Prof Limson a WISA finalist

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Professor Janice Limson, of the Department of Biochemistry, Microbiology and Biotechnology at Rhodes has been announced as a finalist in the 2011 South African Women in Science Awards (WISA).

The WISA are presented by the Department of Science and Technology (DST), and have a two-fold aim: firstly, to profile women scientists and researchers as role models for younger scientists and researchers; and, secondly, to encourage and reward younger women who are starting their careers as emerging researchers and scientists.

Nominated in the category 'Distinguished Young Woman in the Life, Natural and Engineering Sciences', Prof Limson will hear at the Gala Dinner on 19th August whether she is the successful finalist. Already, however, she is gratified at her nomination, and adds “It was an unexpected surprise to have been selected as a finalist. To be associated in this way with the Women in Science Awards is such an honour.”

The theme for the 2011 Women in Sciences Awards is “Promoting Women’s Access and Excellence in Research and Innovation Careers” which is in line with the priority theme of the 55th session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, namely “Access and participation of women and girls in education, training, science and technology, including for the promotion of women’s equal access to full employment and decent work”. 

Professor Limson is a woman scientist engaged in truly innovative research. Working at the interface of nanotechnology, biology and chemistry, in the field of Biotechnology, her passion lies in the design and development of biosensors, which can be engineered to detect diseases such as cancer and malaria in their very early stages.

Biosensors can also be used to monitor toxic environmental pollutants and to identify beneficial compounds in plants. Prof Limson's research in this area has identified new pathways by which the human brain protects itself from disease. Her role as mentor is well-established; her research group is currently 10 strong and includes a post-doctoral fellow. She has also supervised (or co-supervised) four PhD and nine MSc graduates.

An indefatigable champion for the promotion of science within South Africa, Prof Limson is the founder and editor-in-chief of 'Science in Africa', a web-based magazine for which she was awarded a National Science and Technology Forum Award in 2002. She was the recipient of the Rhodes University Vice-Chancellor's Distinguished Research Award in 2010, and was awarded the 2006 Amnesty International Rhodes Women of the Year Award for Research.

Prof Limson currently serves on the boards of three commercial companies within South Africa's growing biotechnology sector, and acts in an advisory capacity to certain DST biotechnology strategy initiatives. Nominated for the Women in Science Award by Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Research & Development, Dr Peter Clayton, her referees describe her as “a dedicated and high achieving academic”; as having established “an excellent research publication track record” relatively early in her academic career; and as being “clearly on an upward trajectory”.

Story by Jeannie McKeowin