Research Leadership Programme

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Research Leadership Programme (RLP)

The RLP is a bespoke programme, specifically aimed at developing research leadership for outstanding female academics and researchers, at Senior Lecturer, Associate and Professor levels, to advance towards becoming internationally recognised scholars (equivalent of A & B NRF rated scholars).

For this programme, research leadership refers to academic prowess and stature that enables high-quality research performance. In this instance with a particular focus in developing requisite soft and hard skills, which include, among others, leading and managing large research grants and research teams, make research collaborations and networks work for you, planning and guidance for NRF rating, etc. The programme is envisaged to run for a period of 12 months and will comprise of five components:

  • Research leadership skills development (5 workshops involving action-learning sets)
  • Personal coaching (pending availability of funds) and professional mentorship
  • One week international visit for professional networking and collaborations networking
  • 180-degree personal assessment/feedback (Pre- and post-programme)
  • Presentations and reflections on RLP and experience


Eligibility Criteria

  • Female academics at Senior Lecturer, Associate and Full Professor levels, appointed on a permanent basis at UJ; Hold a doctorate degree;
  • NRF rating at C or Y level (or if not rated an academic profile equivalent to NRF C or Y rating
  • Evidence of research excellence and performance above the norm at their career stage;
  • Evidence of research and academic leadership;
  • Evidence of research impact in academia and/or in the broader socio-political and economic sectors;
  • Desire to improve their professional standing and NRF rating;
  • Ability to engage meaningfully and constructively in the programme.

Research Leadership Programme 2023 Cohort

Professor Musawenkosi Donia Saurombe

Prof. Musawenkosi Donia Saurombe is a young academic who became a Doctor of Philosophy in Industrial Psychology in 2017, breaking an astounding academic record by becoming the youngest female Ph.D. graduate in Africa at the age of 23. Prof. Saurombe worked as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the North-West University-Mafikeng from 2017 and was appointed as a Senior Lecturer at the University of the Free State in Bloemfontein in 2019. In 2021 she was employed by UJ as a Senior Lecturer, where she was subsequently promoted to Associate Professor in 2022. Prof. Saurombe has lectured on Human Resource Management and Industrial Psychology and supervises postgraduate research. She is a published researcher, both locally and internationally, and is also known for the work she does as a civic innovator, particularly concerning women and youth.

Professor Deirdre Pretorius

Deirdre Pretorius is an Associate Professor in the Graphic Design Department in the Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture at UJ. She currently lectures in Design Studies at undergraduate level and supervises postgraduate students in the Honours Design, MA Design and PhD (Art and Design) programmes. She is responsible for coordinating the postgraduate programmes in the Department.

Her research focus is on the history and analysis of graphic design and visual culture in South Africa, a focus she has pursued from the start of her research journey with the decision to pursue an MA in South African protest posters at the University of Pretoria (UP). She obtained her D Litt et Phil in Historical Studies at UJ with her dissertation titled “Ideology and Identities: Printed Graphic Propaganda of the Communist Party of South Africa 1921-1950” in March 2012. Much of her research necessitates archival work, through which she uncovers valuable evidence of graphic design in South Africa, made available in the public domain through publications and conference papers.

She has published in academic journals, presented at conferences, locally and abroad, and contributed book chapters on topics that include South African Communist Party graphics, Second World War posters, political party logos and an overview of graphic design history in South Africa. She is a member of the International Association of Art Critics (AICA), the South African Visual Arts Historians (SAVAH) and a member of the Advisory Board for the Journal of Design History.

Her creative practice over the last few years has revolved around creating artist’s books.

