Medals and fellowships from Royal Society of South Africa
- Wits University
Medals for established and emerging researchers, eminent scholars inducted as Fellows.
The Society also awarded Professor Jennifer Fitchett its 2023 Meiring Naudé Medal, which recognises outstanding early career scientists (under 35-years-old) who have already made a mark in their field and who are poised to become scientific leaders.
Furthermore, Madhi will next year receive the 2024 John F.W. Herschel Medal, the Society’s senior award, while fellow Witsie, Dr Isaac Nape, will then receive the 2024 Meiring Naudé Medal for early career scientists.
The Royal Society of South Africa is the country’s premier multidisciplinary scientific organisation. Fellows are entitled to the post-nominal letters FRSSAf after their names.
Jonah Choiniere is Professor of Comparative Palaeobiology at the Evolutionary Studies Institute (ESI) at Wits. His area of expertise is dinosaurian evolution, and he is an expert on theropods (meat-eating dinosaurs), the evolutionary relationships of vertebrates (systematics) and in palaeontological fieldwork.
His current fieldwork is in the South African Karoo basin, where his has been working on figuring out the age and distribution of the dinosaurs that used to live there.
Now a National Research Foundation (NRF) B-rated researcher, in 2019 Choiniere was then only the second NRF P-rated researcher in his field. An NRF P-rating is rare and prestigious, awarded to those under 35-years-old and considered future leaders in their fields, based on their published doctoral work and/or outputs.
In 2021, Choiniere led a research team that published a paper in Science showing that some dinosaurs evolved night vision and owl-like hearing.
Peter Kamerman is a Professor in the School of Physiology at Wits. He undertook his PhD training in thermoregulation and fever, but soon after shifted his focus to studying pain in people living with HIV. Since then, he has led an active research programme in the field of pain.
The work of his laboratory currently focuses on the epidemiology of pain and the mechanisms underlying painful diabetic polyneuropathy.
Kamerman’s expertise has seen him make significant contributions to developing local and international guidelines for the management, diagnosis and grading, and phenotyping of neuropathic pain.
Climate impact curious
Jennifer Fitchett is Professor of Physical Geography in the School of Geography, Archaeology and Environmental Studies. She works in the field of biometeorology, researching climate change and its impacts on plants, animals and human communities.
Her research includes reconstructing long-term climatic change over tens of thousands of years, exploring trends in contemporary climate dynamics, and investigating the impacts on changing flowering dates in plants, impacts on the tourism sector, and threats to human thermal comfort and health.
Fitchett’s demonstrable scholastic excellence is evident in her research on the role of climate in 沙巴体育官网_2024欧洲杯博彩app@ transmission, for which she was a member of the 沙巴体育官网_2024欧洲杯博彩app@ Environmental Reference Group formed under the auspices of the Department of Science and Innovation. In 2019, she was a finalist for a TW Kambule-NSTF Emerging Researcher Award at the NSTF-South 32 Awards. In 2020, Fitchett became a member of the South African Young Academy of Science, which elects members who are young, emerging researchers and leaders in their fields. She currently serves as the President of the Society of South African Geographers.
Vaccinating a nation and saving babies
Professor of Vaccinology Shabir Madhi is a paediatrician, infectious disease epidemiologist, and expert in vaccines. He was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of South Africa in 2016 when he was still the Director of the National Institute for Communicable Diseases. Since 2021, he has been the Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences at Wits, where he is also the founder and Executive Director of the Vaccines and Infectious Diseases Analytics (Wits VIDA) research unit, and Co-Director of African Leadership in Vaccinology Expertise (ALIVE).
Madhi will receive the Society's John F.W. Herschel Medal in October 2024. This medal is awarded to those who are outstanding in either multidisciplinary fields of research, or in more than one unrelated field.
The Society’s senior medal recognises Madhi’s major contributions in the field of vaccinology and the related fields of epidemiology, immunology and infectious diseases, and in mother and child health, as well as in vaccination policy and public health.
A National Research Foundation A-rated scientist, Madhi is an internationally recognised expert on the causes, treatment and prevention of infectious diseases in children. As a paediatrician, he led the first African vaccine studies against the leading causes of death in children from pneumonia and diarrhoeal disease, and for research into vaccines to protect pregnant women, foetuses, and infants against vaccine-preventable diseases.
As a vaccinologist, he led South Africa (and Africa’s) first 沙巴体育官网_2024欧洲杯博彩app@ vaccine trails and was an ardent, influential and outspoken advocate for 沙巴体育官网_2024欧洲杯博彩app@ vaccine access and equity during the pandemic.
Quantum info processing
Nape has made influential contributions to quantum and classical optics, which have garnered global acclaim. His research has featured prominently in journals like Nature Photonics, Science Advances, and Nature Communications.
Notable accolades include the 2023 Jubilee Silver Medal from the South African Institute of Physics and recognition as one of South Africa’s top 200 young innovators by M&G (2023).
Currently serving as the Wits-IBM liaison, Nape is actively engaged in advancing photonic computing technology and pioneering quantum computing algorithms for photonic information processing.