor Lionel Opie of the UCT Hatter Institute of Cardiology Research, on receiving a National Research Foundation (NRF) Lifetime Achievement Award on Thursday evening, 11 September 2014. Read full profile.


Genevieve Langdon: blowing things up to make society safer

5 September 2014

Genevieve Langdon blows things up for a living – to make society a safer place. For this work, she recently received a silver medal from the Southern African Association for the Advancement of Science (S2A3) – one of the highest awards in South Africa for original scientific research. Read full profile.


Keertan Dheda: wins prestigious fellowship

5 June 2014

The 2014 Oppenheimer Fellowship has been awarded to Keertan Dheda, making him the fourteenth recipient since the award's inception and the sixth awardee from UCT. Read full profile.