Top Stellenbosch University academic Professor Dave Richardson has won a prestigious Swiss science prize.

Richardson, a deputy director of the Centre of Excellence for Invasion Biology at the University of Stellenbosch is the first scientist from Africa to receive the R500 000 prize money for his research of invasion biology.

The award reflected a growing world focus on the influence of invasive species on natural biodiversity and was an acknowledgement of invasion biology as a field of study, said Richardson.

It is the first time that the Hans Sigrist Prize has been awarded in the field of ecology, says the university.

South Africa has produced some of the most respected specialists in the field of invasion biology in the past 20 years.

Richardson focuses on invasion ecology, managing the dynamics of invasive species, and the reasons why certain species are more aggressive invaders than others.

He also has a keen interest in the impact of invasive plants on riparian areas (river banks), and how this can be managed.

The Hans Sigrist Prize of 100 000 Swiss francs (over R567 000) is awarded for excellent work in a sector of science determined annually by the council of the Hans Sigrist Foundation. The internationally based nomination procedure provides for the required high scientific standard of the prize winners.

The prizegiving ceremony will be held at the University of Bern in Switzerland on December 1.

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