leading researchers

Top 1% researchers/ Our Leading Researchers

UFS strip research

We are proud of our outstanding researchers – some of whom are highly ranked by the NRF rating system, some identified in the international listings of leading researchers (such as the Stanford list and the Clarivate Web of Science list), some who are holders of the prestigious SARChI Chairs, and those who have maintained a high level of research productivity and presence for a number of years.


Martin Nyaga is Associate Professor and Head of the University of the Free State-Next Generation Sequencing (UFS-NGS) Unit and is the principal investigator (PI) for the unit’s initiatives. The UFS-NGS Unit is a WHO-collaborating centre for the surveillance of Vaccine-Preventable Diseases (VPD) and Pathogen Genomics, of which Prof Nyaga serves as the Director. His academic affiliation is with the Division of Medical Virology within the Faculty of Health Sciences.

Prof Nyaga’s research interests utilise genomics surveillance on VPD, particularly pre- and post-vaccination of enteric virus surveillance at whole genome level for the WHO African Rotavirus Surveillance Network (ARSN) and the Africa CDC Pathogen Genomics Initiative (PGI) VPD focus group, with the aim of providing technical guidance and support to develop a continental VPD road map and implementation strategy for enhancing priority genomics surveillance in Africa. He is currently the PI in two Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation-funded studies investigating the long-term effects of the introduction of the monovalent Rotarix vaccine and the sequencing of the antigenic cartography of enteric viruses (SACEV) in five African countries (Cameroon, Ghana, Malawi, Kenya, and South Africa) through the African Enteric Viruses Genome Initiative (AEVGI). One of the key goals of the AEVGI is to leverage a genomics and bioinformatics approach to complement the routine work done by the ARSN.

He is the team lead for studies on metagenomics of gut and respiratory virome in the UFS-NGS Unit. These studies aim to establish the role played by the gut and respiratory virome in young children over time to effect normal and metabolic disorders that may influence a child’s healthy growth or impact medical conditions such as obesity later in life.

Prof Nyaga is an NRF-rated researcher. His research initiatives are funded by both third-stream and national funding streams. He has disseminated more than 150 peer-reviewed articles in international journals and scientific conferences, deposited more than 50 000 full-length and partial genome sequences at the NCBI GenBank, and supervised more than 30 postgraduate students. Part of his research profile can be accessed through the following link: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-5017-5584


Kovo Akpomie

Kovo Godfrey Akpomie is a Research Fellow in the Department of Chemistry. His research focuses on the synthesis of various porous adsorbent materials, including metal-organic-frameworks (MOFs), nanoparticles, activated carbon, biochar, and composites for the removal of dyes, heavy metals, pharmaceuticals, radionuclides and oil contaminants from water and wastewater. Additionally, he explores the valorisation of agricultural waste and low-cost inorganic materials such as clay for the adsorption of water contaminants. Insights into the interaction mode between the water contaminants and the adsorbents, or the mechanism of removal, are provided through suitable modelling of the isotherm, kinetics, thermodynamics, computational approaches, and adsorbent reusability. The approach facilitates the development of highly efficient materials for removing water pollutants, mitigating their toxic effects on humans and the ecosystem through the adsorption technique.

Prof Akpomie’s research also focuses on developing new natural coagulants from biomass for treating industrial wastewater, using the coagulation/flocculation method. Natural coagulants are preferred over commercially applied chemical coagulants due to the excess chemical sludge and high costs associated with the latter. Thus, he aims to address challenges related to the use of commercial chemical coagulants for industrial wastewater treatment. Additionally, he works on preparing efficient corrosion inhibitors for the corrosion inhibition of metals in industries.

Prof Akpomie is a member of the South African Chemical Institute (SACI), an associate member of the South African Institute of Physics (SAIP), and a member of the Chemical Society of Nigeria (CSN). Moreover, he serves as an editorial board member for two journals: Frontiers in Chemistry and Frontiers in Chemical Engineering.


Dr Anand Krishnan

Krishnan Anand is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Chemical Pathology and a Y1 NRF-rated researcher, recognised in Stanford University’s global list of leading researchers in applied biochemistry. An internationally acclaimed researcher, he operates at the forefront of global health, aligning his research with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 3: ‘Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages’. This alignment helps him to produce relevant research and lifesaving 21st-century metabolic medicines.

Dr Anand’s passion lies in nanoscience with a focus on translational research. His interdisciplinary work integrates clinical chemistry, medical biochemistry, bioinformatics, and nanobiotechnology, producing results and literature of international quality and standard.

