The country's top scientists were honoured last night in Cape Town at the National Research Foundation Awards. Researchers in all fields, ranging from astronomy to medicine, were recognized for their work.
The minister of science, Naledi Pandor, said, while great advances are being made, more needs to be done to get young people into the field of research. Pandor says South Africa must increase the number of matrics that enrol at universities from 16% to 20% as this will allow the country to improve its skills base in fields of science and engineering.
Pandor says she is happy that two universities will be built in Northern Cape and Mpumalanga. "You can't have participation if you don't have institutions, so I think building more university places would be important forward step for South Africa," she said.
Special recognition was given to the SKA Project Team of South Africa; they were honoured for their creativity and achievement towards extending the boundaries of scientific research on the continent and the role they played in raising South Africa's international stature as a world class research destination. South Africa is to co-host the biggest scientific instrument in the world with Australia.
It's made science very high profile and more young people have heard about science and astronomy and the engineering
"It's made science very high profile and more young people have heard about science and astronomy and the engineering that goes with. Also it has shown that you can have a career as a scientist," said SKA Project Leader, Bernie Fanaroff.
World renowned sports science expert, Prof. Tim Noakes received the lifetime achievement award. Noakes' achievements include being the co-founder of the Sport Science Institute of South Africa. He says the link between sport and science can no longer be ignored. Citing the recent Olympic Games, Noakes says the medals follow the coaches and scientists.
"I really think that if we want our athletes to do better in whatever competition we really have to be more scientific, the countries that are winning put more and more effort into their science like Australia and more recently great Britain and China are the countries that are dominating and reality is we can't be competitive in international sport anymore unless you take a highly scientific approach."