NWU women shine at prestigious science awards

Marelize Santana -- Fri, 08/30/2019 - 09:20

NWU women shine at prestigious science awards

The women of the North-West University (NWU) continue to shine in Women’s Month and their extraordinary achievements do not go unnoticed.

On 15 August, the NWU was well represented at the Department of Science and Technology’s prestigious South African Women in Science Awards (SAWiSA) in Port Elizabeth. Prof Martinette Kruger received the Distinguished Young Woman Researcher Award for Humanities and Social Sciences, and Anneke Schoeman, a PhD student, received the DST-Albertina Sisulu Fellowship award.

Prof Kruger, a full-time researcher and professor at the NWU’s Tourism Research in Economics, Environs and Society (TREES) unit, conducts research on how festivals and sporting events can facilitate tourism in a developing, multicultural country. She is part of international projects involving the European Union and the Thompson Rivers University in Canada, among others, and holds a PhD in tourism management.

“Winning this award is a great honour and a personal career highlight for me. It reflects years of hard work, dedication and sacrifices to excel in my career,” says Prof Kruger.

She is especially proud that TREES, through her award, is being recognised for the industry-based research it conducts to expand and sustain the tourism industry in South Africa.

“With this award, I hope to continue to inspire women researchers, especially young up-and-coming researchers. If you can dream it, you can achieve it!”

From frogs to fellowship
PhD student Anneke Schoeman was one of six doctoral students to receive a DST-Albertina Sisulu fellowship.

Recognising outstanding ability and potential in research, the fellowship aims to enhance the recipients’ research experience and output, and encourage more young women to complete research degrees.

Anneke’s field is environmental sciences and her studies focus on the parasites present on the platanna (African clawed frog). She examines frogs throughout South Africa to see if the parasites they carry change from region to region, and then compares the information with the parasites on intruder platanna species worldwide.

“It was wonderful to receive the DST-Albertina Sisulu fellowship. Everyone in my research group –  the Africa Amphibian conservation group under the supervision of Prof Louis du Preez –  played a part in my receiving it,” says Anneke humbly.

Her plans are to complete her PhD and stay in the academic field.

Awards honours exceptional researchers
The annual SAWiSA awards profile exceptional researchers and scientists as role models for women. The theme of this year’s awards was “Making the fourth industrial revolution work for women”.

Awards are presented to researchers in various academic disciplines, namely the natural (life and physical) and engineering sciences and humanities and social sciences, as well as for research and innovation.

NWU salutes its winning women
Commenting on the contribution that NWU women researchers make, Prof Refilwe Phaswana-Mafuya, deputy vice-chancellor for research and innovation, says she appreciates and honours all women scientists and academics at the NWU.

“We profiled some of the early career women scientists internally and externally and engaged in outreach initiatives with young women.”

“I know exactly what they had to go through to be where they are now because I have also been there. It takes visionary, bold and resilient women to be among the few women in science and in the academic space. There is nothing as fulfilling as seeing women rise above tall hurdles to stand and be counted among the few.”

In honour of Women’s Month, she also acknowledges all NWU’s women scientists and researchers who obtained NRF ratings in 2018/19; are holders of SARCHI research chairs or other chairs; are research directors and research supervisors, and have been appointed to serve on national and international boards.

Prof Refilwe also salutes the university’s women scientists who obtained best pitch awards at the Black Women in Science conference, as well as those who received best poster awards at the NWU’s research day, have chaired scientific conferences both internally and externally, given talks to women nationally and internationally, and received the Discovery award at the South African AIDS conference.

Finally, she salutes all the women who graduated with their master’s and doctoral degrees in April and July this year, as well as those who are postgraduate students and those who have been nominated for the deputy vice-chancellor’s Research and Innovation Emerging Research Chair initiative.

Making the NWU proud – members of the university community celebrate its achievements at the SAWiSA ceremony on 15 August. They are Prof Refilwe Phaswana-Mafuya, deputy vice-chancellor for research and innovation, Prof Juaneé  Cilliers, finalist in the SAWiSA Natural (Life and Physical) category, Anneke Schoeman, PhD student, Prof Martinette Kruger, winner in the SAWiSA Humanities and Social Sciences category, and Prof Attie de Lange of the NWU’s Faculty of Humanities.

Prof Martinette Kruger

Anneke Schoeman