Empowering research frontiers

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]To raise new scientific questions, investigate new possibilities and consider old scientific challenges from a new angle, require creative imagination and mark real advance in science and research.

Five women research professors from the University of Johannesburg (UJ) are typical examples of individuals who push the boundaries of discovery and progress in science and technology by undertaking frontier research. They are part of the South African Research Chairs Initiative (SARChI), recently announced by the Minister of Science and Technology, Naledi Pandor that saw 42 new women research professors at universities across the country introduced into the SARChI programme. The initiative highlights the transformation growth that shapes the future of the South African research sphere and the UJ professors are Elizabeth Henning, Heidi Abrahamse, Leila Patel, Fiona Tregenna and Brenda Schmahmann.

Prof Elizabeth Henning (Faculty of Education​, UJ) has long been advocating mathematics and science interventions in primary schools. She has also emphasised that language and literacy are key to learning across the curriculum. Under SARChI, the Chair in Integrated Studies of Learning Language, Mathematics and Science in the Primary School, aims to shed light on children’s development of mathematics and science concepts, using English as language of the discourse of texts in the later grades of the primary school.

Prof Heidi Abrahamse’s (Faculty of Health Sciences​, UJ) name has been associated with cancer therapy, stem cell differentiation and wound healing. South Africa is faced with ailment, with the non-communicable diseases coming to the fore as challenges to morbidity and mortality. In this grouping South Africans are especially vulnerable to diabetes and cancers. As the Chair in Laser Applications in Health, Prof Heidi Abrahamse will align the areas of importance identified by government and will contribute by introducing both preventative modalities and treatment modalities associated with two of the main non-communicable diseases.

Prof Leila Patel (Faculty of Humanities​, UJ) has a wealth of research experience in social welfare, social policy and social work. With her appointment as Chair in Welfare and Social Development, she aims to build on research strengths of the University’s Centre for Social Development in Africa which are, inter alia: poverty and vulnerability with the focus on women, children, youth, and people with physical and mental disabilities.

Through the Chair in South African Art and Visual Culture, Prof Brenda Schmahmann (Faculty of Art Design and Architecture​, UJ) is set to create a forum for producing research and enabling capacities which have enormous importance to the heritage and museum sectors, to arts management, to the gallery sector, to the education sector, and which complements and provide invaluable support to the work of art and design practitioners.

The Chair in Industrial Development will drive a national research programme on industrial development, contributing to policy-relevant knowledge creation. As the Chair, Prof Fiona Tregenna (Faculty of Economic and Financial Sciences, UJ) is likely to drive research makes a valuable contribution to the importance of different sectors. These could include: industrial policy, deindustrialisation, industrial development and income distribution, employment creation through industrial development, the services sector, and industrialisation in the Southern African region.

The new distinguished research chairs take the number of chairs that UJ now hold to 12 and will, with no doubt, further elevate the University’s research capabilities, output and global impact.

Prof Elizabeth Henning Large
Prof Elizabeth Henning.


Prof Heidi Abrahamse
Prof Heidi Abrahamse



Prof Brenda Schmahmann Fada
Prof Brenda Schmahmann


Uj’s Prof Fiona Tregenna One Of Few Economists To Receive Nrf
Prof Fiona Tregenna.


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