Dr Margreth Tadie participant in Future Professors Programme
29 May

Dr Margreth Tadie, a lecturer in the Department of Process Engineering, was selected as a participant in the Future Professors Programme (FPP), which is a new initiative of the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) that aims to prepare promising and productive early career academics to become a new cohort of South African professors. Initiated by the former Minister of Higher Education and Training, Dr Naledi Pandor, this distinct capacity building, national programme aims to fast-track senior researchers to full professorship at South Africa’s public universities looking to turn senior researcher/lecturers into associate professors and full professors in a shorter space of time than would have been the case without this intervention. It stems from students’ complaints during the #Feesmustfall protests about the absence of black professors and therefore targets women and black academics. Regarding her selection as a FPP participant, Dr Tadie says: “I am excited and honoured to be selected to be part of the programme. I am looking forward to the mentorship and interaction with colleagues from all over the country. I am expecting that the programme will strengthen my contribution in society as an academic.” Some of the attributes looked for in candidates of Future Professors Programme include: A deep commitment to the pursuit of advanced scholarship. Evidence of productive and imaginative scholarly work. Early signs of purpose and direction in academic work. Novelty, richness and a willingness to take risks in the pursuit of large ideas. Personal qualities of self-awareness, teachability and the need to grow. Evidence of resilience and persistence in the face of setbacks. A willingness to benefit from and contribute to a community of scholars. Candidates are ideally lecturers or senior lecturers in possession of a doctorate and who have already been able to demonstrate significant academic achievement beyond the doctoral degree. Nominations were received from 26 universities and only 29 candidates were selected. Dr Tadie is one of two Stellenbosch University candidates to have been accepted. The other SU candidate is Dr Lungiswa Nkonki, a senior lecturer in the Department of Global Health. The FPP’s focus is to generate serious research professors and uses the National Research Foundation (NRF) rating system to identify candidates. It offers a structured curriculum that includes intensive seminars and international placement aimed at accelerating the readiness of young academics for the professoriate. Capacity building entails five to six sessions of highly structured, residential, over-weekend seminars in South Africa. Subsequently, candidates will be placed in seminars and laboratories abroad. Dr Tadie was appointed lecturer in the Department of Process Engineering on 1 January 2016. She obtained her master’s degree from the University of KwaZulu-Natal and her PhD from the University of Cape Town. Her research fields cover sustainable extraction of minerals and valorisation of mining waste. In 2019 she was one of 30 scientists in Africa to have been selected for the FLAIR (Future Leaders – African Independent Research) research fellowships. FLAIR is a two-year programme of The African Academy of Sciences (AAS) and the Royal Society, with support from the United Kingdom’s Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF), and is designed to help talented early-career researchers whose science is focused on the needs of the continent, establish independent careers at African institutions and ultimately, their own research groups. Each scientist receives £300,000 (R5 472 003) over the two-year fellowship to help them with independent research. She was part of a competitive pool of 700 applicants across the continent. Dr Tadie concludes: “I have been privileged to have the opportunities that I have to use my research and engineering skills to address development issues in South Africa and Africa as a whole. I hope to be a role model to future academics in the country and encourage research which addresses Africa’s problems.” Read more about Dr Tadie here. Photograph: Dr Margreth Tadie.

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Dr Robbie Pott wins Teaching Excellence Award
17 Oct

Author: Asiphe Nombewu, Corporate Communication Dr Robbie Pott, a senior lecturer at Stellenbosch University’s (SU) Faculty of Engineering, says it is gratifying to be honoured as one of the 12 winners in the SU Teaching Excellence Awards for 2019. Waking away with an award in the category for “Developing teacher”, he says this shows that excellent teaching is encouraged, supported and recognised at SU. “My main goal is to impart an inquisitiveness and sense of fascination in my students. We have tools at our fingertips to change the world and create new things – I hope to help them realise that they also have access to these tools, and to teach them how to use these,” says Pott. Launched in 2017, the awards acknowledge lecturers in two categories, “Distinguished Teacher” and “Developing Teacher”, based on their experience and leadership in the scholarship of teaching and learning. Applicants had to submit a portfolio that demonstrated their reflection on and evidence of four main components: context, students, knowledge and professional growth. They also had to indicate the lessons they had learnt on their journey to becoming excellent teachers. “I am not only a teacher – I chose to stay in academia because I believe in the impact one can have as a researcher and a lecturer. I spend much of my energy on my research and my postgraduate students. I also enjoy my undergraduate students, and relish the challenge of trying to meet them where they are and induct them into engineering – as they will be the ones building our nation in years to come.” Pott describes working with young people as a privilege. The lecturer says he has been involved in teaching since he finished his undergraduate studies in 2004, when he started out as a tutor, working in both South Africa and the United Kingdom (UK). “I was privileged enough to have the opportunity to read for my PhD in the UK, and then bring the ideas and skills I learned home to South Africa. I was an assistant lecturer before my appointment as lecturer at Stellenbosch,” he says. Pott says it is critically important for one to evaluate your own teaching, and the process one goes through as part of the application. He says he also values feedback from peers and experts in the field, as it helps one hone and enhance one’s teaching and learning methodologies. “The transition from only doing research to having to balance a full research program with postgraduate students, as well as trying to make an impact in undergraduate teaching was a bit tricky. It is easy to focus on one or the other, but thankfully, I enjoy both.” He says the award is a reminder that teaching is important to him and it will allow him to refocus on his efforts with his undergraduate students. When he is not teaching, Pott attends escape rooms with friends. These involve problem solving and teamwork. *Dr Pott will receive his awards during a ceremony at the end of the fourth quarter. For more information about the Teaching Excellence Awards, contact Dr Karin Cattell-Holden at kcattell@sun.ac.za or 021 808 3074.

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