Optentia growing – one extraordinary professor at a time

Anjonet Jordaan -- Thu, 12/11/2014 - 16:01

Optentia growing – one extraordinary professor at a time

VANDERBIJLPARK – South Africa needs researchers in order to cultivate expertise that helps to grow its economy and its people. The Optentia Research Focus Area, situated on the Vaal Triangle Campus of North-West University, seeks to expand on knowledge that benefits ordinary South Africans today and in the future.

Over the course of 2014 Optentia added the expertise of 5 extraordinary professors to augment the knowledge and focus with which they investigate human potential in their 5 sub-programmes.


The extraordinary professors whose expertise, experience and insights have been added this year are:

  • Professor Silvia Koller from Brazil

Professor Koller is a Full Professor and Chair of the Centre for Psychosocial Studies of At-Risk Youth and Families in the Department of Psychology at the Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, Porto Alegre, Brazil. Professor Koller will be joining the Psychosocial Well-being and Communal Thriving, sub-programme headed up by Professor Tumi Khumalo, to focus on research regarding the well-being of youth.

Prof Silvia Koller

  • Professor Hans-Henrik Knoop from Denmark

Professor Knoop delivered his prestige lecture in October on the topic: “Positive Psychology in Education: How Fairness, Well-being and Performance are Mutually Depending Aspects of Future Education”. Professor Knoop will be contributing to research in the sub-programme Psychosocial Well-being and Communal Thriving. He will be participating on projects focussing on play and flourishing of children.

Prof Hans Henrik Knoop

  • Professor Robbie Gilligan from Ireland

Professor Gilligan’s prestige lecture focused on youth unemployment and how universities may contribute towards a solution for this international problem. Professor Gilligan joined the Pathways to Resilience and Post-traumatic Growth sub-programme under leadership of acclaimed researcher Professor Linda Theron. Prof Gilligan is a professor of social work and social policy at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland where he is also the Associate Director (and co-founder) of the Children’s Research Centre.

Prof Robbie Gilligan



  • Professor Anja Van Den Broeck from Belgium

Professor Van Den Broeck (Hoge School Universiteit Brussels, Belgium) is an expert in well-being and self-determination theory. She joined the Flourishing in Institutions sub-programme at Optentia and plays a leading role in a current research project on unemployment and motivation in South Africa. This sub-programme is under the leadership of Optentia director Professor Ian Rothmann.

Prof Anja Van Den Broeck

  • Professor Mark Bussin from South Africa

Professor Bussin is one of the foremost experts in South Africa on employee remuneration and as such is the Chairperson of 21st Century Pay Solutions Group, a specialist reward consultancy located in Johannesburg. He joined Optentia in February and became part of the Talent Management sub-programme under the leadership of Professor Nicolene Barkhuizen.

According to Optentia’s director, Prof Ian Rothmann, the appointment of extraordinary professors in the Optentia Research Focus Area forms an important strategy to develop world class research projects, which results in international publications in journals of good standing; promote the competence (skills and motivation) of Optentia staff members and students; market the research focus area; and develops formal relationships with other countries for strategic and funding purposes. Therefore, appointing extraordinary professors contribute to the internationalisation of the focus area.

Prof Mark Bussin


*The Optentia Research Focus Area has five sub-programmes:

  • Flourishing in Institutions
  • Pathways to Resilience and Post-traumatic Growth
  • Psychosocial Well-being and Communal Thriving
  • Unlocking Potential in Educational Processes
  • Talent Management

For more information on Optentia visit their website: www.optentia.co.za