He leads the Precision Medicine and Integrative Nano Diagnostics (P-MIND) laboratories, currently engaged in studying the biological functions of extracellular vesicles (EVs) in cellular studies conducted under supraphysiological conditions, biomarker discovery through EVs derived from liquid biopsies, and the role of circulating biomarkers in disease development. The recent development of nanosensors for early and non-invasive disease diagnosis is a noteworthy contribution. The P-MIND research group actively contributes to the fields of nanopathology and nanodiagnosis in the Department of Chemical Pathology within the School of Pathology of the UFS Faculty of Health Sciences.



Alhadji Malloum is a Postdoctoral Fellow conducting research in the Department of Chemistry, specifically in the Physical Chemistry Unit. His current research focuses on three main interests, which expand every year.

His first interest is computational adsorption for wastewater treatment. Dr Malloum develops computational methodologies to evaluate the adsorption capacity of materials for wastewater treatment. Currently, the focus is on establishing a computational methodology that reproduces experimental conditions for adsorption in wastewater treatment. One of the methodologies under development involves applying machine learning to predict the adsorption capacity of materials characterised experimentally and provide advice on their efficiency against specific pollutants.

The second interest is the theoretical understanding of liquids. The objective is to develop methodologies that use clusters to predict the properties of liquids/solvents. Recently, the team applied quantum cluster equilibrium theory to predict the liquid properties of ethanol, dimethyl sulfoxide, and ammonia in perfect agreement with experimental results.

The third interest is the application of molecular dynamic simulation to study biologically relevant molecules. Recently, they started investigating an i-motif DNA structure responsible for cancer. This emerging area of research is crucial to facilitate drug design in cancer treatment. 

Dr Malloum also serves as a reviewer for more than ten internationally renowned journals. Additionally, he is a reviewer for NRF rating evaluations.


John Carranza

John Carranza has been a Professor (Economic Geology) in the Department of Geology since 2022. Prior to this, he held the positions of Professor (Geological Sciences) at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (2017-2021); Associate Professor (Computational Modelling Applied to Exploration/Mining Geology) at James Cook University, Australia (2013-2016); Assistant Professor (Predictive Modelling in Geological/Mineral Exploration) at the University of Twente, the Netherlands (2003-2012); Researcher at the International Institute for Geo-Information Science and Earth Observation, the Netherlands (2001-2003), and exploration geologist/geochemist at the Mines and Geosciences Bureau, Philippines (1983-2001).

His research motivation is: ‘To develop and disseminate expertise/knowledge in predicting mineral prospectivity and estimating undiscovered mineral endowment through the understanding of relevant mineral systems and the application of GIS and remote sensing technology’. He has built an international expert reputation based on his papers on geochemical anomaly and mineral prospectivity mapping. Since studying for his PhD in 1997, he has published 282 papers in peer-reviewed international geoscience journals. In 2008, he published a book on Geochemical Anomaly and Mineral Prospectivity Mapping in GIS. Currently, he has an H-index of 75 and at least 19 000 citations (Google Scholar). He is a B1 NRF-rated researcher in South Africa and has been ranked by Stanford University as among the world's top 2% of scientists in the fields of Geochemistry and Geophysics.

Prof Carranza is a Fellow (2009-present) of the Association of Applied Geochemists and recently served as its President (2022-2023). He is a Fellow of the Society of Economic Geologists (2012-present) and a member of the International Association for Mathematical Geosciences (2004-present) and the Geochemical Society (2010-present). He was a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Geoscientists (AIG) (2014-2018) and a Registered Professional Geoscientist (2014-2018) with the AIG in the fields of Mineral Exploration, Geochemistry, and Information Geoscience.

He is the Editor-in-Chief of Natural Resources Research (2012-present) (IF 5.4; Q1 Geosciences, Multidisciplinary 22/202), Senior Associate Editor of Geochemistry: Exploration, Environment, Analysis (2010-present) (IF 2.4; Q2 42/87 Geochemistry and Geophysics), and Associate Editor of Journal of Geochemical Exploration (2010-present) (IF 3.9; Q1 19/87 Geochemistry and Geophysics) and Ore Geology Reviews (2011-present) (IF 3.3; Q1 5/48 Geology).

Prof Carranza is the recipient of the 2022 William Christian Krumbein Award, the highest award given by the International Association for Mathematical Geosciences (IAMG) to senior scientists for career achievement. The award recognises distinction in the application of mathematics or informatics in the earth sciences, service to the IAMG, and support to professions involved in the earth sciences.



Dr Abhay Prakash Mishra, with a PhD in Pharmacy, is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Pharmacology. He has been working since May 2021 in African Medicine and Innovation Technology Development (AMITD), a division in the Department of Pharmacology at the UFS.

Previously, he served as a senior lecturer cum researcher at Hemwati Nandan Bahuguna Garhwal University, Uttarakhand, India from 2016 to 2020. In 2019, he was invited as a postdoctoral visiting fellow for technology transfer at the Center for Drug Discovery Research and Development (CDDRD), Ain Shams University, a prestigious institute in Egypt.

