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Distinguished Research awardees announced

Date Released: Wed, 28 November 2018 15:59 +0200

Associate Professors Caroline Khene and Brett Pletschke have been announced as the winners of the 2018 Vice-Chancellor’s Research Award.  

The award is to stimulate research and research related scholarly activities and to recognise an exceptional young staff member engaged in research and more general scholarly activity.

The staff members must have made exceptional progress in their research careers during their period at Rhodes University. They shall be of exceptional quality in relation to peers at their stage of career and proven achievement with standing records of scholarships.

Professor Pletschke, an Associate Professor at the Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology, received the 2018 Vice-Chancellor’s Distinguished Senior Research Award. In 1996, he was awarded his PhD in Biochemistry at the then University of Port Elizabeth, specialising in the fields of enzymology and protein chemistry. He joined Rhodes University in 2000 as a Research Lecturer.

Between 2010 and 2012, he served as the President of the South African Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (SASBMB).

Prof Pletschke’s research interest is in the area of Enzymes, Enzyme Inhibitors and the Bioeconomy:    Mannanases and the enhanced production of prebiotic manno-oligosaccharides (MOS); Seaweed-derived anti-diabetic, anti-obesity and anti-cancer fucoidans and Non-starch polysaccharides (NSPs) in animal feeds.

Prof Pletschke was recently elected Fellow of the African Academy of Sciences, and he will be inducted as a Fellow at the General Assembly in Pretoria in December.

The Vice-Chancellor’s Distinguished Research Award was presented to Prof Khene, an Associate Professor and an IS Masters and PhD manager at the Information Systems Department. Prof Khene holds a PhD in Information Systems from Rhodes University titled “Development and Implementation of an Evaluation Framework for Rural Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Projects in Developing Countries: An Exploration of the Siyakhula Living Lab, South Africa”.

Her research interests are in the areas of ICT for Development (ICTD); Project Evaluation; Requirements Elicitation; Project Management; Water Security and Sustainability in Rural Areas;    Transdisciplinarity; Living Labs and Research Supervision and Teaching in Developing Countries.

Prof Khene is the Co-Director of MobiSAM (Mobile Social Accountability Monitoring), a project that uses mobile technology to support two-way communication between citizens and government, on basic service delivery issues.

The awards will be presented at the 2019 graduation ceremonies. Prof Pletschke and Prof Khene will also be invited to give a public lecture on their work as academic teachers during the course of the 2019 year.