Dr Suraiya Naicker

Dr Suraiya R Naicker is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Education Leadership and Management (DELM) at UJ. In 2020 she was appointed as Head of Department (HOD) of DELM. Previously she served as an educator, HOD and deputy principal for 17 years in public schools. Dr Naicker completed her Honours in Education Leadership and Management with cum laude. UJ awarded her with the New Generations’ Scholarship in 2009 to complete a Master’s degree and in 2011 to complete a PhD, both in Education Leadership and Management. She was awarded the UJ Vice Chancellor’s medal in 2011 as top Master’s student in the Faculty of Education. Dr Naicker has supervised two PhD candidates, two full Master’s dissertations, 11 Master’s minor dissertations, and 132 Honours research projects. She is a recognised Research Supervisor with the United Kingdom Council for Graduate Education. Her research and publications are in the areas of systemic change in school districts, leadership development and distributive leadership. Her current research interests are principal wellness, instructional leadership, and continuing professional development for School Leaders.

Dr Nabeela Hasrod

Dr Nabeela Hasrod received her Bachelor’s degree in Optometry from UJ in 2011. In 2012, she started a private practice and supervised third and final year optometry students on a part-time basis. In 2014, she was employed as an Assistant Lecturer at the department of Optometry at UJ, and in 2015 successfully completed the Ocular Therapeutics course through the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN), in conjunction with the State University of New York (SUNY). She received her MPhil cum laude in 2016 and was awarded the Chancellor’s Award and the Faculty of Health Sciences Award for top post-graduate student in the Faculty of Health Sciences at UJ. In the same year, she was appointed as a full-time Lecturer in the Department of Optometry. She received her Doctorate in Optometry in 2021. In 2022 she was promoted to Senior Lecturer and appointed as Programme Coordinator for the Department of Optometry. In 2023, she was appointed as HOD for Optometry. Nabeela has published six papers in accredited journals thus far.

Professor Malehoko Tshoaedi

Malehoko Tshoaedi is an Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology at UJ. She holds a PhD in Political Science and Gender studies from the University of Leiden in the Netherlands.  Prof Tshoaedi previously taught Sociology at the University of South Africa (Unisa) and UP. She has also worked as a researcher in the Sociology of Work Unit (SWOP), now the Society, Work and Development Institute at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits). She is the co-editor for the Pluto Press Wildcat Series: Workers Movements and Global Capitalism. 

Professor Michele van Eck

Michele van Eck is an admitted attorney of the High Court of South Africa (non-practising). She has over a decade of practical experience, having briefly practised as a lawyer and having worked as a legal adviser in the travel industry, as well as the logistics and supply chain industries. She joined UJ in January 2019 and is currently an Associate Professor and the HOD of Private Law in the Faculty of Law. She teaches the undergraduate Law of Contract module and postgraduate modules for Law and Language, and Drafting of Contracts, which forms part of the LLM in Drafting and Interpretation of Contracts (of which she is the course coordinator). She currently serves as a member of UJ’s Faculty of Education’s Research Ethics Committee and is also one of the 2020 recipients of UJ’s Vice Chancellor’s Most Promising Young Teacher Award. Her doctorate in the drafting of contracts in South Africa is the foundation of her research interests in contract law, the relationship between law and language, substantive contract theory, as well as drafting of contracts, with further research interests in the fields of legal education (teaching and learning) and legal ethics.

Qualifications: BCom (Law) (RAU), LLB (UJ), LLM (UJ), LLD (UP), BTh (SATS). PGDip Interpretation & Drafting of Contracts, Dip Corporate Law (UJ).


Admitted Attorney of the High Court of South Africa (non-practising).

Research interests:

Contract law, drafting of contracts (including the relationship between law and language), legal education (teaching and learning) and legal ethics.

Dr Lungile Sitole

Dr. Sitole is currently a Senior Lecturer and Researcher in the Department of Biochemistry at UJ, where she also serves as the Director of the UJ Soweto Science Centre. She holds both a BSc (Magna Cum Laude) and MSc (Cum Laude) in Organic Chemistry from the Jackson State University in the USA, as well as a PhD in Biochemistry from UP. She is a Department of Science and Technology (DST) Women in Science alumni, who featured in the Mail & Guardian list of Top 200 young South Africans in 2015. She is also a Golden Key International Honours Society member, as well as an ambassador for South Africa’s 2017 National Development Plan (NDP 2030). Dr Sitole is an internationally recognised scholar through published research in peer-reviewed journals. Her current research focus is on the application of metabolomic technologies in characterising infectious diseases (HIV/AIDS) and cervical cancer as an opportunistic infection, and the screening of natural products and metal complexes as anti-cancer agents.

