Research activity is prioritised by the School. It's committed to providing the resources needed for its staff and students to deliver cutting-edge research.
The School continues to move towards its overall research strategy. This strategy is dependant upon:
- Increasing the quality of outputs
- Facilitating the establishment and consolidation of areas of research strength
- Identifying sources of project funding external to those conventionally tapped from within the University
WITS Neuroscience Research Lab (Wits Neurl)
The WITS Neuroscience Research Lab (NeuRL) is a space designed to facilitate cross-disciplinary collaboration, enhance and contextualise theory, and augment and support effective practice and research in the field of neuroscience in the South African context. Wits NeuRL represents both a physical space where innovative research is carried out using a range of methodologies, as well as a group of academics with varied research interests in clinical, cognitive, computational and social-affective neuroscience.
Prof. Kate Cockcroft
Tel: 011 717 4511
Dr Michael Pitman
Tel: 011 717 4505
Health Communication Research Unit (HCRU)
The HCRU is an interdisciplinary research group concerned with understanding the unique challenges of cultural and linguistic diversity in health and community care contexts.
Over the past two decades, the HCRU has engaged with clinical and community sites and developed research-based recommendations and communication skills training programmes to improve the quality of care in health and community spaces.
Our research focuses on health care communication, a fledgling field in South Africa that uses applied research methods from the social sciences and linguistics to address social, cultural, linguistic and ethical complexities of health, illness and disability.
Prof. Jennifer Watermeyer
Tel: 011 717 4578
The Wits Violence Studies Group (WVSG)
Since the declaration of violence as a public health problem interdisciplinary research has produced vast quantities of empirical data on risk factors for violence in a range of countries and community contexts that have informed several effective interventions and a number of impressive decreases in rates of homicide across the world.
Despite the unquestionable successes of this orientation in cataloguing risk and protective factors, relatively little is known about the situational factors and mechanisms that translate risks for violence into enactments of violence itself.
Without stronger explanations of these situational pathways to violence, understandings of violence remain “fuzzy”. In response to this challenge, the Wits Violence Studies Group (VWSG) was established in 2013. Our current flagship project is the Violence in Talk and Action (VAT) project which involves the use of micro-sociological, conversation analytic and critical and clinical psychological methods to analyse a collection of approximately 500 videos of violence that we have sourced, collated and catalogued.
Other projects include a national study of the contexts of robbery-violence, community uses of collective violence, an interdisciplinary study of the economies of morality that shape violent enactments, and critical psychological approaches to the violence/trauma nexus.
Prof. Brett Bowman
Tel: 011 717 8335
Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (WitsEHDI)
Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI) is the gold standard for any practising audiologist and families of infants and children with hearing impairment.
EHDI programmes aim to identify, diagnose, and provide intervention to children with hearing impairment by 6 months of age (as well as those at risk for hearing impairment).
EHDI remains a significant challenge that requires increased focus within the South African context with an identified need for research to facilitate the transfer of knowledge (e.g. policies and guidelines) into practice.
The capacity-versus-demands challenges of the South African healthcare system, as well as the linguistic, cultural and socioeconomic diversity of the South African population; with the increasing attention towards the fourth industrial revolution, presents unique challenges which prompted the need for contextually relevant and responsive research in this field.
The Wits EHDI research cluster, with Prof Katijah Khoza-Shangase and Prof Amisha Kanji as principal investigators focuses on early hearing detection and intervention (EHDI), and as part of its activities; the Research Cluster focuses on any contextually relevant and responsive research in early intervention in audiology.
Prof Amisha Kanji
Tel: 011717 4551
Prof. Katijah Khoza-Shangase
Tel: 011717 4565
Narrative Enquiry for Social Transformation (NEST)
NEST seeks to undertake research that returns us to the scenes of intimacy, contemplation, pleasure, affirmation and crime in order to listen, acknowledge, investigate, archive, understand and, where appropriate, celebrate the persistence and importance of narrative and aesthetics in our lives and, more importantly, in what makes us human.
