UWC children’s rights expert Professor Julia Sloth-Nielsen has been recognised as an international leader in her research field. Picture: supplied
UWC children’s rights expert Professor Julia Sloth-Nielsen has been recognised as an international leader in her research field. Picture: supplied

Professor Julia Sloth-Nielsen UWC’s first A-rated female researcher

By ANA Reporter Time of article published Jan 18, 2021

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Cape Town – The University of Western Cape’s (UWC) children’s rights expert, Professor Julia Sloth-Nielsen, has been granted an A-rating from the National Research Foundation (NRF), making her the university’s first A-rated female researcher.

The A-rating is granted to leading international researchers who are recognised as leaders in their field for the high quality and impact of their recent research.

Nielsen is professor of law at UWC and the chairperson of Children’s Rights in the Developing World at the Child Law Department at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands.

She arrived at UWC in 1994, where her first role was to manage the Children’s Rights Project at the Community Law Centre, which she did until the 2000, when she formally joined the Faculty of Law, according to a statement by UWC.

Nielsen admitted it was not easy in the beginning, and she had had to push hard to get recognition.

“What makes me happiest about this award of an A-rating is that it serves as an international recognition of my status in the field and is the culmination of a lifetime's work in the 25 years that I have been at UWC,” Nielsen said.

“It is most gratifying and I am extremely proud to have reached this height,” she said.

"What makes her achievement even more significant is that the rating is in the discipline of law, thus broadening our internationally recognised expertise at the university outside of the science field in which we currently have six A-rated researchers", said Professor José Frantz, deputy vice-chancellor of Research and Innovation at UWC.

Frantz said Nielsen’s A-rating by the NRF was an honour and an achievement for the institution.

Nielsen is UWC’s second non-science A-rated researcher.

Professor Benyam Mezmur, who completed his Master’s and PhD with Sloth-Nielsen, said this recognition by the NRF for the “depth, breadth and quality of her work” was well deserved and overdue.

He described Nielsen as “a bit like an octopus with lots of highly effective tentacles”, involved in an array of projects locally and globally, and delivering work of impeccable quality and impact.

Mezmur also described her keen interest in her students, extending beyond their research needs to their well-being, as well as that of their families, as a rare quality in academia where it can often be very easy to neglect the “human element”.

Nielsen has extensive postgraduate supervision experience, with more than 70 students having graduated under her supervision, and has also lectured internationally in Belgium, Switzerland, China and the UK.

She was also a drafter of the South African Children’s Act and has contributed to child law reform in many southern and East African countries, such as Mozambique, Lesotho, Malawi and South Sudan.

Nielsen attributes her success to her no-nonsense approach to academia: “Work hard. Don’t make excuses. Make your own hay. No one is going to do it for you.”

African News Agency (ANA)

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