Women in five new SARChI chairs at SU
Stellenbosch University (SU) boasts five new research chairs as part of the South African Research Chair Initiative (SARChI). These chairs, which are funded by Department of Science and Technology (DST) and the National Research Foundation (NRF), were awarded to five esteemed women researchers at SU. This brings the total number of research chairs at SU to 33 (24 SARChI chairs, and nine other chairs funded through other sources).
The new SARChI chairs are Dr Reinette (Oonsie) Biggs (Chair in “Social-Ecological Systems and Resilience”, placed within SU’s new Centre for Complex Systems in Transition); Prof Cherryl Walker of the Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology (Chair in Sociology of Land, Environment and Sustainable Development); Prof Amanda Gouws of the Department of Political Science (Chair in Gender Politics); Prof Anneke Hesseling, director of the paediatric TB research programme at the Desmond Tutu TB Centre and the Department of Paediatrics and Child Health (Chair in Paediatric Tuberculosis); and Prof Kathy Myburgh, distinguished professor in die Department of Physiology (Chair in Integrative Skeletal Muscle Physiology, Biology and Biotechnology).
SU Rector and Vice-Chancellor Prof Wim de Villiers congratulated the recipients: “It makes us very proud. This is recognition of their academic work and research, which is to the highest quality.”
He linked it to the transformation of the University, which includes gender. “The University is committed to the career advancement of women, especially at senior levels, where they are unfortunately still underrepresented. We are working on correcting this.”
“We are extremely pleased with the success of the five excellent SU candidates. For female researchers at SU and across the SA higher education sector this is a day to celebrate the important role of female academic staff members in this institution and in the country”, said Dr Therina Theron, Senior Director: Research and Innovation at SU.
She added: “More importantly, the sector now has 42 new female SARChI role models who will do transformative research, train large numbers of postgraduate students, and hopefully inspire large numbers of female students to enter the area of academic research.”
Theron said they will do their utmost to support these new Chairs, and to develop more capacity that will assist us in transforming and rejuvenating our academic cohort through programmes like this in the future.
The DST-NRF SARChI research chair initiative is designed to significantly expand the scientific research base of South Africa in a way that supports implementation of the national Research and Development policies. The main goal of the initiative is to strengthen and improve research and innovation capacity of public universities for producing high quality postgraduate students, research, and innovation outputs. Since its inception in 2006, 153 Research Chairs have been awarded in various disciplines and research fields and the Funding Instrument has been successful in retaining leading South African scientists in the university system and attracting leading foreign researchers and expatriate researchers to South Africa.