Prof Fanelwa Ngece Ajayia

Professor Ajayi is a chemist with a PhD from the University of the Western Cape (2011). She specializes in the development of drug metabolism sensors (particularly HIV and TB), the synthesis of green method synthesized metallic nanomaterials, and the search to find biological applications. She has received grants from the NRF and Water Research Commission. She is a member of South African Chemical Institute (SACI), International Society of Electrochemistry (ISE), World Academy of Science, Engineering and Technology (WASET), and the South African Young Academy of Science (SAYAS). Ajayi has been a visiting professor at the University of Missouri and at the University of Cergy Pontoise (France). Professor Ajayi was named one of South Africa’s Inspiring Fifty Women in STEM for her work as a scientist and in the broader community (2018).

Dr Rachel Fanelwa Ajayi

University of the Western Cape

Prof Eric Andriantiana

Rhodes University

Prof Andriantiana is a mathematician with a PhD from the University of Stellenbosch (2013). His primary interest lies in graph theory. Prof Andriantiana has served as the Regional Coordinator for the Siyanqoba Olympiad Training Center (from 2018) and the South African Tertiary Mathematics Olympiad Centre (from 2014), both at Rhodes University. Andriantiana is currently the junior coordinator of the focus area Graph Theory in the DSI-NRF Centre of Excellence in Mathematical and Statistical Sciences (CoE-MaSS). He was a recipient of the Stephen Hawking Scholarship by the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (2009). Prof Andriantiana holds a C2 NRF rating.

Dr Foreman Bandama

After three years at Sol Plaatje University, Dr Foreman Bandama took a double appointment at the Field Museum of Natural History (75%) and the University of Illinois Chicago (25%) in August 2021. At the Field Museum, he joins the Negaunee Integrative Research Center as the Assistant Curator of African Anthropology where his role is to manage, organize exhibitions and conduct research on African collections housed in the museum. This is over and above conducting his own independent research. Within the museum context, an assistant curator is the equivalent of an associate professor. Starting in January 2022, Dr Bandama will teach one module per year, while supervising postgraduate students and contributing to the academic life of the Anthropology Department at UIC.


Foreman Bandama is an African Iron Age Archaeologist who specializes in pre-industrial ceramics, glass beads, archaeometallurgy, and heritage studies. His doctoral thesis from the University of Cape Town explored the history, innovation and technology of tin and bronze metallurgy in southern Africa. Dr Bandama’s work draws liberally from both African theory and his personal experiences a product of a rural crafting Tsonga family from Zimbabwe. Foreman is particularly interested in African innovations and achievements relating to complex societies and their interactions with the outside world. Among his long-term projects are understanding class and state formation at Great Zimbabwe and some of the key polities in southern Africa.

Dr Foreman Bandama

Previously: Sol Plaatje University

Currently: Field Museum of Natural History & University of Illinois, Chicago

Prof Alice Brink

Dr Alice Brink

University of the Free State

Prof Brink is an Inorganic Chemist with a PhD from the University of the Free State (2012). Her research focuses on developing systematic approaches to manipulate the foundational driving forces affecting chemical reactivity, biological and catalytic activity within drug and catalysis development, using structure-based elucidation. Brink’s work is funded by SASOL, NRF Thuthuka and the NRF-National Equipment Program (NEP).

She has a longstanding research collaboration with Zurich University (Switzerland) and Manchester University (UK), where the latter investigates the interoperability challenges found between chemical and macromolecular crystallography. She serves on the Editorial board of the journal, Crystallography Reviews and on the IUCr Committee on Data (CommDat). Prof Brink holds a Y1 rating from the NRF.

In 2019 she was nominated for the South African Women in Science Award in the Distinguished Young Woman Researcher category.

Dr Crispen Chinguno

Dr Crispen Chinguno is a sociologist who received his doctorate from the University of the Witwatersrand (2015). In the broader discipline, his research falls within the sociology of work, and he investigates trade unionism and social movements on South Africa’s platinum belt. Dr Chinguno won a major fellowship from the American Council of Learned Societies’ African Humanities Program, which ran concurrently with a Ford Foundation award. He appeared as an expert witness before the Farlan Commission of Enquiry into the Marikana events.

Dr Crispen Chinguno

Sol Plaatje University

Prof Lebo Gafane-Matemane

North-West University

Professor Lebo Gafane-Matemane obtained her PhD in Physiology from North-West University (NWU) in 2017. She is currently the sub-theme leader for Translational and Implementation Science at Hypertension in Africa Research Team, NWU.

Her research contributes to the generation of knowledge on factors associated with cardiovascular disease, which will ultimately be used to identify potential areas of intervention in the prevention and management of hypertension and its related morbidities. She is funded by the National Research Foundation and the South African Medical Research Council.

She is a board member of the Southern African Hypertension Society and Childhood Hypertension Consortium of South Africa, and a member of the South African National Committee of the International Union for Physiological Sciences. Prof Gafane-Matemane is a Fellow of the International Society of Hypertension, where she serves as Chair of the Training and Mentorship Committee. She further serves on the editorial boards of the Journal of Hypertension and the Journal of the American Heart Association.

