Prof Trefor Jenkins: a good man in Africa

When the Ford Foundation and the Oppenheimer Family Trust agreed, in 2004, to make a joint Endowment Grant to the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) to found the Institute for Human Evolution (now transformed into the Evolutionary Studies Institute) the university set about finding a suitable Director for the institute. When the selected candidate (Dr…

Diane Hildebrandt: research for improving lives

Diane Hildebrandt was born in Chingola, Zambia and came to South Africa in 1968. Her childhood was spent mostly in Rustenburg, where she completed primary school at Fields Primary School. She undertook her highschool education at Grenville High, the only government high school for English-speakers in Rustenburg at the time. The core of her matric…

Glenda Gray: guided by the needs

The road to Kliptown runs more-or-less directly south-west from the centre of Johannesburg, past the core of Soweto, and then takes a sharp turn to the right through Eldorado Park towards the bleak Walter Sisulu Memorial Square. Here, the Kliptown Perinatal HIV Research Unit (PHRU) is located, where one of Prof Glenda Gray’s many offices…

George Ellis: the down-to-earth cosmologist

For somebody who has spent much of his time thinking about the structure of the universe, Professor George Ellis is remarkably down-to-earth. Over the past half-century his work has not only probed the nature of space-time, but his knowledge of mathematics has helped solve crises facing South Africa, such as providing housing for the poor.…

George Ekama: saving SA precious water

Clean water is a basic human requirement, but in an arid country like South Africa keeping it flowing, can be a challenge. Professor George Ekama has made it his life’s work to keep the country’s taps running and clean. From tackling algal blooms in dams and rivers by preventing pollution from municipal and industrial wastewater…