• Prof. Jean-Pierre Ezin
AU Commissioner for Human Resources,
Science and Technology
+251 11 551 7700
Two South African scientists have walked off with top honours at the inaugural African Union Scientific Awards. The awards programme was launched in September 2009, and the laureates were announced earlier in 2010.
Two categories were judged – Life and Earth Sciences, which Eriksson won; and Basic Science, Technology and Innovation, which Hindebrandt won. Each received a prize worth US$100 000 (R731 061).
President Jacob Zuma was quick to applaud the achievement of the two scientists during the awards ceremony, which took place in
“I say with pride that South Africans continue to display excellence in various fields in the international arena,” said the president.
“On behalf of the South African people I wish to congratulate Professor Hildebrandt and Professor Eriksson, and wish them well in their endeavours to make
Hildebrandt, one of
She started her career as a process engineer at
Hildebrandt was the first woman chemical engineer to earn an A rating from the National Research Foundation. A prolific author, she has more than 50 papers to her name.
Winning awards is not a novelty for her – she’s already been honoured with the Vice-Chancellor’s Researcher of the Year Award in 2002; the Bill Neale-May Gold Medal of the South African Institute of Chemical Engineers in 2000; the Meiring Naudé medal of the Royal Society of South Africa in 1997; the Distinguished Researcher Award of the University of the Witwatersrand in 1996; and the President’s Award of the Foundation for Research and Development in 1996 and 2010.
“I’m grateful for the award and look forward to making further contributions to
Eriksson is head of
He lectures in sedimentology and his research focuses on the evolution of Precambrian (sedimentary) basins. He is a member of the New York Academy of Sciences and a Fellow of the Geological Society of Africa, and still finds time to act as editor-in-chief of the Journal of African Earth Sciences.
The National Research Foundation gave him an A research rating in 2007.
Well respected on an international level, he founded the Global Precambrian Sedimentation Syndicate in 1997, an informal working group comprising 16 eminent scientists from South Africa, the US, UK, Germany, Denmark, Finland, Brazil, Australia, and India.
Accepting the AU award, Eriksson paid tribute to his peers on the continent.
Boosting African science
The AU Scientific Awards programme is aimed at inspiring the continent’s best minds to bigger and better achievements, and also celebrates their efforts to boost entrepreneurship in science and research, attract investment into African science, and establish scientific centres of excellence in Africa.
Winners are selected according to several criteria, including the number of publications they have written or co-written, the number of graduate research students they have mentored, and the relevance of their work in tackling the challenges facing the African continent as well as the ease of application.
Besides the AU Science Award, also up for grabs are the AU Young Scientist Award, handed out on a national level to promising researchers under 35 years of age, and the AU Woman Scientist Award, which is region-based. These prizes fall into the same two categories as the main accolade.