Prof Deidré Chanté Geduld

Prof Deidré Geduld is an educationist and her doctoral degree was awarded by Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (2011). Her field is foundation phase education. She directs her research interests towards eco-pedagogy and how play may be used to teach ecological awareness and justice to children between the ages of 3 and 9.

Dr Deidre Geduld

Nelson Mandela University

Dr Julia Kathryn Giddy

University of Johannesburg

Dr Julia Giddy is a geographer with a PhD from Nelson Mandela University (2016). Her research focuses on ecotourism, adventure and nature-based tourism and the tourism-poverty nexus. Her work considers the platform economy and environmental sociology, specialising in human-environment interaction and tourism geographies. A co-founder of the University of Michigan’s Department of Geological Sciences Outreach Program for high school students (2008–2010), Giddy remains a champion for educating children on earth sciences as a future career. In 2020, Dr Giddy was awarded the Society for South African Geographer’s Centenary Award for Emerging Researchers to continue work on young South African engagement with nature-based tourism and National Parks. Dr Giddy holds a Y2 NRF rating.

Dr Elaine Govender-Optiz

Dr Elaine Govender-Opitz has a PhD in chemical engineering from the University of Cape Town (2015). Her specialist knowledge of mineral leaching technologies sits in an interdisciplinary space in bioprocess engineering and extends to investigating the impact of mining activities on the water-energy food nexus. Dr Govender-Opitz holds a Y rating from the NRF, and she participates in the EU Horizon 2020 BIORECOVER research project where her role is to model the kinetics and process flowsheets for the treatment of critical raw materials.

Dr Elaine Govender Optiz

University of Cape Town

Dr Sharief Hendricks

University of Cape Town

Dr Sharief Hendricks is an exercise scientist with a PhD from the University of Cape Town (2012). His research includes sports performance, injury prevention and athlete welfare from community sport to professional athletes. Hendricks was awarded the University of Cape Town College of Fellows Young Researcher Award (2019) and is a 2x finalist for the TW Kambule National Science and Technology Forum (NSTF) Award for South Africa’s top scientists (2020 and 2021). In 2019, he was one of the Mail and Guardian Top 200 Young South Africans. Hendricks is currently President-Elect of the South African Sports Medicine Association (2021), a Visiting Fellow at Leeds Beckett University and a Fellow of the European College of Sport Science. He is the Social Media Editor for European Journal of Sport Science and an Associate Editor for Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport and British Medical Journal Open Sport and Exercise Medicine. Hendricks serves on the NRF Health Sciences Specialist Rating Committee and holds a C2 NRF rating.

Dr Yaseera Ismail

Dr Yaseera Ismail is a physicist with a PhD from the University of KwaZulu-Natal (2015). Her research interest lies in developing quantum-enabled devices in the field of quantum communication. She is a recipient of three Technology Innovation Agency (TIA) Seed Fund Grants and held an NRF Thuthuka Grant (2019-2021). Dr Ismail initiated collaborations with research groups in China, Russia and India, which led to a successful Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) Joint Multi-lateral Science and Technology Research Grant (2021–2023). She received the 2016 TechWomen Emerging Leader Award and is a 2018 Optica (formerly Optical Society of America (OSA)) Ambassador. Ismail serves on the editorial board of the Scientific Reports Journal and is Optica’s Vice President on the International Commission for Optics. Dr Ismail holds a Y1 NRF rating.

University of Stellenbosch

Prof Liezille Jacobs

Rhodes University

Prof Liezille Jacobs is an academic psychologist with a PhD from the University of Stellenbosch (2010). Her research interests represent intersections between gender, class, race, identity, and sexuality, especially as it pertains to addiction. This includes, more recently, an interest in the blurred boundaries of social identities within cyberpsychology; investigating the relationship between humans and technology. Jacobs is a National Institute on Drug Abuse Award recipient and she served as the Chairperson of the National Department of Health’s Alcohol Guidelines. Prof Jacobs completed an Erasmus Mundus Research Fellowship in Epidemiology and Social Medicine at the University of Antwerp, Belgium in 2016 to 2017.

Prof Wilbert Kadye

Prof Wilbert Kadye has a PhD in ichthyology from Rhodes University (2012). His research interest is in the fundamental and applied aspects of freshwater ichthyology and ecology. He aims to establish a laboratory that will consolidate robust research in the field of freshwater ecology. Prof Kadye serves on the British Ecological Society Review College and is a member of the Southern African Society for Aquatic Science. Kadye’s work has received funding from the British Ecological Society and the Sandisa Imbewu Research Grant. He holds a Y2 NRF rating.

Rhodes University

Prof Ashwil Johan Klein

University of the Western Cape

Prof Ashwil Klein is a biotechnologist with a PhD from the University of the Western Cape (2013). His primary research focuses on the role of small signalling molecules on plant-stress interactions. He uses high throughput technologies to identify key genetic determinants to enhance crop productivity under interactive abiotic and biotic stress conditions. Prof Klein serves as head of the National Agricultural Proteomics Research and Service Unit (NAPRSU) and has supervised more than 40 postgraduate students. He is a visiting Professor at the University of the Missouri with an active collaboration with Prof Walter Gassmann from the Interdisciplinary Plant Group (IPG). His primary and collaborative research projects are funded by NRF, GrainSA and HortGro. Prof Klein holds a Y2 NRF rating.

