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Wits awards 29 Centennial Postdoctoral Fellowships

- Wits University

The University has invested R9-million in postdoctoral fellowships to advance its innovation and internationalisation strategies and its research agenda.

Twenty-nine Centennial Postdoctoral Fellowships were offered and accepted in the first quarter of 2023 shortly after Wits University turned 100 last year.

The prestigious two-year Fellowships aim to attract postdoctoral scholars to Wits to both contribute to research output as well as add to the critical mass of Wits academics conducting research, for good.

“Centennial Postdoctoral Fellows are independent researchers who will be hosted by academics in Faculties and Schools across the University,” says Dr Robin Drennan, Director of Research Development at Wits.

The Fellowships are awarded in three modes – ‘sandwich’, industry, or conventional fellowships – all of which require that applicants hold a PhD completed in the last five years.

The ‘sandwich’ fellowship mode enables academics to split their postdoc fellowship between Wits and selected international universities. The ‘sandwich’ fellowship advances Wits’ internationalisation strategy to recruit outstanding academics globally.

Industry fellowships are with Johannesburg-based tech firms hosted by a Wits academic and focused on innovation. These fellowships support the University’s newly established Wits Innovation Centre (WIC), the mission of which is to meet society’s needs by turning knowledge into impactful solutions.

Conventional fellowships entail working with a Wits host on a multidisciplinary research project.

“Aside from a completed PhD, assessment criteria to select the Centennial Postdoctoral Fellows include the quality of publications arising from their PhD research, the impact and feasibility of the applicant’s proposal with a focus on multidisciplinary research, and the support of the Wits host,” says Drennan.

The Centennial Postdoctoral Fellowships are valued at a stipend of R300 000 per annum each, including comprehensive medical aid, contributions to relocation and research costs, and access to an excellent academic development programme, with seed funding.

Applicants' proposals had to address Wits’ research priority areas, which address, broadly: the Sustainable Development Goals; digital transformation; better health; solving global challenges; advancing society; governance and justice; futureproofing our national treasures; and transdisciplinary research

The Centennial Postdoctoral Fellows take up their posts in April 2023. Of the 29 Fellowships awarded, seven are in the Faculty of Commerce, Law and Management; four are in the Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment; five are in the Faculty of Health Sciences; seven in the Faculty of Humanities; and six are in the Faculty of Science:

The 2023 Wits Centennial Postdoctoral Fellows are:

Faculty of Commerce, Law, and Management 

Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment 

  • Dr Momboyo Apua, School of Chemical and Metallurgical Engineering, hosted by Prof. Samson Bada
  • Dr Martin Bernert, School of Molecular and Cell Biology, hosted by Dr Eloise Van Der Merwe)
  • Dr Januario Da Costa Hossi, School of Chemical and Metallurgical Engineering, hosted by Associate Prof. Kevin Harding
  • Dr Priscila Izar, School of Architecture and Planning, hosted by Prof. Sarah Charlton
  • Dr Emmanuel Oke, School of Chemical and Metallurgical Engineering, hosted by Prof. Herman Potgieter
  • Dr Christopher Onyeneke*, School of Architecture and Planning, hosted by Dr Tsepang Leuta.

Faculty of Health Sciences

  • Dr Ashleigh Donaldson, School of Physiology, hosted by Personal Professor Andrea Fuller (Brain Function Research Unit)
  • Dr Mizan Ferreira, School of Molecular and Cell Biology, hosted by Prof. Marianne Cronje
  • Dr Emmanuel Iwuchukwu, School of Molecular and Cell Biology, hosted by Dr Ikechukwu Achilonu
  • Dr Nebechukwu Ugwu, School of Public Health, hosted by Prof. Clifford Odimegwu

Faculty of Humanities

  • Dr Michael Braun, School of Social Sciences), hosted by Prof. Joel Quirk (Political Studies)
  • Dr Siobhan De Lange, School of Human and Community Development, hosted by Associate Professor Jennifer Watermeyer (Speech Pathology & Audiology)
  • Dr Halim Gencoglu, School of Social Sciences, hosted by Dr Ayesha Omar (Political Studies)
  • Dr Lionel King, African Centre for the Study of the US, hosted by Dr Bob Wekesa
  • Dr Job Mwaura, School of Literature, Language and Media, hosted by Dr Dinesh Balliah (Journalism and Media Studies)
  • Dr Renzo Orozco, Wits School of Arts, hosted by Associate Prof. Christo Doherty
  • Dr Vincent Siwawa, School of Social Sciences, Prof. Vishwas Satgar (International Relations)

Faculty of Science

  • Dr Willem Kruger, School of Geosciences, hosted by Prof. Rais Latypov
  • Dr Tinotenda Mangadze, School of Geography, Archaeology, and Environmental Studies (GAES), hosted by Associate Prof. Elhadi Adam
  • Dr Rosa Moll, Evolutionary Studies Institute, hosted by Prof. Lyn Wadley
  • Dr Othmane Mouane, School of Physics, hosted by Prof. Elias Sideras-Haddad
  • Dr Tatenda Nyenda, School of Animal, Plant and Environmental Sciences (APES), hosted by Prof. Ed Witkowski
  • Rebecca Oyerinde, School of Animal, Plant and Environmental Sciences (APES), hosted by Dr Ida Risenga

*This story was updated on 10 May 2023 to include Dr Christopher Onyeneke who had accepted the offer after publication. He brings to 30 the total number of Centennial Postdoctoral Scholars from the 29 mentioned in the headline and in this article originally on 14 March 2023.