Dr Lee-Shae Salma Scharnick-Udemans

Dr Lee-Shae Salma Scharnick-Udemans is a Senior Researcher in the Desmond Tutu Centre for Religion and Social Justice at UWC. With degrees in Religious Studies and Media from the University of Cape Town (UCT), she also has extensive experience working in television production. Dr Scharnick-Udemans researches, teaches, and supervises in the areas of religious diversity, pluralism, the political economy of religion, new religious movements, and the media.

She is a co-editor for the Journal for the Study of Religion and an executive member of the Association for the Study of Religion in Southern Africa.

Professor Melanie B. Luckay

I started my professional career as a school teacher in Cape Town, teaching Science-related subjects. During this time, I was Subject Head and played a leading role in curriculum development for Biology, Natural Science, and Mathematics. I lead a multidisciplinary team of science teachers. My interest in science classroom practices led me to do an MEd in Science Education. Following this experience and being awarded a Spencer Fellowship and later a Mellon Fellowship, I embarked on a PhD in investigating science classroom learning environments. On completion, I was employed as a Lecturer in the School of Education at UCT, teaching Science Education modules in Teacher Education, and coordinating the Science practical module. In 2011, as a postdoctoral researcher, I deepened my understanding of science learning practices, this time in Engineering Education (professional field), where I focused on the development of an instrument (questionnaire) to determine the technological literacy of prospective Engineering students (school learners who studied the Technology subject at school). In 2013 I was privileged to be appointed at UWC as Lecturer in Educational Studies. In this position and following my promotion to Senior Lecturer, I was responsible for teaching and overall co-ordination of the faculty-wide Teaching Practice function. I brought my understanding of classroom practices from a social constructivist angle to my work as both an Associate Professor, as well as a TP coordinator. My research focus area is technological literacy and society.

Professor Marié Young

Marié Young is an Associate Professor in the Department of Sport Recreation and Exercise Science at UWC, where she has been a staff member since 2009 and served as HOD from 2016-2019. She majored in Recreation and Industrial Psychology, resulting in a career at the City of Johannesburg as a Sport and Recreation Officer. She developed a passion for working with youth and decided to share her knowledge and expertise by becoming an academic. She obtained her doctoral degree in 2014 with a focus on therapeutic recreation and was commended for her contribution to this field in the African context.

She lectures at undergraduate and postgraduate levels in the field of Sport and Recreation Management, and has a research interest in community recreation, campus recreation and therapeutic recreation as a means to promote health, youth development, disability, and changing environments making communities more liveable. Conducting research and supervision in the field of Sport and Recreation requires an individual to be diverse and to supervise postgraduate students across disciplines in the Faculty. The field’s diversity leads to her involvement in various interdepartmental and inter-institutional projects, nationally and internationally, in a leadership capacity. She presented papers at conferences, served on conference organising and scientific committees, and submitted collaborative grant applications that have been successful.

Internationally she serves on the Board of Directors for the World Leisure Organisation (WLO), the Executive Board of the WLO and on the Editorial Board for the World Leisure Journal. Her membership on these boards strengthens her academic and professional profile. Over time, she has developed professionally in the areas of Project Management and Internationalisation.