Dr Maddison Lasich

Dr Madison Lasich is a chemical engineer with a PhD from the University of KwaZulu-Natal (2015). Their primary research interest is in computational materials science, focusing on separation processes such as developing new calculation methods for clathrate hydrate phase equilibria and investigating the use of old materials for new purposes. They are a member of the South African Institution of Chemical Engineers. Dr Lasich has held a NRF Knowledge, Interchange and Collaboration Grant (2018). They are Y2 rated by the NRF.

Mangosuthu University of Technology

Prof Antonio George Lentoor

Dr Antonio G Lentoor

Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University

Prof Antonio Lentoor is a clinical psychologist with a PhD from the University of KwaZulu Natal (2016). His research focus is in neurocognition, addressing the intersection of neuro-vulnerability with communicable and non-communicable diseases (CaNCDs). Prof Lentoor is interested in the development of a comprehensive understanding of key neuro, psychological and social pathways associated with CaNCDs in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC). He holds a Royal College of Psychiatrists SA-ACAPAP Emerging Scholar award and the Biological Psychiatry Early and Midcareer Research Development Award (2020) for his research on neurocognition and cancer.

Prof Victoria Madden

Professor Tory Madden is a clinical physiotherapist with a PhD from the University of South Australia (2016), for which she was awarded the Ian Davey Best Research Thesis Prize (2017). Prof Madden draws on neuroscience, psychology, and physiology to explore the mechanisms by which pain persists after bodily tissues have healed. She intends for her research to provide a foundation for new strategies to prevent and treat persistent pain.

She established the University of Cape Town’s first experimental pain laboratory, where human volunteers are tested in procedures that mimic clinical pain, as a means to understand how persistent pain occurs. In 2019 she was awarded an Emerging Global Leader (K43) Career Development Award from the US National Institutes of Health (NIH). She is also the director of the African Pain Research Initiative at the University of Cape Town.

Her work has also garnered funding from the International Association for the Study of Pain (2016) and the NRF (2018). Prof Madden holds a Y2 NRF rating.

University of Cape Town

Prof Lawrence Mzukisi Madikizela

Dr Lawrence Madikizela

Institute for Nanotechnology and Water Sustainability, College of Science, Engineering and Technology, University of South Africa

Prof Lawrence Madikizela is an associate professor of analytical and environmental research at UNISA, where he also holds a portfolio of being the thematic area leader for his research focus area (Analytical and Environmental Research). He graduated with a PhD in Chemistry from the University of Witwatersrand in 2017. Professor Lawrence Madikizela is an NRF Y-rated researcher whose work is unique in South Africa with its major focus on the environmental monitoring of pharmaceuticals, pioneering sample preparation procedures, monitoring and remediation studies. He further researches the uptake of organics by plants as well as identification and quantitation of pharmaceuticals in marine and coastal environment. His work has provided the baseline information on the identification and nature of environmental pollutants which is crucial for the development of policies to combat environmental pollution.

Prof Madikizela spent a year as a Visiting Researcher at the University of the Witwatersrand between 2020 and 2021, and over the course of his career, he has won the South African Chromatographer of the Year Award (2018); DUT’s Junior Researcher of the Year Award (2018); SACI Merck Medal (2019), SACI Raikes Medal (2022) and NRF Research Excellence Award for Early Career/Emerging Researchers (2023). His other recognitions include his inclusion in The Top 40 Under 40 Power List (2022) published by the Analytical Scientist, and his nomination as a South African representative in the 13th HOPE Meeting held with Nobel Laureates in Japan on 07 – 11 March 2022.

Prof Madikizela is playing a vital role in the scientific community as he is currently serving as the National Chairperson for ChromSA which is a division of the South African Chemical Institute and serves as the Editor-in-Chief for South African Journal of Chemistry. His other editorial roles include being a Guest Editor for Frontiers in Environmental Science and Guest Editor for Molecules. He is also an Associate Editor for Frontiers in Environmental Science and an Editorial Board Member for Elsevier Journal: Forensic Science International – Animals and Environments.

He has occupied various roles in academia such as being a senior laboratory technician, lecturer, senior lecturer and now associate professor in different universities such as University of Fort Hare, Walter Sisulu University, Durban University of Technology, Mangosuthu University of Technology and University of South Africa.

Prof Lembe Magwaza

Prof Lembe Magwaza is a crop scientist with a PhD in horticultural sciences (University of KwaZulu-Natal, 2013). His major research interest lies in developing strategies to maximise the post-harvest shelf life of various food products. Professor Magwaza holds a Y rating from the NRF. He has also won an award for the best paper at the Institution of Agricultural Engineers conference (2017) and was listed among the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Top 10 Young Published Researchers (2018) and among that university’s Top 30 in 2019.

Dr Lembe Magwaza

University of KwaZulu-Natal

Prof Safia Mahomed

Dr Safia Mahomed

University of South Africa

Professor Safia Mahomed is an admitted attorney with a PhD from the University of the Witwatersrand (2018). Her research interests cluster around questions regarding health law and bioethics. A material transfer agreement developed by Prof Mahomed as an outcome of her PhD, dealing with the ethical and legal interests of research participants and researchers, was adapted by the National Department of Health and gazetted into legislation in 2018. This resulted in Safia being awarded the Principal’s prize for excellence in research in 2019. Her current research trajectory involves an examination of the ethical, social and legal considerations for artificial intelligence in healthcare.

