(Left to right) Dr Bernie Fanaroff with Naledi Pandor, and Dr Phil Mjwara. Picture: Antoine de Ras

CAPE TOWN - Parliament's science and technology portfolio committee has congratulated Dr Bernie Fanaroff on being awarded the 2018 lifetime achievement award by the National Research Foundation (NRF).

This accolade is awarded to individuals considered to have made extraordinary contributions of international standard and impact to the development of science in South Africa over an extended period of time, and for the manner in which their work has touched and shaped the lives and views of many South Africans, committee chairwoman Lindiwe Maseko said in a statement.

"Dr Fanaroff, for his part, is one of those rare individuals who has dedicated his life and has made significant contributions to science in the sphere of astronomy, where together with British astronomer Julia Riley they made a breakthrough in the classification of radio galaxies and quasars when they identified two classes of radio sources which now bear their names – Fanaroff-Riley class 1 (FR1) and Fanaroff-Riley class 11 (FR2) - sources as they are now universally known. He successfully managed the bid to host the world’s largest scientific project - the Square Kilometre Array Telescope (SKA) - and led the conceptualisation, development, and construction of its precursor the MeerKat, Maseko said.

Fanaroff’s commitment to social justice saw him dedicate 19 years to the struggle against apartheid as an organiser and national secretary for the Metal and  Allied Workers' Union, which became the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa. 

In 1994, Fanaroff was deputy director general in the office of former president Nelson Mandela, and was head of office for the reconstruction and development programme. He was a founding member of the Academy of Science of South Africa and a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society, and is a visiting professor at Oxford University, she said.

“We are proud of Dr Fanaroff and people of his calibre are rare indeed. It is not often that we have a man who contributes to science, social activism, and the public service, and he has lived up to the expectations and slogan of the NRF – advancing science for social benefit," Maseko said.

African News Agency (ANA)