His research focuses on phytopharmaceuticals, nutraceuticals, cosmeceuticals, and natural product research. He has hands-on experience with several chromatography techniques, including HPLC, Flash, and Column Chromatography. At AMITD, he is involved in formulating and developing various prototypes based on indigenous medicinal plants from South Africa.

He is actively participating in the development of a Cannabis sativa-based topical gel formulation for pain and inflammation. Dr Mishra has work experience with Candida albicans and has first-hand knowledge of antibiofilm bioassays against Candida species.

He is also the Associated Leading Researcher of the LBCAR, Orel State University (https://bioconlab.org/research-group/mishra-abhay-prakash/).


Prof David Motaung

David E Motaung is a Professor in the Department of Physics at the University of the Free State, South Africa. He was rated as a top 2% scientist in the world by Stanford University in 2022 and 2023. His current research interests include the design, synthesis, and characterisation of semiconductor metal oxides (SMO), metal-organic frameworks (MOFs), perovskite, and MXenes nanostructured materials, and their application in gas sensing devices for muscle food quality and air quality monitoring. The work focuses on underpinning the effects of the inherent material structure properties related to SMO, MOFs, perovskite, and MXenes crystals with vastly reactive facets for gas selectivity, and the mixed nanostructured materials for selective p-n or n-p response inversion on the gas sensing performance. Additionally, his research also emphasises the preparation of organic-inorganic photovoltaic solar cells. Most importantly, Prof Motaung’s research work seeks to translate the laboratory research fundamentals into innovative and socially impactful prototype products that can be utilised in the daily life of humankind.

He has published more than 130 peer-reviewed articles, including five comprehensive review articles, all leading to a scientific impact contribution with an h-index of 41, according to Scopus. Google Scholar databases account for 4 268 citations and an i10 index of 93. He has contributed to more than 18 book chapters and has edited two books of Elsevier and CRC Press, titled Nanotechnology-based Smart Remote Sensing Networks for Disaster Prevention and Advanced Two-Dimensional Nanomaterials for Environmental Remediation.

Moreover, he is currently serving as guest editor of MDPI Coatings, a special issue based on Current Trends in Coatings for Gas Sensors. He also served as a guest editor of two special issues in Frontiers Energy Materials and the MDPI journal Catalysts, titled ‘Advances in Semi-transparent Solar Technologies for Next-Generation Integrated Photovoltaics’ and ‘Nanocatalysis for Green Chemicals Synthesis’, respectively.


Armand Bester, Senior Medical Scientist for the National Health Laboratory Services, conducts research in the Division of Medical Virology. He has a passion for the 'awkwardness' of interdisciplinary research and is involved in projects of the Department of Microbiology and Biochemistry, the Grid Related Research Group (Department of Engineering Sciences), and the Interdisciplinary Centre for Digital Futures.

He recognised the amount of data being generated in science, surpassing what one would have been used to not too long ago. Always intrigued by algorithms and programming languages, the merging of informatics and science is one of his favourite things, offering him the opportunity to participate in diverse projects.

His work includes involvement in HIV drug resistance testing, wherein sequencing parts of the viral genome informs about the virus' susceptibility to anti-retroviral drugs. If the patient shows resistance to a particular drug they are taking, this guides the clinician in adjusting the regimen. In addition, generating sequence data allows for phylogenetic analysis, leading to the development of a standalone bioinformatic pipeline. Besides academic pursuits, this work resulted in the opportunity to contribute to an article about HIV on RStudio's blog (https://rviews.rstudio.com/2019/04/30/analysing-hiv-pandemic-part-1/), a four-part series analysing public data using R.

Bester also has the opportunity to collaborate on projects such as viral surveillance, studying viruses and microbes in infant guts, and exploring fungi in urban water. In the world of data analysis, he and colleagues examine patient laboratory test results related to hepatitis B infections, aiming to show how this highly infectious but preventable virus is neglected. A previous collaboration with Oxford involved a meta-analysis on the serology of hepatitis B in Africa, leading to an interactive dashboard (https://hbv-geo.shinyapps.io/oxafricahbv/).

Within the Grid Related Research Group (GRRG) and in Research High Performance Computing, Bester contributed to the development of a real-time dashboard showcasing power consumption and grid frequency for both the Bloemfontein and Qwaqwa campuses (https://s.ern.ufs.ac.za/grrg). Collaborating with the Interdisciplinary Centre for Digital Futures (ICDF), he is involved with a group of researchers trying to find out how social layers and the use and understanding of electricity influence each other.

Bester is a member of the HIV Drug Resistance Testing Committee.