Prof Faheema Mahomed-Asmail

Prof Faheema Mahomed-Asmail is a dually qualified Speech-Language Pathologist and Audiologist and currently holds an Associate Professor position at the Department of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, University of Pretoria, South Africa.

Her research interest lies in providing access to person-centered ear and hearing health care through innovative solutions. In line with her field of interest, she has collaborated with institutions such as the IDA Institute, Denmark, Örebro University, Sweden, and the World Health Organization. She has published a number of articles ( on the topic in both international and nationally accredited, peer-reviewed journals. Her research has been supported by various funding bodies some of which include the Andrew Mellon Foundation and the National Research Foundation (NRF, South Africa).

She also serves as the chairperson of the Research and Education Committee of the South African Speech-Language-Hearing Association (SASLHA). Prof Mahomed-Asmail recently graduated from the Department of Higher Education and Training Future Professors Programme (Cohort 2, South Africa) and currently holds an NRF Y1 rating.

University of South Africa

Dr Maya Melissa Makatini

Dr Maya Makatini

University of the Witwatersrand

Dr Maya Makatini has a PhD in pharmaceutical chemistry from the University of KwaZulu-Natal (2011). She is interested in the therapeutic properties of peptides and investigates the design and synthesis of peptidomimetics and organic molecules that could assist in wound healing, as well as animal, plant and human diseases, diagnostics and biocatalytics. She has won NRF Thuthuka funding, as well as a Medical Research Council Self-Initiated Grant.

Dr Katlego Makgopa

Dr Katlego Makgopa is a chemist with a PhD from the University of Pretoria (2016). His primary research focus entails the electrochemistry of nanostructured materials and their potential applications as electro-catalysts for energy and wastewater treatment. Dr Makgopa holds NRF funding programmes: Thuthuka grant, RSA/ China Bilateral, and National Equipment Programme (NEP). He is a member of the South African Chemical Institute (SACI), International Society of Electrochemistry (ISE), and South African Council for Natural Scientific Professions (SACNASP). He serves as deputy director of Centre for Applied Chemistry Research (CACRe), Department of Chemistry, Tshwane University of Technology, and deputy secretary of the South African Nanotechnology Initiative (SANi).

Dr Katlego Makgopa

Tshwane University of Technology

Prof Tsephiso Jan Makhafola

Dr Tshepiso Makhafola

University of Limpopo

Professor Makhafola is a biochemist with a PhD from the University of Pretoria (2015). He is the Assistant Dean for Research, Innovation and Engagements and the Director of the Centre for Quality of Health and Living in the Faculty of Health and Environmental Sciences at the Central University of Technology; Free State. His research focuses on genotoxicity in particular on the use of natural products for prevention of mycotoxin-induced genotoxicity and carcinogenicity – one of the under-reported health issues facing developing countries. He holds a Y rating from the NRF, and he is the recipient of the NRF-BELSPO award and the NRF-FRF award. He is a member of the Toxicology Association of South Africa (TOXSA) and South African Association of Botanists (SAAB). He is appointed as an extraordinary lecturer at the University of Pretoria’s Pan African Cancer Research Institute (PACRI).

Prof Tshifhiwa Gift Mandiwana-Neudani

Professor Tshifhiwa Mandiwana-Neudani has a PhD in zoology from the University of Cape Town (2014) with special interest in Biological systematics. Her research has a strong focus on the evolution of birds with investigations that span taxonomy, evolutionary relationships, patterns of distribution of taxa and genealogical lineages in space and time. Her research is currently funded through the CNRS-NRF International Research Programme. She is an Editorial Board member for Nature Portfolio’s Scientific Reports. She is the Secretary of the Southern African Society for Systematic Biology (SASSB) and a member of the DSI Foundational Biodiversity Information Programme (FBIP). She chairs the UL’s Faculty of Science and Agriculture Higher Degrees Committee.

Dr Tshifhiwa Mandiwana Neudani

University of Limpopo

Dr Tongai Maponga

Stellenbosch University

Dr Tongai Maponga is currently a Senior Medical Scientist and Researcher in the Division of Medical Virology at University of Stellenbosch and the National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS). He holds a PhD from the University of Stellenbosch (2016).

He has interests in virology and immunology, with a focus on epidemiology, molecular characterization, and pathogenesis of hepatitis viruses. Tongai has been recognized with prestigious fellowships, including the Africa-Oxford (AfOx) Initiative Visiting Scholar Fellowship in 2018.

Dr Maponga’s current research is supported by grants from institutions such as the AfOx Initiative through a Research Development Award, the Poliomyelitis Research Foundation, National Research Foundation, and the University of California San Diego Center for AIDS Research (UCSD-CFAR).

Prof Vukosi Ntsakisi Marivate

Prof Vukosi Marivate is an Associate Professor of Computer Science and holds the ABSA UP Chair of Data Science at the University of Pretoria. He specialises in developing Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) methods to extract insights from data, with a particular focus on the intersection of ML/AI and Natural Language Processing (NLP).

His research is dedicated to improving the methods, tools and availability of data for local or low-resource languages. As the leader of the Data Science for Social Impact research group ( in the Computer Science department, Vukosi is interested in using data science to solve social challenges. He has worked on projects related to science, energy, public safety, and utilities, among others.