Dr Philomene Nsengiyumva

Dr Philomene Nsengiyumva is currently a Lecturer in the Department of Statistics and Population Studies at UWC. After my undergraduate degree in 2007, I challenged myself and immediately enrolled for my Honours degree in the Department of Statistics and Population Studies, in the Faculty of Natural Sciences at UWC, and graduated in 2008. This was followed by a MPhil (Population Studies) and PhD degrees in the same department, which were awarded in 2009 and 2013 respectively. All my studies from Honours to PhD level were done through a Social Transformation Prestige Scholarship funded by the South African Wine Industry Trust (SAWIT). After completing my PhD, I was awarded a postdoctoral fellowship by the National Research Foundation (NRF) to carry out my research at the Interdisciplinary Centre for Sport Sciences and Development (ICSSD) at UWC. In 2015, I was appointed as an Extended Curriculum Programme (ECP) Lecturer to teach the Introduction to Statistics for Life Sciences stream in the Department of Statistics and Population Studies. Apart from this course, I also teach the Introduction to Demography and Business Statistics course.

I am currently supervising four Honours, four Master’s, and six PhD students. I have graduated more than 20 Honours, and four Master’s students so far. I have attended local and international conferences and presented papers. I have published four papers in peer reviewed journals, and four more are still under review. My research area is migration, access to scarce resources, and gender issues from a developmental perspective. My research is mainly focused on issues that affect women in South Africa. These include housing, and water access. Based on the active role women play in South African society, I strongly recommend that the policy makers formulate and implement policies that support and empower women.

Dr Natasha Ross

Dr Ross received her PhD in Electroanalytical Chemistry in 2013 at UWC. She is an assiduous and dynamic research group leader within the SensorLab of the Department of Chemistry. The contribution Dr Ross has made to science and human capital development is evidenced by her growing research output, aimed at advancing renewable energy storage and conversion systems, as well as the training and development of postgraduate students under her supervision. To date, she has supervised 11 Honours, 12 Master’s (all graduated) and 4 PhD students (ongoing). Her research niche is developing innovative “smart” nanostructured materials to reduce cost and improve lithium-ion battery renewable energy storage capacities and photovoltaic solar cell efficiencies. Her research has been presented at both national and international conferences, which has since resulted in collaboration with the National Research Centre of Cairo in Egypt, the University of Cergy-Paris in France, the Armaments Corporation of South Africa (ARMSCOR) and the University of Missouri in the US through the UMSAEP programme. Dr Ross has published several articles in internationally rated peer-reviewed journals and contributed four book chapters in highly consulted textbooks. She is also passionate about science community engagement. Since 2014 she has volunteered her services at SEMU, the UWC Science Learning Centre for Africa (SLCA) annual Women in Mathematics Conferences in 2016 and 2018, as well as the first Soapbox Science open-air event held at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town in 2019. She has volunteered at various SAASTA schools’ engagements, as well as UWC Science Faculty open day events as part of her contribution to boosting the image of the Chemistry Department; to increase student enrolment and retention. Her work over the years has led to her being listed as one of the top 200 Mail & Guardian young South Africans in 2021, which bears testimony to her commitment to be a catalyst for change and development in her community and South Africa at large.

Research Leadership Programme 2022 Cohort

Professor Noleen Pisa

Professor Noleen Pisa 

Associate Professor Noleen Pisa is the Head of the Department of Transport and Supply Chain Management at the University of Johannesburg and the Director of the Institute of Transport and Logistics Studies (Africa). She was recently appointed the TETA: 4IR Research Chair. Her areas of research expertise cut across economics, international trade, transport economics, supply chain competitiveness, tourism, and public health. In addition, sheserves on the board of the Institute of Transport and Logistics Studies (Africa) and the Journal of Transport and Supply Chain Management. Under her leadership, several international collaborations have been established,including with the Ecole de Pont, Paris Tech, Technische Universität Berlin, Germany, and the National Rail & Transportation Institute India.

Professor Agnes Makhene

Professor Agnes Makhene 

Agnes Makhene is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Health Sciences in the Department of Nursing at the University of Johannesburg. Her previous positions include Chief Professional Nurse at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital and Principal of Platinum Health Nursing School. From August 2019 to June 2021, Prof Makhene was the Nursing Department’s Head of Department (HOD). Among her publications are 12 peer-reviewed papers and two book chapters. She has presented papers at six international and two national conferences. In addition to serving as a board member of the South African Nursing Council, Prof Makhene is the chairperson of the Professional Conduct Committee and deputy chairperson of the Education Committee. Currently, she is working towards obtaining a full professorship in the area of critical thinking within academia and the clinical setting. Her hobbies are playing tennis, reading, and traveling.