Marieka Gryzenhout

Marieka Gryzenhout, a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Genetics, is a biosystematist focusing on the biodiversity and taxonomy of fungi. Her particular interest lies in exploring the applications of medicinal and psychedelic mushrooms in South Africa, and she actively collaborates with industry partners.

With a notable academic background, Dr Gryzenhout has contributed significantly to her field, boasting 112 peer-reviewed publications. Her dedication and expertise have earned her recognition as a C2 NRF-rated scientist, highlighting her standing in the scientific community.

Beyond her research, Dr Gryzenhout is actively involved in various capacities. She serves on the IUCN Species Survival Commission Specialist Group, contributing to the study and preservation of cup fungi, truffles, and their allies since 2010. Her involvement extends to the ‘Mushroom, Bracket, and Puffball Group’ and fungal conservation efforts from 2018 onwards.

Adding to her impactful presence, Dr Gryzenhout holds leadership roles as the Vice-President of the Council of the South African Genetics Society since 2022 and as a Council member of the Mycological Society of South Africa since 2019. Through her multifaceted contributions, she continues to shape and advance the fields of genetics and mycology in South Africa.

Abdon Atangana

Abdon Atangana, Professor in the Institute for Groundwater Studies, is a leading researcher in Applied Mathematics. His research interests lie in methods and applications of partial and ordinary differential equations, fractional differential equations, perturbation methods, asymptotic methods, iterative methods, and groundwater modelling.

Prof Atangana is known for his work in developing a new fractional operator, the Atangana-Baleanu operator, which is used to model real-world problems in science, technology, and engineering – from predicting groundwater flow to the spread of infectious diseases. With this operator, he not only describes the rate at which something will change, but also accounts for disrupting factors that will help to produce better projections.


In 2020, the Clarivate Web of Science listed him among the top 1% of scientists recognised for their exceptional research influence, demonstrated by the production of multiple cited papers (one of only ten South African scientists listed). He was also named on a global list of leading scientists by Stanford University. He ranked number one in the world in mathematics, number 186 in the world in all fields, and number one in Africa in all fields on the single-year data set. In 2021, he was elected as a fellow of The World Academy of Sciences (TWAS) in recognition of his outstanding contribution to science and its promotion in the developing world. He is only the second South African and sixth African researcher to be elected a fellow in the field of mathematics. In 2023, he was one of five young scientists awarded the first UNESCO-Al Fozan International Prize for the Promotion of Young Scientists in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). He received this honour for groundbreaking contributions to the field of mathematics, helping to model complex real-world problems.

Prof Atangana is editor of more than 20 leading journals for applied mathematics and mathematics – and for some of these journals he was the first African to be appointed as editor. Prof Atangana was elected as Chairperson of the African Mathematical Union Commission for Research and Innovations (AMU-CRIMS).


Conradie Prof Jeanet

Jeanet Conradie, is an Emeritus Professor and Research Fellow of Chemistry. She is regularly ranked as one of the top researchers at the UFS in terms of annual publication output units. Prof Conradie is specifically interested in computational chemistry, and her research focus is the synergy between experimental and computational chemistry in understanding the structure and reactivity of transition metal complexes. Her research group focuses on the synthesis, characterisation, computational chemistry, electrochemistry and kinetics of ligands, transition metal complexes, transition states and reaction intermediates for application in drugs, dye-sensitised solar cells (DSSC), and catalysis. Prof Conradie was named in the Stanford University global list (2019, updated 2022) of leading scientists as among the top 2% of scientists in the world – both in the single-year data set and in terms of career-long data. Prof Conradie has many national and international collaborators in Africa, the Americas, and Europe. She is the author/co-author of more than 400 scientific articles in high-impact international scientific journals. 


Ivan Turok

Ivan Turok holds the DSI/NRF Research Chair (SARChI) in City-Region Economies at the UFS. This is the first partnership of its kind between a university and a research council (the HSRC). The chair seeks to understand how cities can accelerate economic growth and inclusive development, why some cities are more successful than others, and which policies and practices can improve conditions for citizens, firms, and communities. Prof Turok is an NRF B1-rated researcher and one of the most cited social scientists in the country, with more than 150 scientific papers in international journals and books. He is ranked in the top 1% of global scientists by Stanford University and the Clarivate Web of Science and is ranked 42 out of 9 701 top global scientists within the specific field of urban and regional planning. He is the former editor-in-chief of Regional Studies and is currently editor of Area Development and Policyand Development Southern Africa. He is an adviser to the United Nations, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), African Development Bank, and the European Union. Prof Turok chaired Durban’s City Planning Commission for four years, helped prepare South Africa’s Integrated Urban Development Framework, and contributed to the National Development Plan. He is an urban and regional economist and development planner – covering urbanisation, affordable housing, township economies, labour markets, urban policy, regional economic development, and tradable services. Prof Turok was also shortlisted for the National Science and Technology Forum (NSTF) lifetime award in 2021.


