Prof Wieland Gevers: Institution builder of note

    Prof Wieland Gevers: Institution builder of note   In 1970, a 32-year-old Wieland Gevers faced a big decision: To stay in North America, taking up a prestigious tenured Associate Professorship at the leading Canadian university, or to return to his native South Africa. The Canadian job involved setting up a research laboratory in…

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.…

Paul Cilliers understood the nature of complexities

Paul Cilliers passed away in 2011 leaving behind his family, friends and colleagues, and an impressive body of work on the topic of complexity. It is hard to grasp his essence without the help of an interview, but the assistance of documents authored by Cilliers (and authored by others about Cilliers) allowed for a picture…

The doyenne of seeds: Patricia Berjak

Professor Patricia Berjak was born in Johannesburg on 29 December 1939. After attaining her BSc (Hons) cum laude in biochemistry from the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) in 1962, Berjak moved to Natal, where she spent a year as a teacher before taking up a post at the University of Natal, now known as the…

Quarraisha Abdool Karim: protecting women against HIV

Few AIDS researchers have done as much to help the plight of poor, rural women in South Africa as Quarraisha Abdool Karim. This is her story, as published in the Academy of Science of South Africa’s book “Legends of South African Science“. It is part of a series of profiles about leading South Africans that…