Join our exciting speaker line up from 10-12 November 2021 as we explore the topic of the 2nd Postdoctoral Research Conference of Southern Africa as we explore this year’s topic:

Beyond the Pandemic: Research Now and in the Future

Professor Eugene Cloete

Microbiologist and water expert, Prof Cloete is the Vice-Rector: Research and Innovation at Stellenbosch University.

Before taking up this position in September 2012, Prof. Cloete served as the Dean of the Faculty of Science at Stellenbosch University. He is also the Founding Director of the Stellenbosch University Water Institute.

He has promoted more than 100 MSc and PhD students, authored five books, holds 10 patents and has more than 160 scientific publications to his credit.  Prof Cloete also serves on the editorial boards of several journals.  He is a past Vice-President of the International Water Association (IWA) and past Chairman of the IWA Strategic Council and currently an IWA Governing Board member.  He is also a Fellow of the IWA and a Senior Fellow of the Water Institute of SA (WISA).  Prof Cloete was a board member of the South African Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and the Water Research Commission Board.  In 2016 Prof Cloete was appointed by the Minister to serve on the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf) Council.  In 2017 he received the National Science and Technology Forum (NSTF) South 32 award for Research leading to innovation.  He was also selected as one of the Legends of SA Science by ASSAf, during 2017.

Dr Palesa Natasha Mothapo

Is the Head: Postdoctoral Research Support at Stellenbosch University, Division for Research Development. Her primary role is in providing support to postdoctoral research fellows through capacity development initiatives, identifying new funding opportunities and overall support on the processes that influence these emerging researchers within the academic space. She holds a PhD degree in Zoology, and has completed her BScHons and Master’s Degree with Cum-laude, from Stellenbosch University. She is an alumnus of the GreenMatter WWF Nedbank Green Trust Emerging Leaders, was listed on the 2014 Mail and guardian 200 Young South Africans, a lifetime member of the Golden Key International Honour Society, a 2018 Mandela Washington Fellow, and has recently been nominated as InspiringFifty project for 2020. Her academic research focus is on invasive species (mainly ants), biodiversity impacts, control and management, as well as socio-economic and socio-cultural impacts related to policies on the management of invasive species. She is passionate about capacity development in academia, improving research transition from academia to industry, and a focus on improving holistic development of high-end skills graduates (PhDs and Postdocs). Palesa is passionate about young women in STEM and devotes much of her time to mentoring and encouraging young women, particularly in rural and underdeveloped areas, to take part in STEM careers. She is a Mentor for STEMIAfrica and Smart Tribe, with female mentees from 6 African countries. Palesa is also a co-founder of Pen Generation, an NPO focused on raising STEM awareness in disadvantaged communities.

In her recent switch to a career in research management, Palesa serves on the SARIMA (South African Research and Innovation Management Association) committee in the Research Management portfolio. She is the project lead on the BRECCIA (Building research capacity for sustainable water and food security in the drylands of Sub-Saharan Africa) project, coordinated by SARIMA in collaboration with the University of South Hampton (UK), which focuses on individual and institutional capacity to carry out high-end research that impact policy in Africa. She is a member of the Technical Sub-Committee (TSC) for Good Research Management Practice (GRMP) under the African Academy of Sciences (AAS) and the Research Management Programme in Africa (ReMPro Africa).

Dr Therina Theron

Therina Theron is Senior Director: Research and Innovation at Stellenbosch University (SU) since 2008.  She holds a PhD in Medical Biochemistry from SU. Her research management career spans 16 years, during which she was involved in research-related strategic planning, policy formulation and implementation, and the establishment and development of effective research and innovation support systems. She served as lead coordinator of the Strengthening of Research Management (StoRM) Erasmus+ funded project focused on the professionalization and capacity development of RMA professionals in Southern Africa and the EU. She currently serves as President of the Southern African Research and Innovation Management Association (SARIMA).

Professor Sehaam Khan

Professor Sehaam Khan completed a PhD degree in Microbiology (Molecular Virology) in 2002 at the University of the Western Cape, where one year of her research was completed at Wageningen University in the Netherlands. She started her academic journey as a lecturer in 2002 with the then Cape Technicon, now Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) and moved through the ranks to Associate Professor by 2008. From February 2005 to February 2006, she joined the Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology in Singapore, as a post-doctoral fellow, where her research focused on molecular characterisation and expression of genes within severe acute respiratory system, caused by the coronavirus (SARS Co-V). She served as Acting Head of Department for Biomedical Technology at CPUT from June 2014 – June 2015 before taking on the position of Dean of the Faculty of Health and Applied Sciences at the Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST) in 2016. Currently, she holds the position of Executive Dean of Health Sciences at the University of Johannesburg. Her scholarly prowess is demonstrated by her extensive contribution to academia in the areas of teaching and learning, the development of Faculty and institutional policies, guidelines, tools and government plans, and research through her publications of peer reviewed articles, book chapters, scientific papers, conference proceedings and conference outputs and successful supervision of numerous masters and doctoral students. Further to this, Professor Khan serves as a member of various societies for microbiology and virology (the latter more specifically, as the external moderator for Virology, for the Biomedical Technology Board), was a member of the Research and Innovation Committee for the development of Fifth National Development Plan for Namibia and is currently part of the Premier of Gauteng’s Advisory Committee for COVID-19. In addition, her community engagement reflects her passion for her subject matter on a professional level, focusing on engaging with organisations as well as learners at High school level; as well as giving back to society through her outreach programs with disadvantaged children and women.

