The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) in South Africa is one of the leading scientific and technology research, development and implementation organisations in Africa. It undertakes directed research and development for socio-economic growth.

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Dr Hulda Swai heads the Encapsulation and Delivery research group at CSIR Materials Science and Manufacturing. The group focuses on the development of nano-drug delivery systems, with emphasis on delivering TB, malaria and HIV/Aids drugs at the site of infection in vivo.

Autonomous robotic systems are increasingly ubiquitous in everyday life and this has led to a need to develop safe and reliable systems. If a system is to operate autonomously, its safe operation becomes critical and hence developing runtime verification algorithms can be important in ensuring safe and reliable interaction of these systems with human beings. Most software and hardware failures are a consequence of erroneous system behaviour arising from faults in these systems.

Young, bright and equipped for the job, the CSIR’s Portia Khanyile is making inroads into the speeding up of identification processes. This requires improving the speed of both the processing of fingerprint images and the searching of databases. “Fingerprint identification is computationally intensive and requires a lot of resources such as processing power,” Khanyile summarises the challenge.

There are a handful of brilliant women scientists who have changed our lives and the way we see the world. Laura Millroy, a student researcher at the CSIR, dreams of being counted among these women scientists who make a significant difference in people’s lives. Her project at the CSIR looks into developing a new antiretroviral therapy for HIV-positive patients.

Fred Senekal is passionate about making robots ‘see and think’. His research is about making them do just that by applying his expertise in computer vision to enhance their intelligence. Computer vision focuses on the theory and technology for building artificial systems that obtain information from images or multi-dimensional data.

Pearl Thusi is the new name to watch when it comes to sustainability entrepreneurship. The top achiever of the 2010/2011 Sustainable Entrepreneurship Programme, 31-year-old Thusi has taken on the challenge of leading this very same programme of the National Cleaner Production Centre of South Africa (NCPC-SA). The NCPC-SA is funded by the dti and hosted by the CSIR.

It was in 1986, to be exact, that CSIR Fellow and systems ecologist, Dr Bob Scholes, happened to ‘bump’ into a discussion on climate change in a scientific journal while doing a post-doctorate in the United States of America. Back to 2012, he is lead author for one of the chapters for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's Fifth Assessment Report and a major player on the global climate change scene.

Information and communications technology (ICT) is a powerful tool in many domains, particularly in Earth observation (EO), the science of observing our planet from space and deriving value from such observations. Dr Anwar Vahed heads the CSIR’s ICT for Earth observation (ICT4EO), a research group within the CSIR Meraka Institute, whose focus is applying ICT to extract useful information and derive benefits from EO data.

International Mother Language Day has been observed annually on 21 February since 2000. Gerhard Taljaard, competence area manager of the CSIR’s human language technologies (HLT) group, sees this commemorative day as a timely affirmation of the need to promote linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism in South Africa.

World Development Information Day is observed annually on 24 October to draw attention of worldwide public opinion to development problems and the need to strengthen international cooperation to solve them. Segopotso Moshapo, a researcher at the SAP/Meraka Unit for Technology Development (UTD) is passionate about the potential of information and communications technology (ICT) for people living in developing countries to find ways to solve longstanding problems.

Chéri Green and Gerbrand Mans, both based at the CSIR regional office in Stellenbosch, undertake facility location planning, which combines facilities location analysis and access standards using geographic information systems (GIS)-based accessibility analyses.

CSIR researcher, Ivy Ndhundhuma, is at the forefront of the photodynamic diagnosis technique that can be applied for early detection of cancerous cells. The aim is to be able to use this novel technique for early diagnosis of skin cancer and treatment. “Cancer in general is a deadly disease,” she says.

User Facility senior scientist, Dr Lorinda Wu says that most of African Laser Centre (ALC) members – including students – are forced to come to South Africa if they want to employ lasers in their research. The CSIR National Laser Centre is also a key node of the African Laser Centre, hence this facility is open to African scientists and students. However, for them to use the facility there needs to be a specific and approved project for them to be able to access this facility.

South Africa, through the CSIR National Laser Centre (NLC), is one of the frontrunners in pursuit of Free Space Quantum Communication – transmitting optical signals through the air, by using the quantum properties of laser light. The aim – according to principal researcher and project leader Dr Stef Roux – is to provide secure and safe ways of communication using lasers as opposed to fibre optic cables.

After studying the last five years in the US, Dr Jeannette McGill returned to the CSIR to head up the Novel Mining Methods competence area at the CSIR Centre for Mining Innovation (CMI). She returned with her second Master’s degree in mineral economics, as well as a PhD in economic geology from the Colorado School of Mines (CSM), one of the best engineering universities in the world.

Locally-designed, researched and developed smart card technology – to suit South African needs and demands – is coming to fruition. A smart card is a credit card-sized piece of plastic embedded with computer chips that can securely store information and provide a myriad of other services.

The International Mother Language Day of the United Nations (UN) is annually held on 21 February to celebrate languages spoken worldwide. It also observes the human right to use these languages. Nothing could be closer to the heart of Dr Febe de Wet, a principal researcher at the CSIR Meraka Institute, whose passion is resource gathering and localisation of human language technologies (HLT) work for South Africa’s resource-scarce official languages.

Researcher profiles series 2010

Researcher profiles series 2008

Researcher profiles series 2009







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