The Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf) is the official national academy of science and represents the country in the international community of science academies. ASSAf was inaugurated in May 1996 by former South African president Nelson Mandela. The South African government recognises the objectives and functions of ASSAf through the Academy of Science of South Africa Act, which came into operation in May 2002.
ASSAf recognised a number of top South African scientists at its annual awards ceremony held in Stellenbosch in October 2015.
Science-for-Society gold medal
The Science-for-Society gold medal for outstanding achievement in scientific thinking for the benefit of society was presented to the well-known palaeobiologist, Professor Anusuya Chinsamy-Turan. This medal is regarded as ASSAf’s apex award.
Chinsamy-Turan is the head of the University of Cape Town’s Department of Biological Sciences and is a global expert on the microscopic structure of the bones of extinct and extant vertebrates. She has been the recipient of numerous other awards during the course of her career, including the World Academy of Science’s sub-Saharan Africa Prize for the Popularisation of Science, which she received in 2013.
AU-TWAS Award for Basic Sciences, Technology and Innovation
AU-TWAS (African Union and The World Academy of Sciences) awards are aimed at recognising talented young scientists in Africa. The AU-TWAS award for Basic Sciences, Technology and Innovation was presented to Professor Yahya Choonara. Choonara is an associate professor of pharmaceutics at the Department of Pharmacy and Pharmacology at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) and is also a senior research scientist at the Wits Advanced Drug Delivery Platform research unit.
Choonara is an expert in Computational Pharmaceutics and developed a novel concept known as 'PharMATHaceutics' for implementing unique computational algorithms that assist in the optimisation of drug delivery systems. His research has been widely published and he is listed as a co-inventor in more than 40 patents and patent applications in various countries.
AU-TWAS Award for Earth and Life Sciences
Professor Marlien Pieters received the AU-TWAS award for Earth and Life Sciences. Pieters is the head of the sub-programme: Nutrition and Hemostasis at North-West University’s Centre of Excellence. She is a co-chair of the Factor XIII and Fibrinogen Scientific and Standardisation Subcommittee of the International Society of Thrombosis and Haemostasis and is also a board member of the International Fibrinogen Research Society.
Pieters led an international task group involved in the standardisation of methodology related to fibrin network characterisation which has resulted in a recent publication in the Journal of Thrombosis and Haemostasis.