Dr. Richard Munang

Dr. Richard Munang is currently the Africa Regional Climate Change Coordinator at the UN Environment Programme (UNEP). He is responsible for guiding the implementation of UNEP’s climate resilient development strategy at national and regional levels in a manner that ensures human wellbeing through coordinating implementation of diverse projects in adaptation and mitigation. Dr. Munang experience encompasses a unique blend in programming and policy on regional and global issues of climate change policy, environmental management, sustainable development, clean energy, resource efficiency and food security from the lens of accelerated economic growth. His professional activities include supporting governments, regional institutions and non-state actors with green growth and low-carbon transition, and participatory engagement of multiple stakeholders including the private sector, youth, women and minority groups. He has been involved in enhancing skills retooling of youth through a mentorship tool he founded called Innovative volunteerism which is a structured innovative approach to guide and inspire youth to turn their passion into profits through driving climate action enterprises. He has won many awards including- Africa Green Champion Award 2020, African Environmental Hero Award 2016, UNEP 2016 highest recognition Baobab award for Programme Innovation. With rich knowledge, diversified experience, policy formulation and sustainability of projects amongst others, Dr. Munang have led research programmes and guided several publications to inform Climate Change and development policies at both global and regional levels. He has participated in a wide variety of research projects and have published over 500 articles in both international peer reviewed journal and magazines. Dr. Munang is the author of the book– Making Africa work through the Power of Innovative Volunteerism Dr. Munang holds a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree in Environmental Change and Policy from University of Nottingham, United Kingdom and an Executive Certificate in Climate Change and Energy Policy from Harvard University Kennedy School of Government.

Joel Chigada

Joel Chigada is a Professor of Information Systems in the Department of Information Systems at the University of the Western Cape. Before joining the UWC, Joel was a senior lecturer and Head of Marketing at the University of Cape Town for 4 years. Joel has over 30 years working experience gained in the automotive, telecommunications, aviation, banking and higher education sectors, at middle and senior management levels in Marketing and ICT. 

 Professor Joel Chigada holds a PhD; MBL, UNISA, PhD, Cape Town in Information Systems. His research areas include Information Systems Security; Cybersecurity; Mobile Banking and Digital Marketing Strategies and Knowledge Management.  

Professor Tulio de Oliveira

Prof Tulio de Oliveira is a world-renowned bioinformatician who identified a new variant of COVID-19 in South Africa in December 2020. He is a molecular biologist with a specialisation in drug resistance, phylogenetics, statistical genetics and software development.

Prof Tulio de Oliveira obtained his BSc at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS), Brazil, and his PhD at the Nelson R Mandela School of Medicine, UKZN. He was a Marie Curie Research Fellow at the University of Oxford from 2004 to 2006, and a UK Royal Society Newton Advanced Fellow at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and the University of Edinburgh from 2015 to 2019.

He holds professorships at UKZN (since 2015), is an Associate Professor of Global Health at the University of Washington, Seattle, United States of America and is a Research Associate at the Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa (CAPRISA).

In 2021 Prof De Oliveira accepted an appointment at Stellenbosch University where he is appointed in the School for Data Science & Computational Thinking, the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences and the Faculty of Science. He is to set up a new institute, “The Centre for Epidemic Response and Innovation in Africa” at Stellenbosch University (SU) aimed at understanding and controlling epidemics and pandemics in Africa and the global south.

Professor De Oliveira and his team regularly publish in top scientific journals and are widely cited. He has authorised over 200 publications, many of these in Science, Nature and Lancet journals. His H-index is 52.

Professor Stephanie Burton

Professor Stephanie Burton is Professor in Biochemistry, and a professor at Future Africa at the University of Pretoria (UP), as well as the immediate past Vice-Principal for Research and Postgraduate Education at UP, having served in that role from 2011 to 2020.

Professor Burton is the President and a Fellow of the Royal Society of South Africa (RSSA), Vice-President of the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf), a Research Fellow for Universities South Africa (USAf), and the Chairperson of the Future Earth Regional Office for Southern Africa (FEROSA).  She holds an MSc in Organic Chemistry (1990) and a PhD in Biochemistry (1994) from Rhodes University.  Her academic career started in Biochemistry and Biotechnology at Rhodes University, and then as a Professor in Chemical Engineering at the University of Cape Town. She served as Director of Postgraduate Studies and Director of the Biocatalysis and Technical Biology Group at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology before her appointment to the UP Executive.  Her research interests are in sustainability, applied biochemistry and biotechnology, and she has published widely and supervised numerous postgraduate students.

Professor Burton has a strong interest in research ethics and integrity and recently has given numerous colloquia in this topical area. She is recognised for her leadership and expertise in research strategy, research management, and performance, postgraduate training, innovation activities, open science and science communication initiatives, and internationalisation programmes.   She is currently coordinating national projects on mentoring and capacity development for early career academics, on behalf of USAf. She serves on several national and international bodies related to research and doctoral training.  


We invite you to engage with us at our virtual conference to share your research, network and build a future for postdoctoral research fellow in Southern Africa.

Contact details

+27 82 414 4378

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Postdoctoral Research Support Office, Division for Research Development, Stellenbosch University, Private Bag X1, Matieland, 7602

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