Professor Nita Sukdeo

Professor Nita Sukdeo 

Nita Inderlal Sukdeo is currently an Associate Professor and Head of Department in the Department of Quality and Operations Management within the School of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering at the University of Johannesburg. She received a Master’s degree in Quality from the Durban University of Technology and a PhD in Engineering Management from the University of Johannesburg. Her research is focused on total quality management and operations management. Her expertise also includes advanced manufacturing technologies, smart factory, Quality 4.0, quantitative analysis, quality management systems, quality auditing, and risk assessment. She is a qualified Lead Auditor, proficient in ISO standards and certification. In addition to being a professional member of the South African Society for Quality (SASQ), she chairs and directs the Society for Operations Management in Africa (SOMA). She is an active participant and session chair of the IEOM Women in Industry and Academia panel session Africa edition.

Professor Sarita Ramsaroop

Professor Sarita Ramsaroop 

Sarita Ramsaroop is an Associate Professor in the Department of Childhood Education at the Faculty of Education at the University of Johannesburg. In addition, she is the Head of the Department of Childhood Education. In her research, she focuses primarily on student engagement in coursework and fieldwork, particularly on how schools contribute to both bridging the divide between coursework and fieldwork for student teachers and strengthening partnerships between schools and universities. She is currently participating in a research project to investigate the role of teaching schools in the education of student- teachers, as well as a collaborative research project with theUniversity of Helsinki. In addition to publishing nationally and internationally, she serves as a supervisor for postgraduate students.

Dr Adrie Haese

Dr Adrie Haese 

Dr Adrie Haese is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Graphic Design at the Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture (FADA) at the University of Johannesburg. She holds a PhD in Visual Arts from Stellenbosch University. Her research interests centre around wordless picture books, especially how they can facilitate access toa reading culture, boost the self-confidence of inexperienced readers and allow them to create a story in a languageof their choice, which is important in a multilingual society such as South Africa. Among the areas of research she isinterested in are how book creation in South Africa reaches out to communities, and how partnerships with highereducation institutions, non-profit organisations, corporate funders, and communities can lead to sustainable andreciprocal community engagement. Her work has so far produced 23 wordless picture books that have been used byreading organisations such as Nal’ibali and Smart Start. They are also being used as part of academic research into how this genre can be used in South African schools.

Professor Victoria Collis Buthelezi

Professor Victoria Collis-Buthelezi 

Victoria J Collis-Buthelezi is Director of the University of Johannesburg’s Centre for the Study of Race, Gender and Class and an Associate Professor in English. Her research interests include Black intellectual history as well as Caribbean, African, and African American literatures. She has published in several international journals such as small Axe, Callaloo, and The Black Scholar, in which she co-edited a special issue on “Black Studies in SouthAfrica.” She is a member of the Other Universals Collective, and a consortium of scholars in South Africa, Ghana, Ethiopia, Barbados, and Lebanon committed to exploring intellectual histories of exchange across Africa, the Caribbean, the Middle East, and South Asia. Her current book project excavates the print cultures of Black migrants to Cape Town from the Caribbean, the US, West Africa and other parts of South Africa before the rise of anti-colonial nationalism. She is a research associate of the Institute of Research in African American Studies (IRAAS) at Columbia University (New York) and a senior research fellow at the Johannesburg Institute of Advanced Study(JIAS) at the University of Johannesburg. She is on the Global Advisory Board of the Center of Global Black Studies at the University of Miami and the Association of Global Political Thought (Harvard). Collis-Buthelezi has held posts in English at the University of Cape Town and as a Senior Researcher at the Wits Institute of Social and Economic Research (WiSER) at the University of the Witwatersrand.

