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Postdoctoral fellows

Johann Diener

Johann Diener: meet the number one patron at Hot Rock Café

15 July 2016

Senior lecturer in geology at UCT Dr Johann Diener has won a Claude Leon Merit Award for his novel idea: how melting rocks and boiling water might be more similar than we think. Read full profile

David Ikumi

David Ikumi: finding solutions to Africa's water crisis

30 June 2016

Ikumi's research focuses on the mathematical modelling of wastewater treatment systems. His work, which he carried through from his postgraduate research, seeks to contribute solutions to averting the current water crisis in Africa. Read full profile

Sudesh Sivarasu

Fleur Howells: working to understand psychotic disorders

30 June 2016

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 psychiatric disorders. Read full profile

Sudesh Sivarasu

Sudesh Sivarasu: natural curiosity drives biomedical innovator

16 May 2016

Serving humanity is key to his work designing biomedical devices, says Claude Leon Merit awardee and biomedical engineer Dr Sudesh Sivarasu. Read full profile

Amir Patel

Amir Patel: cheetah’s tail a blueprint for manoeuvrability in robots

16 May 2016

Claude Leon Merit awardee Dr Amir Patel designs agile robots by studying quadrupeds whose manoeuvrability gives them the edge, particularly speedsters like the cheetah. Read full profile

Tana Joseph​: opening the doors of science

4 April 2016

When Dr Tana Joseph was young, she had a big dream – to become an astronomer. Today she’s the first woman of colour to be awarded a postdoctoral SKA fellowship, and she is committed to opening the doors of science to others who might wish to follow in her footsteps. Read full profile

Dr Katye Altieri

Katye Altieri​: crossing oceans and disciplinary borders

14 January 2016

When Dr Katye Altieri set out in her postdoctoral research to understand the effects of air pollution on oceans, nobody anticipated the results. A recent paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) highlighted how little researchers actually understand about the complex relationship between the oceans and the atmosphere. And it’s proven an emphatic justification of the interdisciplinary road this newly P-rated researcher has taken from the start of her career. Read full profile

Onowunmi Isafiade

Onowunmi Isafiade: mining crime data to help create safer, smarter cities

29 January 2015

Can information and communication technology improve citizens' well-being? Computer scientist and UCT doctoral fellow Omowunmi Isafiade was recently selected as one of eight sub-Saharan L'Oreal UNESCO Women in Science fellows for her work in developing a situation-recognition system to increase public safety. Read full profile

Dr Rebecca Tadokera

Rebecca Tadokera: TB treatment response - searching for biomarkers in urine

August 2015

Despite intensive research efforts in recent years, TB remains a major public health problem worldwide. South Africa has one of the highest rates of TB in the world. The current six-month directly observed TB treatment has no way of assessing whether or not patients are responding to treatment. It is for these reasons that Dr Rebecca Tadokera (from the Institute of Infectious Disease and Molecular Medicine) decided to focus her research on the potential role of urinary lipids (fat molecules in urine) in assessing whether or not TB patients are responding to treatment. 

Doctor Alexandra Müller

Alexandra Müller: facing homophobia in health care

August 2015

Dr Alexandra Müller (of the Human Rights Division of the Faculty of Health Sciences) is a qualified physician and holds a PhD equivalent in medical psychology and medical sociology. Her current research explores the experiences of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in the South African healthcare system. She found that, even though the South African constitution guarantees LGBT people protection from discrimination, many received suboptimal health care and recounted experiences of homophobia and discrimination from nurses and doctors. 


Doctor Sheena Shah

Sheena Shah: N|uu language documentation and revitalisation

August 2015

With only three known remaining speakers, all in their eighties, N|uu is the most endangered still-spoken language of Southern Africa. N|uu is the last related language to the extinct |Xam language, which features prominently on the South African coat of arms. Dr Sheena Shah, director of the N|uu Language Project (at the Centre for African Language Diversity, Linguistics Section), works to collect and compile N|uu language data from previous and ongoing linguistic research. The team also supports efforts to revitalise N|uu in the community.

Doctor Memory Biwa

Memory Biwa: afterlives of genocide in Namibia

August 2015

In the years 1903 to 1908, Namibia, then the German colony of South-West Africa, witnessed a war in the central and southern parts of the country that resulted in a genocide carried out by the German government, widely considered to be the first genocide of the 20th century. The research of Dr Memory Biwa (from the Department of Social Anthropology, Archives and Public Culture Research Initiative) looks at the discourses of memory around this history of colonialism, war and genocide in southern Namibia. Her research focus is on the case of the bodies exported to Germany during the war and the repatriation processes of those bodies between 2011 and 2014. 

Doctor Emma Rocke

Emma Rocke: understanding the effects of climate change on the marine microbial food web

August 2015

Dr Emma Rocke (of the Department of Biological Sciences) grew up in the Canadian countryside, surrounded by pristine lakes and natural beauty. During her own lifetime, however, she has witnessed the deterioration of the quality of these lakes due to a process called eutrophication, which is when a high level of nutrients enters the water system (often due to fertilisers used in nearby farming), causing excessive algae. This prompted her to dedicate her research to this process of eutrophication and its effect on ecosystems. 


Doctor Issufo Halo

Issufo Halo: modelling oceans for climate systems

August 2015

Understanding the ocean systems is key to our understanding of the global climate. The ocean plays an important role in capturing carbon releases from the burning of fossil fuels, but we are also witnessing a rise in the sea levels as a result of climate change. Dr Issufo Halo (of the Department of Oceanography, Nansen-Tutu Centre for Marine Environmental Research) is using numerical ocean models to simulate the state of the ocean. 

Doctor Patricia Doyle

Patricia Doyle: investigating the birth of our solar system

August 2015

The universe is filled with patterns, from the electronic transitions of the atomic clock that help us to schedule our day to the layering of majestic cliffs of Table Mountain. But within those patterns lie valuable insights into the makeup of our world and even our universe. Dr Patricia Doyle (of the Department of Geological Sciences) uses special analytical techniques to study the chemical components of rocks and minerals. This offers insights into early solar system processes.

Doctor Marcel Tongo Passo

Marcel Tongo Passo: the origins and evolution of HIV

August 2015

Globally, an estimated 35 million people are living with HIV/Aids and about 39 million have died from the virus. Yet little is known about he early history of the HIV pandemic. Dr Marcel Tongo Passo (of the Division of Immunology) is looking at the origins and spread of the different branches of the HIV-1M clades (which are responsible for the global epidemic) to better understand how, where and when key events during the early stages of teh HIV epidemic took place. Passo says he became interested in HIV-1M evolution during his PhD.

Doctor Nashied Peton

Nashied Peton: understanding the role of vitamin D and the drug Phenylbutyrate (PBA) in combating TB and HIV

August 2015

Numerous studies have reported that TB is associated with a vitamin D deficiency, and even more so when co-infected with HIV. the exact mechanism by which vitamin D may help prevent TB and HIV progression remains controversial. Recent studies have also shown that the drug 4-Phenylbutyrate (PBA) enhances the immune system's response to controlling the TB infection. Dr Nashied Peton (from the Institute of Infectious Disease and Molecular Medicine) is therefore investigating the combined use of vitamin D and the drug PBA as adjunctive therapy, to see if they are effective against both the TB and HIV pathogens.