Distinguished Professor Tebello Nyokong of Rhodes University was awarded an African Union Kwame Nkrumah Scientific Award (AUKNSA) on Saturday, 30 January 2016. Prof. Nyokong received the Continental Award, consisting of US $100 000, at the African Union Headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
The African Union Commission decided to establish the “African Union Scientific Awards (AUSA)” in 2008 – later renamed the AUKNSA in 2010 – to award and honour outstanding African scientists for their discoveries and achievements, with a focus on promoting scientific development in Africa through recognising excellence among African scientists.
Prof. Nyokong’s outstanding contribution to science is clear. Rhodes boast Prof. Nyokong’s outputs are amongst the highest of any individual on the continent, with her contribution to the scholarly reputation of Africa being immense. Prof. Nyokong has undertaken formal international collaborations with counterparts in Belgium, Chile, China, France, Germany, Japan, and Russia.
Prof. Nyokong’s research focuses primarily on areas of economic and social importance to Africa; with her current focus on the fields of cancer research and nanotechnology.
Within the field of cancer research Prof. Nyokong is currently engaged in research on a new ‘diagnosis and treatment methodology’ called “photodynamic therapy”, an intended alternative to chemotherapy, in which dye is used to identify and target cancer cells.
Prof. Nyokong’s contribution towards the field of nanotechnology is seen through her establishment of a facility at Rhodes, containing a large number of state of the art equipment for nanotechnology; able through collaboration with the Department of Science and Technology and Mintek. This facility has been noted with attracting the interest of the European Union, in collaboration with European countries such as Belgium and Greece through the Marie Curie Actions Program.
Prof. Nyokong has received numerous awards throughout her career: the L’Oreal/UNESCO Laureate in 2009 for Africa and Arab States; induction into the Vodacom Lesotho Hall of Fame in 2010; the Distinguished Woman in Chemistry award in 2011 by the Royal Society of Chemistry and the Pan African Chemistry Network; and an Adjunct Professorship by the University of Tromso, Norway.
In regards to how she felt about receiving this award, Prof. Nyokong said:
“To be recognized by the African Union (AU) is an honour. The award ceremony will be during the opening session of the AU Summit, where African heads of state will be present. It is an honour to receive an award in front of all of them. The award also shows the world that African Science is at the forefront.”
Prof. Nyokong went on to say the award has confirmed the high standard of the research done at Rhodes, clear in her internationation recognition.
By David Richardson