Professor Nobanathi Wendy Maxakato

Professor Nobanathi Wendy Maxakato 

Nobanathi Wendy Maxakato is an Associate Professor and Researcher (Scopus H-index 11) at the University of Johannesburg. Throughout her career at the Faculty of Science and the Department of Chemical Sciences, she has served in various positions of leadership. She is a project leader of the Materials and EnergyResearch Group. Her research focus is on Electrochemistry with a special interest in Energy. Her successful supervision and co-supervision of master’s and PhD students led to the successful completion of these programs. She is currently supervising and mentoring a  number of postgraduate students and postdoctoral research fellows.

Among Professor Maxakato’s publications are four book chapters, conference proceedings and 30 peer-reviewed articles in respected international journals. The Department of Science and Technology in South Africa selected her for competitive programs in 2014 as a young Scientist representative at ESONN, France and2017, before taking her to Barcelona, Spain for a 3-month research stay at the Institute of Photonic Sciences, where she received a fellowship from the Foundation Women for Africa under the Science by Women program. In addition to serving on the Chemistry and Materials Research Thuthuka panels, ProfessorMaxakato also served as a panel member for the Support for Unrated, Rated, and Y-rated Researchfunding instruments during the Engineering and Chemistry panel meeting at the National ResearchFoundation. The field of electrochemistry and energy is an area in which she is a frequent reviewer for international and local journals.

Dr Samantha Huneberg

Dr Samantha Huneberg 

Dr Samantha Huneberg is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Mercantile Law in the Law Faculty at the University of Johannesburg. Besides teaching at the undergraduate level, she teaches LLM students a module on Insurance Law. She holds BCom Law, LLB, LLM and LLD degrees from the University of Johannesburg. Theresearch Dr Huneberg conducts is in the area of insurance law, with a recent focus on new technologies in the insurance industry. In this field, she has published numerous peer-reviewed articles in reputable law journals and isfascinated by the potential impact of new technologies on the insurance industry.

Research Leadership Programme 2021 Cohort

Professor Beatrice Desiree Simo Kengne

Professor Beatrice Desiree Simo-Kengne

Professor Beatrice Desiree Simo-Kengne is Professor and Senior Research Fellow for the Public and Environmental Economic Research Centre in the School of Economics at the University of Johannesburg, South Africa. She holds MPhil and PhD degrees in Economics, from the University of Pretoria, South Africa, an MCom degree in Financial Economics from the University of Johannesburg, an MCom degree in Monetary and Banking Economics, and BCom (Honours) in Mathematical Economics and Econometrics from the University of Douala, Cameroon. She has taught macroeconomics, panel econometrics, time series econometrics, and mathematics for economists, and has facilitated a number of econometrics workshop trainings. She has supervised many master’s and doctoral students and has published over 30 articles in accredited journals. Her research interests lie in the fields of development economics – including but not limited to – housing, asset prices, agriculture, environment, performance evaluation, risk management, gender, health, and trade.

Beatrice joined the University of Johannesburg in May 2014 as senior lecturer in the School of Economics (formal Department of Economics and Econometrics) and was promoted to associate professor and professor in October 2016 and May 2020, respectively. In her leadership responsibilities, she participates in the School of Economics management and postgraduate research administrations; she has served as School representative at the College Higher Degrees Committee since 2016 and recently joined the Senate Committee as member. She is an alumna of the World Academy of Sciences, an affiliate of the African Academy of Sciences, a member of the Climate Change and Agriculture and Rural Development Working Group and serves as mentor for the ClimapAfrica programme of the German Academic Exchange Services.