Dirk Opperman

Dirk Opperman, Professor in the Department of Microbiology, is a B-rated scientist whose research specialisation lies in biocatalysis, structural biology, and directed evolution. He was a co-investigator in the international team of the Global Challenges Research Fund-Synchrotron Techniques for African Research and Technology (GCRF-START) project, which enables collaboration between African and British scientists using synchrotron radiation. The team of researchers recently contributed to an influential paper, ‘Accurate prediction of protein structures and interactions using a three-track neural network’, in Science (373[6557] pp. 871-876). Most of the research and data collection was undertaken at a specialised facility, Diamond Light Source, in the United Kingdom. Having insight into the three-dimensional structure of a protein is essential to understanding its function and mechanism at an atomic level. Prof Opperman also has long-standing collaborative projects with the Biotechnology group at the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands. In 2021, together with research groups from Norway, the United Kingdom, France, and Kenya, he secured funding via the ERA-NET co-fund on Food Systems and Climate (FOSC) to develop biotechnological processes to upcycle waste products into valuable products and to promote a circular economy.


Hendrik Swart is a Senior Professor in the Department of Physics and a B1 NRF-rated researcher who was included in Stanford University’s global list of leading researchers in applied physics. He brought luminescence materials to South Africa in 1996 after a highly productive sabbatical at the University of Florida, USA. This laid the foundation for his subsequent research; since then, he has led research in the area of phosphor degradation for field emission displays, as well as developing materials for nano solid-state lighting. He has been key in the development of processes to synthesise and deposit thin films of various types of semiconductor nano-particles, which will enhance the colour, luminescent intensity, and lifetime of such displays. His research led to the establishment of a strong group working on luminescent materials, culminating in the awarding of the SARChI Chair in Solid-State Luminescent and Advanced Materials in 2012, which was renewed for another five years until 2022 and again to 2027. The main focus of his research group is the improvement of luminescent materials for application in flat panel displays, solar cells, solid-state lighting, dosimetry, and thermometry.


Maryke Labuschagne from the Department of Plant Sciences leads the SARChI Chair in Disease Resistance and Quality of Field Crops. The chair, which was extended for a further five years in 2020, focuses on advancing food security and nutrition in Africa. Prof Labuschagne emphasises that, despite recent advances in addressing hunger and food security, they remain critical issues. She believes the uniqueness and strength of the chair lies in its dual emphasis on breeding cereal crops for resistance to fungal diseases and improving the nutritional value and quality of crops for processing and human consumption. Prof Labuschagne’s work has taken her all over Africa to research the genetic improvement of staple food crops in communities. Through decades of research and collaboration, she has also contributed to the establishment of a strong network of researchers on the continent.


Melanie Walker

Melanie Walker is a Distinguished Professor and holder of the SARChI Chair in Higher Education and Human Development. She is an NRF A1-rated researcher, fellow of ASSAf, and a lifetime fellow of the Human Development and Capability Association (HDCA). For 2022-2024, Prof Walker is the elected President of the HDCA – the first HDCA president to be based in the Global South. Prof Walker’s specific interest in education research lies in how it can explore and reveal inequalities and opportunities in ways that might enable improved social justice in education spaces and foster an understanding of what higher education can do in relation to advancing well-being across society. Through her international reputation, her research, and outstanding mentorship, she inspires and capacitates young sub-Saharan researchers, and has had a significant impact on the standing and reputation of the UFS. Prof Walker is listed as one of the world’s leading scientists by Stanford University. She is currently honorary professor at the University of Nottingham and the University of Pretoria.


Carlien Pohl-Albertyn, Professor of Microbiology in the Department of Microbiology and Biochemistry, is the holder of the SARChI Chair in Pathogenic Yeasts, studying pathogenic yeast infections and necessary treatment options. The research group focuses on molecular mechanisms of virulence and the role of bioactive lipids in pathogenic yeasts, specifically Cryptococcus neoformansand several Candidaspecies. The group is also interested in the virulence of polymicrobial infections consisting of Candida spp. and the bacterium Pseudomonas aeruginosa, as well as the impact of co-infections with pathogenic yeasts and various viruses, including SARS-CoV-2 and enteric viruses. This research brings hope to many immunosuppressed patients, such as those battling HIV/Aids, cancer, and diabetes, who suffer from opportunistic yeast infections. Prof Pohl-Albertyn was on the team of researchers who wrote the health sector’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic in South Africa for the Country Report submitted to Parliament.


