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Wits neuropsychologist awarded prestigious global scholarship

- Wits University

Dr Sahba Besharati in the Department of Psychology is one of just 19 CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholars, a programme that supports early-career researchers.

Dr Sahba Besharati was named a CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholar in May 2021s

CIFAR (pronounced “see-far”) is the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, established some 40 years ago at the University of Toronto, Canada.  

The CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholars programme supports outstanding early-career researchers through mentorship, a global network, professional skills development, and $100,000 in unrestricted research support for two years. The Azrieli Foundation funds the scholarship.

The scholars join CIFAR Research programmes for two years, collaborating with fellows and contributing new approaches toward the most important questions facing science and humanity.

Besharati joins the 2021-2023 cohort of leading early-career researchers from joining six research programmes. She is one of three researchers awarded the scholarship in the Brain, Mind & Consciousness programme.

“My research addresses the question of how we become aware of ourselves and others in the world, and how our environment influences this construction of the self,” she says.

Besharati is a neuropsychologist and Senior Lecturer in cognitive neuroscience in the Department of PsychologySchool of Human and Community Development at Wits. She completed a collaborative PhD in neuropsychology at Kings College London and the University of Cape Town, having previously trained in psychological research and clinical neuropsychology.

Besharati’s research specialises in the area of human social – cognitive – affective neuroscience. Her research integrates neuroimaging, neuropsychological and experimental methods to investigate self-consciousness, and social cognition.

Dr Sahba Besharati in the Wits Department of Psychology is one of just 19 CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholars a programme that supports early career researchers

Besharati’s fellow global scholars in the CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholars Brain, Mind & Consciousness programme include Michael Cohen of Amherst College, USA, whose research focuses on understanding the limits of visual perception, memory, and awareness, and Adeel Razi, from Monash University, Australia, whose cross-disciplinary approach combines engineering, physics, and machine learning to answer questions in neurobiology. 

This year’s diverse cohort of scholars was chosen from more than 300 qualified applicants. The 19 CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholars represent eight countries: Australia, Canada, Chile, China, France, the UK, the USA, and South Africa.

Nine of the researchers identify as women, and 10 identify as men. The scholars will contribute to six CIFAR research programmes:

  1. Boundaries, Membership & Belonging
  2. Brain, Mind & Consciousness
  3. Earth 4D: Subsurface Science & Exploration
  4. Fungal Kingdom: Threats & Opportunities
  5. Humans & the Microbiome
  6. Innovation, Equity & the Future of Prosperity.