Prof Marivate is a co-founder of Lelapa AI (, an African startup focused on AI for Africans by Africans. Vukosi is co-founder and advisor to Masakhane NLP project (, which aims to develop NLP technologies for African languages. Vukosi is also a co-founder of the Deep Learning Indaba, the leading grassroots Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence conference on the African continent that aims to empower and support African researchers and practitioners in the field.

Dr Vukosi Marivate

University of Pretoria

Prof Philani Nkosinathi Mashazi

Dr Philani Mashazi

Rhodes University

Prof Philani Nkosinathi Mashazi’s field is inorganic and analytical chemistry. He attained his PhD from Rhodes University (2012). His research focuses on designing and developing nanobiosensors and he is especially interested in designing diagnostic systems for disease and virus outbreaks or infections. Prof Mashazi holds a Y rating, and his research has been funded by the NRF’s Thuthuka programme, a South Africa-Sweden Bilateral Collaboration and the South African Medical Research Council.

Dr Lesedi Masisi

Dr Lesedi Masisi received the B.S. and M.S. degree from Witwatersrand University, Johannesburg, South Africa in 2007 and 2008 respectively. He completed his Ph.D. degree in electrical engineering at the university of Concordia in Montreal, Canada, in 2015. From 2009 to 2010 he was an application engineer, then a senior researcher from 2015 to April 2017 at the council for scientific and industrial research.

He is currently a senior lecturer at the University of the Witwatersrand since May 2017. He is currently the curriculum chair of the school of electrical and information engineering. He was member of senate from 2018 to 2022. He is a senior member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) and the South African Institute of Electrical Engineers (SAIEE).

Dr Masisi is a section editor of the Africa Research Journal (ARJ). His research work is in the field of rotating electric machines, drives, power electronics, electrification of transportation and energy management. He holds a Y1 NRF rating since 2021.

University of the Witwatersrand

Prof Mikateko Mathebula

University of the Witwatersrand

Prof Mikateko Mathebula is an Associate Professor at the Centre for Development Support, University of the Free State. Her work examines through a capabilities lens and storytelling methodologies, the relationship between processes of higher education, development and human flourishing in South Africa, with a focus on youth from low-income households and/or rural areas.

Recent projects include: the SRHE-funded photovoice scoping study on pursuing higher education in contexts of socio-spatial exclusion, working with youth from an upgraded informal settlement in the Free State; a GCRF/UKRI-funded study with student activists where digital storytelling and participatory video were used to capture students’ aspirations for universities as sustainable communities; an NRF/Thuthuka-funded project that investigates the transformation of rural communities, by exploring, describing, and documenting through narratives, the post university life trajectories of youth from rural communities in the Eastern Cape and Limpopo provinces.

She holds an NRF Y2 rating.

Dr Johannes Zanoxolo Mbese

Dr Mbese is a chemist with a PhD from the University of Fort Hare (2017). His research interests are in the synthesis of metal sulfide nanoparticles/nanocomposites, metal oxides, carbon quantum dots and carbon nanotubes for applications in nanotechnology, chemical sensing, water treatment and renewable energy. His work is supported by an NRF Thuthuka Grant (2019–2021) and an Institutional Research Grant from the Govan Mbeki Research and Development Centre (GMRDC) (2014-2020). Dr Mbese currently serves as Research Group Leader & Founder of the Energy, Materials and Inorganic Chemistry Research Group (EMICREG).

University of Fort Hare

Prof Pontsho Sylvia Mbule

University of South Africa

Prof Mbule is a physicist with a PhD from the University of the Free State (2013). Her research focuses on synthesis and characterization of metal oxide nanostructures and the development of transparent conducting electrodes (TCEs) for application in solar cells. Her work is supported by DST-NRF Research Development Grants for New Generation of Academics Programme (nGAP) and Incentive Funding for Rated Researchers. Prof Mbule is a fellow of the World Academy of Sciences for the Advancement of Science in Developing Countries (TWAS), and the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) for scientists from Sub-Saharan Africa. She is also a Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings’ Alumna (2019). She’s a member of the Microscopy Society of Southern Africa (MSSA), The Organization for Women in Science for the Developing World (OWSD) and she hold a professional Physicist membership (Pr.Phys) from the South African Institute of Physics (SAIP). Dr Mbule holds a Y2 NRF rating.

Prof Mokgaotsa Jonas Mochane

Prof Mochane is a polymer chemist with a PhD in polymer science from the University of the Free State (2015). His research focuses on natural fibre hybrid composites for advanced applications, using biopolymer-based composites to replace conventional fuel-based polymers. Prof Mochane is a recipient of NRF Incentive Funding for Rated Researchers (2020–2025), research development grants for Y-rated researchers (2021-2023) and the Central University of Technology DHET Grant, Mid-Career Researcher Award (2019). He holds a Y2 NRF rating.

Central University of Technology

Dr Khumisho Moguerane

Previously: University of Johannesburg

Dr Moguerane is an historian of the British Empire, with a doctorate from Oxford (2014). Her research focuses on Tswana-speaking African elites in South Africa between the 1880s and 1950s, demonstrating how generations of one family negotiated colonialism and early phases of African and Afrikaner nationalism. Dr Mogeurane held a ORISHA scholarship at Oxford, an Oppenheimer scholarship, and was a Beit scholar.

