Colleagues and former students of the University of Western Cape’s Professor Emmanuel Iwuoha took their hats off in honour of his National Research Foundation award for being a torch-bearer for young scientists.
Iwuoha was among the 68 winners across 10 categories who were celebrated at this week’s National Research Foundation award ceremony in Pretoria.
The ceremony, held in person and online, recognised the winner for both 2020 and 2021.
The award in the ‘Champion of Research Capacity Development and Transformation’ category acknowledges people for their contribution to the transformation of the science community and landscape.
Dr Samantha Douman, a former student and now a research fellow in the same lab as her mentor Iwuoha, spoke of his outstanding leadership skills.
“Today we celebrate someone who has been and still is a great leader, compassionate communicator and listener, trusted counsellor and an all-rounder,” she said.
The award aims to promote researchers who have identified and are mentoring young scientists to become highly productive academics of the future and international leaders in their areas of scientific expertise. The focus is on black, especially black female, postgraduate students.
UWC’s Dean of the Natural Sciences and Professor of Chemistry Michael Davies-Coleman, who nominated lwuoha for the award, paid tribute to him for this milestone achievement.
“Professor Iwuoha is one of the true gentlemen of Science. He has a deep empathy for his colleagues and postgraduate students, and has always generously found ways to assist those who work with him to advance their careers in chemistry, both nationally and internally,” he said.
“We are indeed fortunate to have a scientist of Prof Iwuoha's calibre and stature leading the research agenda in our Faculty,” said Davies-Coleman.
Speaking to Weekend Argus, Iwuoha said he was passionate about his work and was thrilled to pass his knowledge on to his students.
“I believe in being happy with what you do, and for me serving my students is what I enjoy most. As much as I appreciate the award, I am not one for all the accolades,” said lwuoha.
Douman said Iwuoha had helped her throughout the years from a personal and professional perspective as “one of those behind-the-scenes people who assist others to be great”.
Iwuoha helped her with a research paper published earlier this year in ChemComm, the journal of the Royal Society of Chemistry, UK.
The paper, titled “Wireless electrochemiluminescence at functionalised gold microparticles using 3D titanium electrode arrays”, is described as a foundation to develop electrochemical-based technologies that can help with water remediation, the process of cleaning and sanitising.
Douman said she was inspired by the 2017 and 2018 drought when Cape Town almost ran out of water.
In 2002, Iwuoha established the SensorLab in UWC’s Department of Chemistry, focusing on researching smart materials, electrochemistry, sensors and electrochemical energy. He also co-ordinated the establishment of the National Nanoscience Postgraduate Teaching and Training Platform in 2011, an inter-university initiative that offers a Master’s degree in Nanoscience.