Stellenbosch University researcher awarded top international prize

Alanna Rebelo, a Stellenbosch University (SU) Master’s student, is one of three South African researchers who have been awarded the renowned “Green Talents” sustainability prize in Berlin.

Here is Thomas Rachel with Alanna Jane Rebelo.

The international sustainability competition, launched by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), is aimed at exceptional young scientists active in the field of sustainable development. This is the third time that the BMBF had organised this competition. A total of 20 young researchers were distinguished as Green Talents this year.

Stellenbosch University’s Rebelo was recognised for her interdisciplinary research work in which she is seeking solutions towards the preservation of biological diversity in the face of global development. She believes that interdisciplinary research in science and technology is the best hope for improving the efficiency of global resource use, most importantly that of energy and water. Towards that end, she is combining several disciplines as part of her studies. These include hydrology, ecology and sociology, and she is collaborating with economists.

The other South African winners are Dr Dyllon Garth Randall and Dr Owen Horwood. Randall is examining potential ways of processing wastewater from mines. Horwood in turn impressed the jury with his significant expertise in the field of water management and by his publications on the subject.

A total of 331 young researchers from 58 different countries entered this year. A jury made up of high-ranking German experts selected the winners. The jury sought out research projects that have the potential to contend with global threats such as global warming, energy shortages and massive environmental contamination. The new Green Talents bring the number of young sustainability researchers in the BMBF’s global network up to 55 award-winners from 19 different countries.

A total of 21 South African scientists applied for the 2011 competition. The three new award-winners bring the total number of Green Talents from South Africa up to six. Over the coming year the prize-winners will be able to stay in Germany for several months for research purposes, the intention being to deepen a global exchange in sustainability research.