Narrative research offers the possibility of tracing identities and visions across time as constructed through inter/cross-generational experience and storytelling; the transmission of unofficial histories, the proffering of alternative accounts by ordinary people that unsettle the normative perspectives of those in power; and the mutation and reconstruction of (cultural) memory.
We explore the narrative formation of consciousness and subjectivities and the ways in which narrative both constrains and enables agency. Our interests are in the analysis of narrative form in multiple modalities: textual, visual, archival, aural and performative.
The project aims to utilise connections and juxtapositions between different narrative forms to extend the reach of the Humanities in innovative processes and products of knowledge. The project specifically focuses on silenced narratives and the ways in which these may be articulated in resistant and productive ways.
Prof. Jill Bradbury
Tel: 011 717 4515
Wits Psychology has a decade-long reputation as a department with particular expertise in psychoanalytic studies. At present, a number of staff members are involved in psychoanalytically oriented research. The School is home, therefore, to a sophisticated group of existing informal and formal groupings whose research centres around psychoanalytic studies.
The Psychoanalytic Studies research cluster offers an opportunity to build on existing strengths in order to improve research productivity. Because such groupings straddle teaching, mentorship, higher degrees and research, there is potential for growth in all these areas. The research cluster focuses on the development of postgraduate students (for example through symposia and research publications) as well as a flexible umbrella for staff to advance their research interests.
A twofold scope encompasses existing strengths: research focused on applied psychoanalytic practice and research focused on the application of psychoanalysis to social issues. These are also the two areas where psychoanalysis is currently experiencing an explosion of innovation internationally. The specificities of the South African context (e.g. the strong need for non-traditional forms of practice and the high level of diversity – in its widest sense – in the population) imply that South African scholars have great potential for innovation in these areas.
Prof. Carol Long
Tel: 011 717 4510
Educational Psychology in Context
The mission of our research cluster, in line with the School of Human and Community Development’s vision of promoting human and community development, is to promote excellence in academic and professional education and training. Our areas of research not only address key psycho-social and educational issues within developing and marginalised communities but are also aimed at informing our post-graduate educational psychology teaching and training programmes.
The overall aim of the research team is to foster staff and student research and publication output. Since 2015, our Masters’ students have been encouraged to select their research topics within the identified research areas of the team. This has facilitated the mentoring of these students by the team, so as to work towards the publication of joint research projects. Such a process has the potential to provide a mechanism for recruiting students for doctoral and post-doctoral studies and into academia.
Prof. Zaytoon Amod
Tel: 011 717 8326
The Net10 research cluster collaborates with researchers from other universities in the Southern African region. Our work undertakes multi/cross/inter-disciplinary research, advocacy and interventions on Father (Dis)connections (FACT) and Sexual Orientation and Gender identities/Expressions (SOGIE) framed against research principles on sexual and reproductive health rights.
Prof Mzikazi Nduna
Tel: 011 717 4168
Dr Simangele Mayisela
Tel: 011 717 4529
The research focus of the Industrial/Organisational Psychology cluster is based on exploring sustainable work systems at various levels of abstraction.
At the lowest level of abstraction, we look at what it means to create tasks or work environments that enable the work tasks to be performed sustainably. This might include how we support sustained attention tasks and how we design work environments to be psychologically restorative.
At an intermediate level of abstraction, we are interested in understanding how teams and groups function in a sustainable manner. This includes understanding how we create psychosocial work environments that are supportive of health and wellbeing and understanding potential responses to toxic work environments (for example, in situations of workplace bullying).
At the highest levels of abstraction, we are interested in understanding how entire organisations interact with their internal and external environments to support a sustainable ecology of organisations. This might include intra-organisational functioning (for example between organisations, or between corporate organisations and organised labour) or how organisations support a sustainable environment (for example through green building or through sustainable job creation).
