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SARChI Meat Science | Genomics to Nutriomics

The SARChI chair in Meat science: Genomics to Nutriomics


Hosted by Stellenbosch University (Prof Louw Hoffman) in partnership with
the University of Fort Hare (Prof Voster Muchenje).
The chair is funded by the South African Department of Science and Technology
and administered by the National Research Foundation of South Africa.

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Prof Louw Hoffman

Since my appointment at Stellenbosch University in 1997, my vision has been to develop the Meat Science section (falling within the Animal Sciences Department) into a centre of excellence and to guide the team to becoming the leading Meat Science research group in Africa as well as a role-player in the sector internationally.  Both the identification of a unique and compelling research area in which our expertise could be advanced as well as ensuring the effective training of quality undergraduate and postgraduate students were key to progressing towards such goals. Although finding such a niche area of research was initially challenging, I soon realized the potential of focusing on the production and quality of exotic meats produced in low input agricultural systems.  These systems are typical of Southern Africa, particularly with regard to ostrich and game meat, and little in-depth research had hitherto been done in this field.  Although my current research is centered on the various factors influencing meat quality (‘from gate to plate’), I remain the only Meat Scientist that focused predominantly on the aforementioned species.

While endeavoring to from a strong research unit, it soon became apparent that it would be necessary for this to involve a virtual team, with contributions from experts in various disciplines and at different national and international research institutions as co-supervisors (for the benefit of students) or as co-investigators (for contract research projects). Members of this virtual research core include Professors Extraordinary from central government (Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries), the Agricultural Research Centre and the Department of Agriculture (Western Cape), as well as members from other academic institutions such Prof Muchenje (UFH), Dr Radloff (CPUT), Prof Gouws (UWC) and Dr Bekker (TUT).  This collaboration has enabled me to manage a large number of postgraduate students and has led to the establishment of a broad-based team that will ensure that research of an international standard will continue to be conducted at this university. Although most of my postgraduate students have Animal Science, Food Science or Conservation Ecology backgrounds, and there is a large amount of collaboration between these three departments, I remain the primary supervisor for more than 90% of my MSc and PhD students.

Click here to view Prof Hoffman’s CV

Prof Voster Muchenje

My love affair with Meat Science commenced upon reading literature and realising that there was an untapped niche in this area and decided to pursue it in my PhD studies. With the results I obtained I became more fascinated and decided to explore more. Upon being appointed as a Senior Lecturer in 2008 at the University of Fort Hare (UFH) and with the support of various grants from the NRF (National Research Foundation), Adam Fleming (Nguni Cattle Project), the RMRD-SA (Red Meat Research and Development-SA) and the Department of Higher Education and Training, I managed to set up a meat science laboratory in the Department of Livestock and Pasture at UFH to take up further research. Results have been good as seen with the increase in publications and patent registration in the past 5 years (2009-2014). I have received recognition of my work as indicated by the high levels of citations and downloading of my peer-reviewed papers. I also received the South African Society for Animal Science (SASAS) President’s Award for the exceptional contribution delivered to Animal Science and the Livestock Industry in 2012, inaugurated as a founding member of the South African Young Academy of Science (SAYAS) in 2011, elected as the SAYAS Co-Chair in 2014, and recently received the UFH VC’s Senior Researcher Award for 2014.

Co-hosting of the Chair has enabled me to look into farm and abattoir environments and their effects on meat quality parameters using a farm-to-fork approach. To date I have successfully supervised 6 post-doctoral fellows, 4 PhD students, 31 MSc students and more than 14 Honours students. I currently have a large number of MSc and PhD students, and two post-doctoral fellows. With this experience I plan to add value to the Chair in producing research that will be of benefit commercial and communal farmers, and the meat industry globally. I am also glad to highlight that to date 7 postgraduate students (2 PhD and 5 MSc) from the University of Fort Hare have immensely benefited from the SARChI Chair in Meat Science and we hope to add more in the coming years. Furthermore, high quality peer-reviewed publications in high impact journals have been published. Some selected publications from my work are available on the website: http://wvw.ufh.ac.za/departments/agric-lp/muchenje

Networking and collaborations have been strengthened with local and international universities and research institutions. Some of these significant collaborating institutions which greatly helped in improving the quality of my outputs and students include Stellenbosch University, the University of Free State, INTA (Argentina), the Agricultural Research Council (ARC), and recently the French-SA collaboration which involves the Department of Science and Technology (DST), the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) and the French Embassy in Pretoria.