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…

Jonathan Jansen: the talented transformer

Professor Jonathan Jansen doesn’t enjoy being in the media limelight. “I used to, but now I think it’s a drag,” says the former Vice-Chancellor of the University of the Free State (UFS). The reason, he says, is that journalists often get the story wrong, and the wrong idea about him. “They see me as this…

Jan-Hendrik Hofmeyr: a biochemist who believes perceptions can be shifted

In academia, change often happens slowly. Academics are born into a paradigm and, more often than not, they maintain that paradigm rather than interrogating and critiquing it. It is rare to find a researcher who is willing, much less eager, to look outside of his or her field and recognise when a paradigm can be…

It’s about the people for climate change scientist Jessica Thorn

  Dr Jessica Thorn was recently announced as part of the first three Women in Climate Change Science Fellows, an initiative of the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences – Next Einstein Initiative (AIMS-NEI). She will be hosted by the African Climate and Development Initiative (ACDI) at the University of Cape Town in South Africa but…

[LISTEN] What do you know about the shot hole borer?

This week’s The Science Inside radio show tells the story of a tiny beetle that is threatening Johannesburg’s trees. Hear from the people working on this, Prof Wilhelm de Beer and Neil Hill. In Unscience we find out how a bug might be the answer to the world’s plastic problem. Prof Mandeep Kaur explains how she…

Bone accountancy

As part of her PhD in Anatomy, Mandi Alblas regularly visits Stellenbosch University’s Kirsten Skeletal Collection. Like an accountant she packs out, photographs and tallies each of 206 bones in each of the 700 skeletons included in her study – 144 200 bones in all.    There’s something moving about the way that Mandi Alblas switches between…

David Glasser: working towards economic benefits

On 29 September 1936, David Glasser was born in Alexandria in the Eastern Cape. A strong scholar, he was placed in St Andrews School in Bloemfontein for his primary education, going on to complete his secondary schooling at Grey High School in Port Elizabeth. Matriculating first class in 1954, Glasser was placed fifth in the…