Felicity Burt

Prof Felicity Burt is a Principal Medical Scientist in the Division of Virology at the National Health Laboratory Service and the University of the Free State. She currently holds a South African Research Chair (SARChI) in Vector-Borne and Zoonotic Pathogens Research. Her research focuses on the detection, pathogenesis, and molecular epidemiology of medically significant arboviruses and viral haemorrhagic fevers found in Southern Africa. Her interests and expertise are in host immune responses to arboviral infections, specifically characterising humoral and cellular immune responses in patients; epitope discovery for the development of diagnostic tools; development of molecular and serological assays for surveillance purposes; virus discovery; and development of vaccines against medically significant arboviruses. She is responsible for the Biosafety Level-3 facility at the university, established primarily for handling zoonotic and arboviral pathogens. She has supervised more than 40 postgraduate students and postdoctoral fellows and has more than 90 publications in international peer-reviewed journals. She is an NRF B-rated scientist and an internationally recognised expert on the Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever virus and was an invited member of the WHO-led prioritisation of diseases of epidemic and pandemic threat review for viruses from the Bunyaviridae and Togaviridae families.

Prof Burt emphasises that the majority of new and emerging viruses are zoonotic in origin and that the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic highlights the impact of an emerging zoonotic pathogen on society. Consequently, her research group uses a One Health approach in their surveillance programmes, in which interactions between humans, animal hosts, and the environment are considered in order to further our knowledge and understanding of viruses with public and/or veterinary health implications circulating in nature. In the absence of commercially available assays, the group is adept at developing and validating multiple assays for application in its research. The surveillance confirmed the presence of several viruses with public health implications circulating within mosquito populations in the Free State.


Willem Boshoff

Willem Boshoff has been a Senior Professor in Fine Arts at the UFS for the past ten years. In 2021, he wfas awarded the NRF A2-rating – the first South African artist to be awarded this honour. He is an internationally acclaimed practising artist. As a conceptual artist, Willem Boshoff primarily engages with text and language. For more than four decades, his visual artworks have commented on established language systems and how these function in society to empower or to exclude. His artistic practice involves extensive interdisciplinary research in the fields of lexicography, botany, philosophy, as well as music, with a special interest in contemporary New Music composers. He has donated his entire digital research archive to the UFS Department of Fine Arts. The writing of dictionaries forms an integral part of Willem Boshoff’s artmaking, whether published in book form or presented as large sculptural installations.

The BLIND ALPHABET project (1993 and ongoing) is a three-dimensional dictionary of morphology, with the ‘entries’ being sculptural interpretations of obscure words in wood hidden inside wire baskets. The words interpreted – from the letter A and currently up to the letter L – are hidden from plain sight, as gallery signs stating DO NOT TOUCH traditionally prevent the sighted visitor from touching or opening them. Only a blind viewer may open the lids of the wire baskets, interpret the sculpted concept, and read the definition of the word in braille, acting as guide for the disenfranchised sighted viewer. The open box in the image below contains the word 'Bicolligate'. (See Blind Alphabet under Artworks at www.willemboshoff.com).

For many decades, Prof Boshoff has consistently brought value and critical perspective to arts education in South Africa by teaching, formally evaluating MA and PhD candidates in Fine Arts, and by being called upon to review South Africa’s foremost Fine Arts faculties. His academic qualifications include an honorary PhD in Philosophy awarded by the University of Johannesburg in 2008. Prof Willem Boshoff’s work has been exhibited extensively locally and abroad, including at the Sao Paulo and Venice Biennial exhibitions, at the Centre Pompidou in Paris, France, and at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in Madrid, Spain. His work is included in the permanent collections of the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art in Washington DC, and the Yorkshire Sculpture Park in Yorkshire, United Kingdom. He was the 1998 winner of the Ludwig Giess Preis für Kleinplastik by the LETTER Stiftung of Cologne, Germany.


Kobus Marais is Professor of Translation Studies in the Department of Linguistics and Language Practice. He has published two monographs, Translation theory and development studies: A complexity theory approach (2014) and A (bio)semiotic theory of translation: The emergence of social-cultural reality (2018). The introduction to a review of the latter by Michael Cronin of the renowned translation studies school, reads as follows:

"Few books are discipline changing. This is one of them. To paraphrase Naomi Klein, A (Bio)- Semiotic Theory of Translation may not change everything but it will change a great many things."

He also published an edited volume with the title Translation studies beyond the postcolony (2017) with Ilse Feinauer, and two edited volumes with Reine Meylaerts, namely Complexity thinking in translation studies: Methodological considerations (2018) and Exploring the implications of complexity thinking for translation studies (2021). His research interests are translation theory, complexity thinking, semiotics/biosemiotics and development studies. His work was recognised when he was awarded a B-rating in 2020. Prof Marais is the founding editor of the Journal for Translation Studies in Africa. He won the UFS Book Prize for Distinguished Scholarship for 2020.


