The highlight for the Department of Chemistry in 2009 was the award of the L’ORÉAL-UNESCO Award for Women in Science to Professor Tebello Nyokong. This is an outstanding achievement as each year only one laureate is selected by a panel of former Nobel prize winners from five world regions. Professor Nyokong was the 2009 laureate for Africa and the Arab states and received her award at a function held in Paris in April, attended by the Vice Chancellor and dignitaries from the South African Embassy in France. In August 2009 Professor Nyokong also received “Champion for the transformation in research” President’s award from the National Research Foundation for her “extraordinary contribution to the development of science in South Africa,” for which Motion of Congratulations was passed by the National Assembly and she was subsequently invited to address the Parliament Portfolio Committee for Science. Nyokong was also Awarded 2009 CEO (Celebrating excellence in organizations) award for the Most Influential Women in Business and Government– Education and Teaching Sector and she was also elected Fellow of Third World Academy of Science. Professor Nelson Torto received the 2009 American Chemical Society Division of Analytical Chemistry Award for Young Investigators in Separation Science at the Pittcon conference in Chicago. Professor Davies-Coleman was inducted as a Fellow of the Royal Society of South Africa in 2009.
The DST-Mintek Nanotechnology Innovation Centre (Sensors) under the direction of Professor Tebello Nyokong continues to grow and international visitors to the Centre and Department included Professor Kobayashi, Dr Shimuzu and Dr Mack from Japan, Professor Stillman from Canada, Professor Norman and Dr Ashworth from the UK, Drs Bedioui and Griveau from France, Dr Shaibu from Nigeria, Professors Stenken and Simoyi from the USA, and Professor Schlettwein from Germany. Professor Derck Schlettwein also delivered the 2009 Barker Lecture entitled “Capturing solar energy”. In addition three post-graduate students from France and Germany had the opportunity to carry out collaborative research in laboratories in the Centre at Rhodes. New research equipment commissioned into the DST-Mintek Nanotechnology Innovation Centre includes an X-ray powder diffractometer while the Department was the recipient of two new infra red and one UV spectrometers.
Postgraduate research remained the mainstay of our Department in 2009 with the largest cohort of 69 post-doctoral PhD, MSc and Honours students ever registered in the Department working in a variety of fields including electrochemistry, photochemistry, nanotechnology, inorganic and organic synthesis, analytical and marine natural product chemistry. Two PhD and three MSc chemistry graduands received their degrees at the April Graduation ceremony. The Department continued to celebrate the diversity of its post-graduate student body which originates from all corners of our continent including Botswana, Ghana, Lesotho, Namibia, Nigeria and Zimbabwe and even further afield e.g. Turkey and New Zealand. Six of our post-graduate students had the opportunity to carry out collaborative research in laboratories in France, Germany, Japan Sweden, and the USA. During 2009 staff and post graduate students also attended and contributed to the proceedings at numerous national and international conferences.
PROFESSOR MICHAEL DAVIES-COLEMAN