women in science

Author: Alec Basson

Two eminent women scientists at Stellenbosch University (SU) were honoured with the Department of Science and Technology’s (DST) Women in Science Awards in Johannesburg on Thursday (13 August 2015).

Prof Nulda Beyers, a senior specialist and professor in the Department of Paediatrics and Child Health and Director of the Desmond Tutu TB Centre (DTTC) in the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences (FMHS), was the first runner-up in the category: Distinguished Women Researchers.

Dr Wesaal Khan of the Department of Microbiology in the Faculty of Science finished second in the category: Distinguished Young Women Researchers.

The Women in Science Awards are held annually to encourage and reward women scientists, and researchers, and also to profile them as role models for younger women. The theme for this year’s Awards was “Science for a sustainable future”.

Prof Beyers, a distinguished professor at the FMHS, is internationally recognised and revered for her exceptional work in TB and HIV research, in particular for her efforts to find novel strategies to reduce TB and HIV. She is sixth on the Thompson Reuters Ranking, placing her among the top 10 most influential TB researchers in the world.

A prolific writer, Beyers authored and co-authored 211 peer-reviewed articles and contributed to 8 books and 217 presentations at national and international conferences. She has also supervised a number of master’s and doctoral students.

Prof Nico Gey van Pittius, Vice-Dean: Research at the FMHS congratulated Beyers and said she is one of the Faculty’s top clinician researchers.

“Under Prof Beyers’s directorship, the childhood tuberculosis research division of the DTTC became internationally recognised for its contribution to the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of childhood tuberculosis and is largely credited for developing the scientific basis for the management of the disease, informing policy at the highest level and making a significant impact on the lives of countless children worldwide.”

Dr Wesaal Khan, a microbiologist, has received national and international acclaim for her outstanding research outputs on water. Through her work, she continuously tries to find Millennium Development Goals solutions for South Africa and the Southern African Development Community. Considered one of the best lecturers in the Department of Microbiology, Khan has supervised many postgraduate students.

Reflecting on the 2015 Women in Science Awards, Khan said it was a wonderful event celebrating exceptional women scientists. “It was truly an honour to be in the company of these recognised leaders in science.” She expressed her gratitude to the Department of Microbiology for nominating her.

Finalists for this year’s awards competed in four categories, namely Distinguished Women Researchers, Distinguished Young Women Researchers, DST Fellowships (master’s students and doctoral students) as well as the TATA Africa Scholarships for five master’s and doctoral students.

Photo: Prof Nulda Beyers and Dr Wesaal Khan

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