Prof Anriëtte (Annie) Bekker, a vibration science expert at Stellenbosch University, is willing to brave harsh conditions in pursuit of new knowledge. Her interest lies in how data from mechanical sensors and engineering models on board a polar vessel can help seafarers make more informed decisions towards safer ship operations.
SYSTEMS AND TECHNOLOGIES FOR THE FUTURE
An investigator tracking the path of COVID-19, a scientist deciphering the body’s own armour against antimicrobial resistance, and an immunologist studying the placentas of pregnant women for clues that can explain preterm births. These are but three of the scientists at Stellenbosch University who are contributing to research for impact in Africa, and the world at large.
Stellenbosch University and Cambridge University are leading the Radio Experiment for the Analysis of the Cosmic Hydrogen (REACH) project.It is to be put into operation in 2023 in the Northern Cape’s Karoo Radio Astronomy Reserve. The project aims to help determine how the first luminous objects in the sky formed, and in what manner they subsequently shaped the universe.
In her work on projects aimed at restoring personhood for missing and unidentified people of the past — both recent and ancient — Dr Kathryn Smith, Departmental Chair of Visual Arts at Stellenbosch University (SU), is unearthing shared histories and untold stories through art, science, and collaborative work.
Southern African ingenuity in antenna design is on display as part of what promises to be the USA’s next major national facility in ground-based radio astronomy. Namibian Prof Robert Lehmensiek and South African Prof Dirk de Villiers will help determine just how far into the yet-unexplored and often cloudy, dusty corners of the universe astronomers will be able to probe with the Next Generation Very Large Array (ngVLA).
By the end of this year, the world is expected to have produced 94 zettabytes of data and have 4,95 billion active social media users, all creating more data on a daily basis. Some might feel engulfed by this avalanche of data, but others see it as an ideal opportunity to mine for solutions to the world’s problems, quite literally bit by bit.
The operating room of the future will still include surgeons, but they will have been trained to pilot machines like the Da Vinci Xi across a range of minimally invasive procedures, within their specific discipline. The performance of the country’s first six robot-assisted total hysterectomies at Tygerberg Hospital in June 2022 constituted the first exciting step into this future.
Nowadays, when Roanné Coetzer (24) looks at a black and white African penguin, she sees coloured dots. This is because penguins have been keeping this MEng student very busy during her studies. She has been using her knowledge of deep neural networks and other data science skills to write a computer program that automatically detects African penguin behaviour caught on camera.
Dr Emmanuel Dufourq has never seen one of the last 30 remaining Hainan gibbons on Earth, but he knows very well what their calls sound like, or at least what a spectrogram image of the highs and lows of their chatter looks like. He uses his computational skills to make it easier for conservation ecologists to analyse animal sound, video and photo footage. His group’s mission is to do this one keyboard stroke, one algorithm at a time.