Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences
Prof A Ströh, Dean
Telephone number: 012 420 3201
Fax number: 012 420 3890
E-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Preface by the Dean
The Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences aims to provide leadership in the fields of basic natural sciences and mathematics. Every year the Faculty contributes substantially to the building of research and teaching capacity in South-Africa by producing highly skilled graduates as well as new scientific knowledge through its research publications.
Integrated within the four Schools - Physical Sciences, Biological Sciences, Mathematical Sciences, and Agricultural and Food Sciences - are world-renowned Institutes and Centres providing its research groups with excellent facilities.
A significant number of our scientists are recognized internationally, rated by the National Research Foundation and, in some cases, world leaders in their fields. This ensures that post-graduate students are included in research teams that are competitive with the best in the world. According to the ISI's ranking of institutions the University of Pretoria is the number one South African university in the fields of agricultural, plant and animal science.
To ensure that the demands of stakeholders are met, close collaboration with industry, the private sector and international universities are a high priority. The Faculty generates support from industry and funding organizations, such as the NRF, Sappi, Mondi, ABSA, Coaltech 2020, RBM Co. and IFAW, in excess of R50 million annually.
The publication of research findings in international journals of high impact is a strong focus within the faculty; it is therefore important to continuously review the significance of the research that is undertaken to ensure that it remains internationally competitive and persistently impacts on economic development. For this reason a major thrust of research development is in biotechnology and its close association with bioinformatics. The basic disciplines - mathematics, chemistry and physics - would also play a more prominent role in the research activities envisaged for the School of Biological Sciences.
The research quality within the Faculty is exceptionally high and the level of competition inspires new and established researchers to develop innovative and groundbreaking research. This is evident in the prestigious awards and medals conferred on researchers of the Faculty — four new Exceptional Achievers Awards of the University (Professors Hassan, Korsten, Plastino and Bester), and one Exceptional Young Researcher Award (Dr Paul Sumner). Prof Johann Kirsten, a renowned Agricultural Economist from the Faculty, was the Association of Agricultural Writers' Agriculturalist of the Year and Grain SA's Science Personality of the Year. Research on legume improvement earned Prof Karl Kunert one of the two prestigious research grants of the Royal Society of London awarded in South Africa annually. A strong research collaboration with the CSIR, the University of Limpopo and Rothamsted University in the UK should emanate from this project.
The newly appointed Head of the Department of Chemistry, Prof Ignacy Cukrowski, is also President of the Electrochemical Society of South Africa and has already induced a new focus area in the Department. This new field of expertise has interactive research links with the Faculty of Engineering, Built Environment and Information Technology and should generate productive findings.
The Department of Geography, Geoinformatics and Meteorology contributed significantly to the excitement around the conclusion of research projects: three books were published by members of the Department during 2004, namely a book on environmental management, the definitive book on the history of Johannesburg, and a book on Pretoria after the end of the apartheid era.
The Faculty is also proud of the fact that the Forestry and Agricultural Biotechnology Institute (FABI) has been chosen to house one of the six Centres of Excellence of the national Department of Science and Technology and the National Research Foundation. Prof Mike Wingfield, Director of FABI who has conducted research on tree pathology for more than twenty years, will also direct the Centre. According to Prof Wingfield research on diseases and pest problems in trees that are of commercial importance, such as Eucalyptus, Pine, Acacia and fruit trees, will continue. In addition, indigenous plants that form an integral part of southern Africa's biodiversity, such as proteas and baobab trees, will be studied.
Following the inauguration of FABI Square and its associated facilities in 2004, the new facilities should be able to accommodate the Institute's continued growth. It also accommodates the newly established Bioinformatics Unit as well as new laboratories for the Faculty's growing DNA sequencing enterprises.
The Faculty aims to increase its research profit - quality and quantity - by identifying and strengthening existing focus areas to become Centres of Excellence similar to the FABI model, thus increasing the number of graduate students and enhancing interdisciplinary collaboration between the four Schools in the Faculty.