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Alumni achievers


  • Prof Gavin Norton (BSc 1982, MBBCh 1986, PhD 1993) is to receive the Gold Scientific Achievement Award from the South African Medical Research Council, for his contribution to raising the profile of science in South Africa. Prof Norton is Director of the Cardiovascular Pathophysiology and Genomics Research Unit in the School of Physiology, Faculty of Health Sciences. The unit studies heart failure, hypertension and the effects of exercise on the heart. 
  • Prof Jyoti Mistry (BA 1994, BA Hons 1995, MA 2011) received the International Association of Film and Television Schools 2016 Teaching Award.
  • Dr Musa Manzi (BSc 2008, BSc Hons 2009, PhD 2013) has won the American Geophysical Union’s Africa Award for Research Excellence in Earth and Ocean Science. He will be making an invited presentation in the ‘New Generation of Scientists’ session at the AGU conference in December. His work on 3D seismic reflection data from the Wits Basin has contributed to mine safety and resource evaluation.
  • Michelle Low (BSc Eng 2008) has been nominated for the international IChemE Young Engineer of the Year award. These awards celebrate excellence, innovation and achievement in the chemical, biochemical and process industries. 
  • Dr Michelle Groome (MBBCh 1997, MSc Med 2010, PhD 2016) has been chosen to receive support from the National Institutes of Health, the US medical research agency. The research and mentoring support is offered through a new NIH programme, the Fogarty Emerging Global Leader Award, specifically for junior researchers in low- and middle-income countries. Dr Groome has been working on vaccination for rotavirus diarrhoea in children and will expand her research to include other important enteric pathogens and groups at risk for diarrhoea, such as the elderly and HIV-infected adults. She is currently in Wits’ Respiratory and Meningeal Pathogens Research Unit.
  • Dr Mags Beksinska (PhD 2010) and Professor Jennifer Smit from the Maternal, Adolescent and Child Health Research Unit were awarded the DREAMS Innovation Challenge by the United States Agency for International Development/Gates Foundation.  The partnership supports adolescent girls and young women to become Determined, Resilient, Empowered, AIDS-free, Mentored, and Safe.
  • Takalani Netshitenzhe (LLB 1995, HDipCoLaw 1996) has been appointed Vodacom’s chief officer of corporate affairs.
  • Prof Nosipho Moloto (PhD 2011) from the Wits School of Chemistry is a co-winner of the NRF Research Excellence Award for Early Career/Emerging Researchers. Her research involves semiconductor nanostructures and their application in solar cells, gas sensors and as biolabels for early diagnosis of diseases.
  • Among the candidates interviewed for the position of Public Protector were two Wits alumnae, Sharise Weiner (BA 1976, LLB 1977) and Muvhango Lukhaimane (MBA 2013). The outgoing Public Protector, Thuli Madonsela (LLB 1991), is also a Witsie.
  • Dr Vernon Neppe (MBBCh 1973, Diploma in Psychological Medicine 1976, MMed 1979, PhD 1981) received the 2016 Whiting Memorial Award of the International Society for Philosophical Enquiry for “expanding boundaries of scientific understanding”. Dr Neppe is seen as a pioneer in neuropsychiatry, psychopharmacology and psychiatry.
  • Firms led by Krynauw Nel (BArch 1989) and Kate Otten (BArch 1987) received Corobrik/SAIA awards for the design of the Malapa Fossil Cave and Visitors’ Platform and for the Wits Rural Facility Training and Research Centre respectively.
  • Frank Talbot (BSc 1950) received the Australian Museum Research Institute’s lifetime achievement award