Prof. Andrew Thatcher
Swallowing and Dysphagia Society
The Swallowing and Dysphagia Society is a research group that was started by academic staff at the Department of Speech-Language Pathology, who share an interest and passion for dysphagia. Our focus is on dysphagia practices in South Africa and we hope to:
- Facilitate, promote and support research in the area of swallowing and dysphagia (across the lifespan) in the South African context through research
- Promote interest in dysphagia among undergraduate, postgraduate and post-doctoral students
- Identify opportunities for collaboration both within and outside of Speech Pathology at a national and international level
- Provide a platform for information sharing in the field of swallowing and dysphagia for medical professionals, allied health professionals individuals with swallowing and/or dysphagia related impairment, as well as their caregivers
- Promote opportunities for continuing professional development in dysphagia in the form of journal clubs, workshops, lecture series and webinars
- To provide recommendations for policy, practice and clinical guidelines in the area of dysphagia
- To develop theories that speak to transformation of current dysphagia practices within the University and beyond
Dr Jaishika Seedat
Tel: 011 717 4576
Dr Kim Coutts
Tel: 011 717 4572
Women Intellectuals Transforming Scholarship In Education (WITSIE)
The WITSIE Research Cluster is a collective of staff and Student Researchers Interested in Sexual reproductive health and rights (SRHR) work and research.
The cluster is focused on developing young women’s leadership in research on SRHR. In particular, critical and feminist approaches as orientation is encouraged in engaging research and activism on SRHR. The cluster is also focused on developing research on SRHR through critical methodologies that include participatory action forms of research, critical health approaches, critical feminist approaches.
Topical issues further include gender-based violence and harm, sexual and reproductive health issues, advocacy-oriented work in enhancing sexual and reproductive rights.
Beyond the University community, WITSIE research team works with national and regional organisations, influence policy, knowledge-attitudes-practices (KAP), behaviour change interventions and media coverage on Young Women Development issues especially on Sexual Health and Reproductive Issues. The research team is comprised of members from Social Work, Psychology, Public Health and encourages a multi-disciplinary focus in its work.
Prof. Peace Kiguwa
Tel: 011 717 4537
The Wits Preventive Audiology (WPA) Cluster
This cluster grew from the Wits Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI) group and was funded by the NIHSS – with Prof Katijah Khoza-Shangase as its Lead. Preventive healthcare, where preventive audiology is located, consists of measures taken for disease prevention. Hearing function can be affected by a number of factors, including lifestyle choices, environmental factors, genetic predisposition, burden of disease, as well as other causes. Most often, hearing impairment can be prevented; and/or its consequences minimized through preventive measures. Such prevention requires carefully deliberated anticipatory actions that can be categorized as primary, secondary, and tertiary prevention (prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation). South Africa, as a resource-constrained developing country still has a challenge of high numbers of individuals with preventable hearing impairment from cradle to grave. Numerous strategies exist for prevention of hearing impairment across all ages and in various contexts. This cluster’s research focus “Preventive Audiology: An African Perspective”, in line with the South African re-engineered primary healthcare strategy; aims to provide evidence-based perspectives grounded in an African context on preventive audiology, with a specific focus on primary and secondary prevention in audiology; with research covering the following areas: 1) recent advances in early detection assessment measures across the lifespan (early hearing detection and intervention- EHDI; occupational noise induced hearing loss -ONIHL; ototoxicity, vestibulotoxicity, etc.); 2) audiological monitoring: ototoxicity and/or vestibulotoxicity; 3) audiological intervention within preventive care; 4) barriers and/or facilitators to preventive audiology; 5) contextual factors influencing implementation of preventive audiology; 6) monitoring and evaluation factors in preventive audiology; 7) policy and legislation in the implementation of preventive audiology strategies; and 8) preventive audiology in culturally and linguistically diverse contexts.
Professor Katijah Khoza-Shangase
Tel: 011 717 4565