Dr Candice Moore

Dr Candice Moore is a political scientist with a PhD in International Relations from the London School of Economics and Political Science (2012). Her primary interests are in the development of International Relations theory from the Global South, South Africa’s foreign policy, as well as the foreign policy of Brazil. She was a South African delegation member to the BRICS Academic Forum in Durban (2013) and Rio de Janeiro (2014). She represented the South African BRICS Think Tank Forum in Beijing (2014). Dr Moore has served as Editor-in-Chief of African Security Review (2017–2019) and is currently co-editor of African Studies (2023-2028).

University of the Witwatersrand

Prof Melanie Murcott

University of Cape Town

Prof Murcott is a legal scholar with an LLD from North-West University (2020). She is an Associate Professor in the Institute of Marine and Environmental Law of the Department of Public Law, University of Cape Town. She is enrolled as a practising attorney of the High Court of South Africa, and non-practising solicitor in England and Wales. Her research focuses on potential of environmental and administrative law to achieve societal transformation and justice in South Africa and beyond, particularly in response to the climate crisis. Her research led to the development of a novel legal theory: transformative environmental constitutionalism, discussed in her monologue published by Brill in 2022, with the same name. Prof Murcott’s scholarship has been cited in several judgments of the South African courts, including the Constitutional Court.

Prof Lindelani Fhumudzani Mushaphi

Prof Mushaphi has a PhD in human nutrition from the University of the Free State (2012). She is interested in child nutrition and malnourished children and she has developed a nutrition education programme aimed at encouraging the use of indigenous and locally available food as a means of addressing malnutrition. Prof Mushaphi has won a DST Women in Science award. She is the deputy dean of teaching and learning in the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Venda since 2022. Prof. Mushaphi is a registered dietitian with HPCSA. She is a member of the Nutrition Society in South Africa.

Dr Lindelani Musaphi

University of Venda

Dr Navindhra Naidoo

Dr Navindrah Naidoo

Previously: Cape Peninsula University of Technology

Currently: Western Sydney University

Dr Navindrah Naidoo holds a PhD from the University of Cape Town (2017) and works in the field of emergency medicine and public health. His current research focuses on gender-based violence intervention, and it spans both the health and human sciences. In addition to his academic work, Dr Naidoo has served as a consultant to the Centre for Rural Health working on issues of triage and acute care in HIV. Naidoo is a social justice advocate. He is an adjunct fellow of the Western Sydney University and an Associate Member of the Centre for Legitimation Code Theory, University of Sydney.

Dr Jabulani Ncayiyana

Dr Jabulani Ncayiyana is an epidemiologist with a PhD from the University of North Carolina (2015). His current research projects investigate the spatial epidemiology of lung health in children and vitamin D deficiency and childhood tuberculosis in the Western Cape. His research is funded by a Thuthuka grant from NRF, as well as a SIR grant from the South African Medical Research Council.

Dr Jabulani Ncayiyana

University of KwaZulu Natal

Dr Mduduzi Ndlovu

Dr Mduduzi Ndlovu

University of Mpumalanga

Dr Mduduzi Ndlovu is a zoologist with a PhD from the University of Cape Town (2012). His major interest is in biodiversity conservation, and his research concentrates on animal ecology, epidemiology and spatial scaling. Dr Ndlovu holds a C2 NRF rating and is an associate editor of several regional and international journals. He is also a scientific advisor to the Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency.

Prof Lungiswa Leonora Nkonki

Prof Lungiswa Nkonki holds a PhD in health economics from the University of Bergen, Norway (2012). Her current research addresses questions of economic evaluation of healthcare interventions, measuring inequality in health outcomes, and more generally, the functionality of health systems. She served as a panel member on the Competition Commission of South Africa’s Private first Healthcare Market Inquiry. Prof Nkonki holds an NRF Y rating and is a member of the South African Young Academy of Science (SAYAS).

Dr Lungiswa Nkonki

Stellenbosch University

Prof Nontuthuko Rosemary Ntuli

Dr Nontuthuko Ntuli

University of Zululand

Prof Nontuthuko Ntuli is a botanist with a PhD from the University of Zululand (2014). Her research interests concentrate on genetics and potential domestication practices in a range of leafy vegetables and fruit tree species. Prof Ntuli situates these questions within the broader parameters of food security. Her research has been funded by the NRF Thuthuka award.

Dr Bubele Papy Numbi

With a PhD in electrical engineering from the University of Pretoria (2015), Dr Numbi’s research focuses on renewable energy, energy efficiency and management. He is particularly interested in utilizing optimization techniques to address energy problems in industrial sectors with heavy energy demands, such as mining. He holds a Y rating from the NRF and is registered with several professional engineering bodies.

Dr Bubele Numbi

Mangosuthu University of Technology

Prof Oliver Nyambi

Oliver Nyambi

University of the Free State

Prof Oliver Nyambi has a PhD in literary studies from the University of Stellenbosch (2013). His research focuses on crisis and humanitarian literatures from southern Africa. He holds a NRF Y1 rating, and has held a Duke Africa Initiative Fellowship at Duke University (2013), an African Humanities Program Fellowship from the American Council of Learned Societies (2017) and a Georg Forster Fellowship from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (2018).