Maxim Finkelstein, a Distinguished Professor in the Department of Mathematical Statistics and Actuarial Science, is the only researcher with an A1-rating in South Africa in probability, statistics, and operational research – recognising him as a world leader in his discipline. Prof Finkelstein’s area of expertise is the modelling of random events and quantifying probabilities of their occurrence. He develops advanced models that take into account numerous factors, for example that the object is operating in a random environment, that its structure could change, that there can be human errors affecting the outcome, that the object interacts with other objects, etc. One of his evolving interests is in the area of healthcare engineering, when, for instance, in monitoring the key health parameters of a patient, some optimal cost-wise decisions can be made on preventive treatments and interventions. He is the author of six books and around 250 papers on various aspects of reliability theory. Since September 2021, Prof Finkelstein has also held the position of a Visiting Professor in the Department of Management Science at the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, UK.


Heidi Hudson

Heidi Hudson is a Professor of International Relations. Prof Hudson, who specialises in feminist security studies with a specific focus on Africa, has obtained a B2-rating from the NRF and is an elected member of ASSAf. She serves on several editorial boards, including International Feminist Journal of Politics, Civil WarsRevista Relaciones Internacionales, and Stichproben: Vienna Journal of African Studies. As a former Advisory Board member of the African Peacebuilding Network (APN) of the Social Science Research Council in New York, Prof Hudson regularly mentors APN fellows. She also serves as an Advisory Board member for the African Research Universities Alliance (ARUA) Centre of Excellence for Post-conflict Societies, hosted by the Institute of Peace and Security Studies (IPSS) of the Addis Ababa University. During her career, she has been awarded several fellowships, among others, from the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO), the Nordic Africa Institute, the University of Calgary, and Fulbright. She has published widely in international journals such as International PeacekeepingPeacebuildingSecurity DialogueSecurity Studies, Politics and Gender, and the International Feminist Journal of Politics.

In 2018, she was the Claude Ake Visiting Chair, hosted by the Department of Peace and Conflict Research, Uppsala University, and the Nordic Africa Institute. 


Prof Cynthia Miller Naude and Prof Jacobus

Cynthia Miller-Naudé is a Senior Professor and Head of the Department of Hebrew. A B1-rated scientist, Prof Miller-Naudé specialises in the syntax and pragmatics of Classical Hebrew and the related Northwest Semitic languages. She is particularly interested in moving the field of traditional Semitic philology to an understanding of, and appreciation for, contemporary linguistic approaches to the study of ancient texts.

Miller-Naudé works closely with Prof Jacobus Naudé, who is also a Senior Professor and B-rated scientist in the Department of Hebrew. His research focuses on the linguistics of premodern Hebrew, as well as alterity and orality in religious translation. In his research, he seeks to understand ‘otherness’ of ancient culture and to preserve it while representing it intelligibly for modern users. Prof Miller-Naudé and Prof Naudé are involved in a long-term project on religious translation. In particular, they examine the role of metatexts/paratexts in religious translation and, with Dr Tshokolo Makutoane, a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Hebrew, orality and performance of religious texts. In addition, they are investigating the ways in which ancient Hebrew changed over time by recognising that change occurs in cycles. Through their collective leadership, they have engendered a commitment to the internationalisation of their field, especially throughout Africa. To that end, they are bringing the study of Hebrew to Africa through innovative pedagogical methods that take into account the differing linguistic backgrounds and cultural contexts of African students. They are especially interested in empowering Bible translators on the African continent to gain the competency to translate the Bible from the source texts.


Peter Taylor

Peter Taylor is a Research Professor in the Department of Zoology and Entomology under the Afromontane Research Unit (ARU) on the Qwaqwa Campus. Prof Taylor, a B-rated scientist, is an ecologist, systematist, and conservationist whose research focuses on small mammals – particularly bats and rodents. He has described 17 new species of small mammals and co-authored five scientific books and almost 200 peer-reviewed articles. A former NRF/SARChI Head at the University of Venda (2013-2020), his standing as a researcher was acknowledged by the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf) when he was inaugurated as a member in 2021. In the same year, he was elected a Fellow of the Linnean Society of London, the world’s oldest extant scientific society. He and his research team of students and postdoctoral fellows in the Mountain Bat Lab on the Qwaqwa Campus, have initiated new projects to investigate the ecosystem services provided by bats in natural and agricultural ecosystems in the mountains near Phuthaditjhaba and surrounding farms. They have also embraced an engaged scholarship approach to involve school and farm communities in the research and increase awareness about the importance of protecting nature’s goods and services for a sustainable future in the region. He has supervised 22 MSc and 16 PhD students.

