Dr Robin Drennan, Director of Research Development at Wits, has been awarded by his southern African peers for his contribution to research management. The Southern African Research and Innovation Management Association (SARIMA) gave Drennan the Distinguished Contribution to Research Management Profession Award at the SARIMA 2017 Annual Conference held in Windhoek, Namibia from 22-25 May 2017.
“It is a privilege to work as a research manager at Wits and to contribute to the development of the profession in South Africa. My work involves stewarding research, which often means spending time talking with a range of wonderful academic researchers who do the most amazing things. Their insight and drive to seek out the truth is inspirational and makes it an absolute pleasure to provide them with support and encouragement,” says Drennan.
The award includes a trophy and R30 000 to cover the costs of an international trip to a suitable research management conference.
“I will probably use the prize money to attend the International Network of Research Management Societies Conference [INORMS] in Edinburgh, Scotland from 4-7 June 2018,” says Drennan.
The SARIMA award acknowledges Drennan’s role in the profession of research management. He developed an information and technology communication (ITC) system at Wits for the collection, submission and verification of research publications. This new system enabled collection of 16 percent more publications than its predecessor, thus earning the University R160m.
Drennan is actively involved in the Consortium for the Advancement of Research Training in Africa (CARTA) and has facilitated a dozen international research management training workshops.
He has served on the SARIMA committee for six years and delivered two presentations at the 2017 conference: Does research thrive in a framework of thrusts, or does this throttle growth and impact? and Do research and innovation managers constitute a happy marriage?
Drennan’s contribution to research development is evident in his management and mentorship of 22 members of Wits staff, his support of 50 research managers at Wits, and his mentorship of three peers in other research institutions. Drennan himself holds a PhD in Chemistry from Rhodes University.
“I dedicate this award to the almost 100 people at Wits who also carry out research and innovation management. It is these people and their often hidden contributions that help to grow the University’s research intensity,” he says.