Prof Gordon Craig O’Brien

Prof Gordon O’Brien is an aquatic ecologist with a PhD from the University of Johannesburg (2012). His primary research interest is in ecology, ecological risk and fisheries, mainly exploring water resource protection. He is the founder and director of Rivers of Life, a water resources research and environmental solutions program. Prof O’Brien serves as the African representative for the World Fish Migration Foundation and is appointed as a scientist to contribute to the sustainable management of river flows in multiple African countries. He holds a C2 NRF rating.

University of Mpumalanga

Dr Uhuru Phalafala

Stellenbosch University

Dr Uhuru Phalafala has a PhD in English literature from the University of Cape Town (2016). Her research interests include Cold War-era material cultures and archives, black internationalism, and African and diasporic intellectual traditions. She is a recipient of a NRF Thuthuka Grant and the Andrew Mellon ‘Unsettling Paradigms’ Grant (2020). Dr Phalafala co-edited Collected Poems: Keorapetse Kgositsile (1969-2018), to be published by the University of Nebraska’s African Poetry Book Fund. She is a fellow of the University of Michigan African Presidential Scholar Program, and the American Council of Learned Society’s African Humanities Program. Her forthcoming monograph, Keorapetse Kgositsile & the Black Arts Movement, reframes often unseen and unaccounted-for Black women as the bedrock of Black revolutionary thought and will be published by Boydell and Brewer (2021).

Dr Ellen Chenesai Rungani

Dr Ellen Chenesai Rungani has a PhD in business management from Northwest University (2018). Her research revolves around questions of entrepreneurship, finance, and management of small businesses. She also an expert in strategic planning development and review. In 2021 she was selected for the Future Professor Program through the Department of Higher Education South Africa (2021-2024) . She has held several academic leadership positions at the university of Fort Hare such as heading the Business management and being an acting deputy dean teaching and learning. She has also contributed in the setting up for the Gender based Violence Prevention Unit as the chairperson of the University of Fort Hare GBV task team.


Dr Rungani is also involved in the EDHE where she mentors student entrepreneurs . She has also been a visiting scholar at the university of East London in the United Kingdom where she collaborated with scholars in the field of finance and entrepreneurship. Her work has been recognised through the awarding of accolades such as VC excellence award in community engagement as well as the VC excellence award in Teaching in the eLearning category. Her work has also been recognised outside South Africa where she received the Senior Fellowship (SFHEA) in 2023 a designation provided by the United Kingdom Teaching and Learning Professional Standards.


Dr Rungani also received the TAU fellowship in 2024 through the Department of Higher Education South Africa and has received funding from EDHE for the Economic Activation Centre to support student entrepreneurship across disciplines.

Dr Ellen Rungani

University of Fort Hare

Prof Sandy-Lynn Steenhuisen

Dr Sandy Steenhuisen

University of the Free State

Prof Sandy-Lynn Steenhuisen is a plant ecologist with a PhD in ecological sciences from the University of Kwazulu-Natal (2012). She is interested in plant/animal interactions. Prof Steenhuisen has a Y1 rating from the NRF, she was a Claude Leon fellow and an NRF Research Career Advancement fellow.

Dr Margreth Tadie

Dr Margreth Tadie’s PhD is in the field of chemical engineering (University of Cape Town, 2015). Her research centres on the mining industry, where she investigates the chemical behaviour of complex minerals with a view to reducing waste and also addressing the environmental impact of mining. She has won funding for her research from the mining industry through the South African Mineral and Metals Research Institute (SAMMRI), and is one of thirty early-career African scholars selected for the first cohort of the Future Leaders – African Independent Researchers’ programme, funded by the United Kingdom government’s Grand Challenge Research Fund.

Dr Margreth Tadie

University of the Free State

Prof Sharhidd Taliep

Cape Peninsula University of Technology

Professor Sharhidd Taliep is an exercise scientist affiliated with the Department of Sport Management at Cape Peninsula University of Technology. With a keen focus on cricket research and sport development, Professor Taliep’s expertise spans across various niche areas, including visual perception, biomechanics, player development, and strength and conditioning.

Recognised for his scholarly contributions, Professor Taliep has been honoured with a SASUF research fund and held an Y2 NRF rating. Actively engaged in his professional domain, he holds notable roles such as serving on the Independent Scientific Advisory Committee to Cricket South Africa and the South African Football Association Cape Town Medical and Sports Science Committee.

Furthermore, Professor Taliep contributes as a consultant for talent development and elite athlete programs, emphasising performance enhancement and injury prevention.

Dr Thabsile Thabethe

Dr Thabethe is a physicist with a PhD from the University of Pretoria (2018). Her research focuses on the synthesis and characterisation of nuclear materials. Thabethe’s work is supported by the University of Pretoria’s Research Development Programme (2020), as well as several grants from the NRF (2014, 2017, 2018). Dr Thabethe has collaborations with the South African Nuclear Energy Corporation, the Institute of Radiation Problems in Azerbaijan, as well as Busitema University in Uganda. Thabethe’s work extends to the introduction of children to STEM. She is the author of children’s educational books (for STEM) and she has published five Mathematics and Science books for toddlers. Dr Thabethe holds a Y2 NRF rating.