Hussein Solomon

Hussein Solomon, Senior Professor in the Department of Political Studies and Governance, was inaugurated as a new member of ASSAf in 2020. Prof Solomon is an Extraordinary Professor at the North-West University’s School of Government Studies, Visiting Professor at the Osaka School of International Public Policy, Nelson Mandela University, and the Department of Political Science at Stellenbosch University. He is also a Senior Research Associate of the Israeli-based Think Tank for the Research of Islam and Muslims in Africa, a Research Fellow at Niger Delta University, a Senior Analyst for the New York-based Wikistrat, a Research Associate of the Centre for Defence Studies at the University of Zimbabwe, and a Research Associate of the South African Institute of International Affairs. In addition, he is Deputy Chair of the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs (South African chapter), and Vice-President of the African Studies Association of India. He is a member of the International Advisory Boards of the Middle East Institute and the Research Institute for European and American Studies in Athens, a member of the Security Council of the Gerson Lehrman Group of Companies, the International Steering Committee of Global Action to Prevent War, and the International Advisory Council of the Toda Institute for Global Peace and Policy Research in Hawaii, and sits on the Board of Trustees of All Africa Women for Peace. Prof Solomon serves on the editorial boards of a number of journals in various capacities, including Politeia; Globalizations; Southern African Peace and Security Studies; London Security Policy Study; Africa Insight; Afro-Eurasian Journal; African Security; Contemporary Review of the Middle East; Alternatives; Journal of Administrative Science; Afro-Arab Social and Economic Review; Journal of African Union Studies; Politikon; African Journal for the Prevention and Combating of Terrorism; Scientific Journals International; and Insight on Africa. His research interests include security studies, conflict and conflict resolution in Africa, South African foreign policy, international relations theory, religious fundamentalism, the nexus between religion and politics in Africa, and population.

D Codron

Daryl Codron, Associate Professor in the Department of Zoology and Entomology and a B-rated scientist, recognising him as an internationally acclaimed researcher. He leads the Animal Ecology research group, which studies patterns of resource use and how these shape the ecological dynamics and evolutionary adaptations of primarily mammalian faunas. Emphasis is on stable isotope analysis for reconstructing trophic niche dynamics over multiple space and time scales, as well as on the theoretical principles underpinning this approach. Current projects specifically aim to quantify individual- and population-level niche variations, the life history characteristics that constrain these diet niches, and to model the impacts on species’ competitive interactions and coexistence mechanisms. In November 2021, the group published an article in which resource competition was shown to organise coexisting species’ niches into distinct clusters rather than unique units, with the emergence of sizeable gaps in the available niche space. They also provided the first empirical support for the evolution of niche clustering, using the fossil record of the South African central interior. 

Francois Tolmie

Francois Tolmie is Professor of New Testament in the Faculty of Theology and Religion. He is a B-rated researcher, specialising in Johannine literature (in particular, narratological approaches) and Pauline literature (in particular, the rhetorical analysis of the Letter to the Galatians and the Letter to Philemon). With a DTh in New Testament Studies and a PhD in Greek, Prof Tolmie is considered an expert in narratology, rhetorical analysis, and the translation and theology of these New Testament texts. In 2022, the results of several years of focused research on the history of interpretation of the Letter to Philemon were published as an academic book by Mohr Siebeck in Germany, one of the leading international publishers in theology. This work, titled Pointing out Persuasion in Philemon. Fifty Readings of Paul’s Rhetoric from the Fourth to the Eighteenth Century (383 pages), was chosen to launch a new academic series, History of Biblical Exegesis, and is the most comprehensive study of the way in which commentators on the letter interpreted Paul’s rhetoric from the fourth until the eighteenth centuries.


Paul Oberholster, Director of the Centre for Environmental Management, won the NSTF-Water Research Commission (WRC) Award in 2021 for his contribution to water resource management in South Africa over the past five years, with special reference to the field biological passive wastewater treatment. The NSTF-South32 Awards were the first science awards in South Africa, and are the largest, most comprehensive, and sought-after national awards of their kind in the country. The NSTF Awards honour and celebrate outstanding contributions to science, engineering, and technology (SET), and innovation. Prof Oberholster’s research focuses on the use of freshwater algae to treat acid mine drainage or domestic wastewater. Current wastewater solutions take into account sustainable development and the global move towards a more circular use of resources where waste is reduced, and resources are recycled. In this context, he and his research team have undertaken new research at the phycoremediation pilot plant in Mossel Bay on the reuse of domestic wastewater and the use of the algae biomass for biofuel and biofertiliser.



Contact us

Dr Glen Taylor
Senior Director: Research Development
T: +27 51 401 9778
E: TaylorGJ@ufs.ac.za

Lelani Oosthuizen
Senior Officer: Research Outputs Coordinator
T: +27 51 401 3027
E: OosthuizenL@ufs.ac.za

Johannes Brill Building, First Floor, Bloemfontein Campus

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