A wise person once said: “Research is creating new knowledge.” A statement that sums up rather nicely the fact that academic research is not the stereotypical domain of people in white lab coats or dusty academics hidden behind piles of old books. Academic research is essential to the development of every sector of society – from medicine to law, from business to technology – no subject can advance without research. Through research, new knowledge can be created and, more importantly, shared. Research benefits communities and economies – it is an essential ingredient of growth and development.
It’s exciting to note that South Africans are pulling their weight in contributing quality research to this ever-expanding global knowledge base. For example, in 2018, at an award ceremony at Unisa, Dr. S Jansen van Rensburg received the 2017 Young Female Doctoral Graduate Award for her research work in law. At the event, Unisa’s Vice -Chancellor Prof. Mandla Makhanya commented that South African universities, including Unisa, were influencing the interpretation of the political and academic dialogue of the present-day world.
A glimpse at last year’s National Research Foundation (NRF) Award winners shows just how South Africa’s finest researchers are ‘advancing knowledge, transforming lives and inspiring a nation.’
To name a few:
The NRF Lifetime Achievement Award was given to Dr. Bernard Fanaroff, Special Adviser and Former Director Square Kilometre Array South Africa (SKA-SA). Dr. Fanaroff was recognised for his scientific contribution; his role as an anti-apartheid activist and his contribution as a public servant and as the Director of SKA-SA where he led the bid for South Africa to host the design and construction of the Meerkat Telescope.
Prestigious awards were further given to upcoming researchers under the age of 35 deemed set to become future international leaders in their respective fields: Dr Sarah Fawcett, Department of Oceanography, University of Cape Town; Dr. Geoffrey Howarth, Department of Geological Sciences, University of Cape Town; Dr. Gareth Hempson, Ndlovu Node at the South African Environmental Observation Network, and Dr. Alistair Price, Department of Private Law, University of Cape Town. As guardians of African research, Sabinet will continue to drive the support of library processes and the access to reliable research for all.