University of Pretoria

Dr Christina Thobakgale

Dr Christina Thobakgale Tshabalala

University of the Witwatersrand

Dr Christina Thobakgale holds a PhD in immunology from the University of KwaZulu-Natal (2012) and her research focuses on cellular responses to HIV. Her work has influenced a shift in international HIV paediatric treatment guidelines. She holds a C rating from the NRF and is an alumna of the African Academy of Sciences (AAS) and South African Young Academy of Science (SAYAS). She currently serves on editorial boards of international immunology and virology journals. Dr Thobakgale has secured research funding from the Wellcome Trust, Dan and Marjorie Sullivan Foundation, the Medical Research Council, the NRF and recently holds a Senior Fellowship with the European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP).

Prof Anisa Vahed

Prof Anisa Vahed is an Associate Professor of Practice in Educational Development at the Academy of Future Education, Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University (XJTLU) in Suzhou, China. She holds several prestigious distinctions, including being a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, a Fulbright Fellow, an NRF Y2 Rated Researcher, a Future Professor Programme Scholar, and a Teaching Advancement at University (TAU) Fellow.

Before her current position, Prof. Vahed worked as a Dental Technology academic, practitioner, and researcher in the Dental Sciences department at the Durban University of Technology (DUT) in Durban, South Africa. She still maintains her connection with DUT as an Honorary Research Associate in the Department of Operations and Quality in the  Faculty of Management Sciences  at DUT.

Her research interests include virtual exchange programs to internationalize the curriculum, industry-based transdisciplinary projects to enhance students’ learning experiences, AI-enhanced teaching and learning, and promoting undergraduate research, scholarship, and creative inquiry. She has presented numerous papers, workshops, and seminars on her research interests in various national and international settings.

Previously: Durban University of Technology

Currently: Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University, Suzhou, China

Prof Brian van Soelen

University of the Free State

Prof Brian van Soelen is an astrophysicist with a PhD from the University of the Free State (2012). His primary research focuses on high energy gamma-ray sources, particularly gamma-ray binaries and active galactic nuclei, including how synergy can be formed between optical and gamma-ray observations. He is a member of the High Energy Stereoscopic System (HESS) Collaboration, the operating body for the world’s most sensitive high energy telescope. Prof van Soelen’s work is support by NRF Thuthuka funding, as well as the NRF Competitive Support for Unrated Researchers (2019–2020). He currently holds a Y1 NRF rating.

Dr Yandiswa Yako

Dr Yandiswa Yako is a medical scientist and a senior lecturer with a PhD from the University of Stellenbosch (2012). She has held NRF Postdoctoral Fellowships at the Pretoria National Zoological Gardens (2013-2014) and University of Witwatersrand (2014-2016). Her research interests focus on molecular mechanisms underlying the development of type 2 diabetes. She has been involved in various research projects on non-communicable and genetically inherited diseases, investigating their prevalence and underlying pathophysiology in South African populations. Dr Yako’s work is funded by the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC), as well as the NRF.

Walter Sisulu University

Dr Inam Yekwayo

Walter Sisulu University

Dr Inam Yekwayo is a conservation ecologist with a PhD from Stellenbosch University (2016). Her research focuses on the conservation of arthropods and their habitats. She is a recipient of the NRF Competitive Support Grant for Unrated Researchers (2019–2021). Dr Yekwayo was a research fellow of the Museum of Comparative Zoology, Center for African Studies, at Harvard University (2019).

Dr Rehana Malgas-Enus

Stellenbosch University

Our colleague, Dr Rehana Malgas-Enus (Department of Chemistry and Polymer Science at the University of Stellenbosch) passed away on Tuesday, 20 September 2022. At the time, Rehana was in Dresden, Germany, as an Eleanor Trefftz Fellow at TU Dresden with one of her graduate students. Part of the funding that made Dr Malgas-Enus’ teaching and research exchange possible, was provided by the DHET Future Professors Programme (FPP). Rehana was a wonderful and dedicated teacher, a committed scholar and an inspiring human being. She was also our dear friend and an irreplaceable and respected colleague to the fellows of the FPP. She will be sorely missed but not forgotten.


Dr Rehana Malgas-Enus was a chemist with a PhD from Stellenbosch University (2011). She was head of the RME-NANO research group in the Department of Chemistry & Polymer Science. The RME-Nano research group focusses on the design and engineering of organic and inorganic nanomaterials, tailored for a specific function, and this opens up a wide range of applications ranging from catalysis, to water treatment, to biomedical uses such as cancer, coagulated blood-clotting and non-resistant TB treatment. Her research has been supported by NRF Thuthuka, as well as the NRF CSUR Grant. Malgas-Enus served on the editorial board of Springer Nature Applied Sciences, and as a member of the executive of the Catalysis Society of South Africa (CATSA).

She was the founder and managing director of the Stellenbosch University Chemistry Outreach Initiative (SUNCOI), a program that enables high school learners from underprivileged schools to complete their practical chemistry experiments at the university’s fully equipped chemistry laboratory. Malgas-Enus won the NRF Excellence in Science Engagement Award in 2018.


All photo’s of fellows on this page are courtesy of Stellenbosch Centre for Photographic Services (SCPS).