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UKZN academics scoop three awards at SA’s ‘science Oscars’

The UKZN academics stand together with their trophies they received at the awards.

University of KwaZulu-Natal academics, Mark Horan, Professor Onisimo Mutanga, and Professor Andrew Green celebrating with awards received at the NSTF-South32 Awards event held at the Westin in Cape Town recently. Horan received the award on behalf of Professor Jeff Smithers, who is the director of the Centre for Water Resources Research. Picture: Supplied.

Published Jul 16, 2023


Durban - The University of KwaZulu-Natal’s (UKZN) College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science won three of the acclaimed National Science and Technology Forum (NSTF)-South32 Awards for the 2022-2023 cycle.

The (NSTF)-South32 Awards – dubbed the “Science Oscars of South Africa” were presented at a ceremony held concurrently in Johannesburg and Cape Town on Friday.

According to its website, the NSTF awards honour and celebrate outstanding contributions to science, engineering and technology (SET) and innovation. The awards encourage and reward excellence in scientific research, engineering research and capacity, water solutions, the green economy, innovations and ocean science among other categories.

The university said in a statement that the three awardees from the School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences are Professor Onisimo Mutanga, Professor Andrew Green and the Centre for Water Resources Research (CWRR) which is headed by Professor Jeff Smithers.

Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor and head of the College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science, Professor Fhatuwani Mudau said: “We congratulate this outstanding achievement by our academics, which places UKZN at the forefront of cutting-edge and socially relevant SET research and capacity development within South Africa.”

Mutanga won one of the two engineering research capacity development awards sponsored by Eskom.

UKZN said Mutanga is the DSI/NRF/Nedbank SARChI chair in Land Use Planning and Management and Professor of Remote Sensing at UKZN. He integrates ecology, biodiversity conservation and remote sensing to model the impact of forest fragmentation, pests and diseases and invasive species on agricultural and natural ecosystems.

“He was recognised for developing research capacity through the use of remote sensing techniques to support land use management focusing on the development of the science and the application of these techniques for terrestrial ecosystems.”

The university said the Centre for Water Resources Research under the directorship of Smithers, who holds the Umgeni Water chair in Water Resources Management, Innovation and Research at UKZN, won the NSTF water research commission Award.

“The centre received recognition for providing a centre of excellence for cutting edge applied and interdisciplinary research and postgraduate training in water resources-related research and capacity building.”

Professor Andrew Green, a Professor of Marine Geology at UKZN and Visiting Professor at the University of Ulster, Northern Ireland, won the special annual theme award: Ocean Science for Sustainable Development.

“He was recognised for excellence in marine geoscience research, which forms the key to unlocking the blue economies of the world’s oceans and protecting our coastlines from the effects of climate change.

“His research interests focus on marine geophysics, geomorphology, sedimentology and stratigraphy of coastal and marine environments,” said the university.