Professor Natanya Meyer

Professor Natanya Meyer

Professor Natanya Meyer commenced her career as lecturer in 2012. She completed her BCom and Honours degrees in Economics and Risk Management, her master’s degree in Development and Management and thereafter her PhD in Entrepreneurship at North-West University in South Africa. In 2020, she joined the University of Johannesburg as part of the SARChI in Entrepreneurship Education. Prior to joining academia, she owned and managed three successful businesses highlighting her passion for entrepreneurship. She has been involved in the development of entrepreneurial student societies, served as an executive member of the Golden Triangle Chamber of Commerce (GTCOC) and as a community of practice member in the Entrepreneurship Development in Higher Education (EDHE) initiative launched by the Department of Higher Education (DHE) in 2017. She enjoys research and received a Y2 rating from the National Research Foundation (NRF) in 2021. So far, she has published more than 60 peer-reviewed articles in national and international journals and conference proceedings as a sole and co-author. Her research focuses on entrepreneurial and economic related topics with a focus on females, youth and an enabling environment. She is a co-editor, guest editor, editorial board member, reviewer for several national and international journals and has collaboration links with various Asian and east European universities.

Dr Sylvia Chioma Okoro

​​Dr Sylvia Chioma Okoro

Dr Sylvia Chioma Okoro is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Finance and Investment Management, College of Business and Economics, at the University of Johannesburg, South Africa. Dr Okoro holds a PhD (Engineering Management), an MTech (Construction Management) and a BSc (Estate Management). Her professional and teaching experience centres on real estate development, valuation, and management. She has worked for private and public entities. She is a research leader within her current department, and the Lead Researcher at Awoyokun Consulting (a RICS-registered professional real estate consulting firm in Nigeria. She is a co-convener of national and international conferences and a reviewer for highly ranked academic journals. Her research interest is in the field of sustainability in the built environment, focusing on people, infrastructure, real estate and facilities management. She has published over 45 papers in accredited journals and peer-reviewed conference proceedings, some of which have won the Best Paper Award.

Dr Irene Bronner

Dr Irene Bronner

Dr Irene Enslé Bronner is Senior Lecturer with the South African Research Chair in South African Art and Visual Culture, in the Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture (FADA), at the University of Johannesburg. Her research interests centre on feminist studies in the visual arts, with a focus on contemporary Southern Africa. She works principally with feminist, queer and postcolonial cultural theory as well as issues of memory, affect, gender, and the aftermath of trauma. She has published in local and international journals, including Textile: Cloth and Culture and Woman’s Art Journal, and has authored a book chapter in a Routledge publication, forthcoming in July 2021. She is a CAA-Getty International Program alumna and has an NRF rating of Y1.

Professor Charlene Downing

Professor Charlene Downing

Professor Charlene Downing is Associate Professor in the Department of Nursing, Faculty of Health Sciences, at the University of Johannesburg. She has been a permanent member of the Department since February 2015. Prof Downing lectures, supervises, and mentors research methodology at an undergraduate, postgraduate, master’s and doctoral level. She is the Editor-in-Chief of Health SA Gesondheid, an accredited interdisciplinary journal. Professor Downing completed her Postdoctoral Fellowship with Dr Jean Watson. Caring and Ubuntu are the fundamental values of her teaching and research philosophy. She has graduated seven doctoral and 20 master’s candidates. She has been invited to act as reviewer for international and national journals at regular intervals and serve on three international editorial boards. Further, Prof Downing acts as an external examiner for master’s and doctoral studies at national universities. She participated in a Human Caring Science: Webinar in December 2020, where she was invited as one of 15 Human Caring Science Scholars.

Dr Omowunmi Mary Longe

​​Dr Omowunmi Mary Longe

Dr Omowunmi Mary Longe is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering Science, University of Johannesburg, South Africa. She is the pioneering IEEE PES WiP Representative for South Africa and Southern Africa. She received her Doctor of Engineering (DIng) in Electrical and Electronic Engineering Science from the University of Johannesburg, South Africa, in 2017. Her MEng and BEng degrees were also obtained in Electrical and Electronics Engineering in 2011 and 2001, respectively, from the Federal University of Technology, Akure, Ondo State, Nigeria. She is a Senior Member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (SMIEEE), and Senior Member of the South African Institute of Electrical Engineers (SMSAIE). Within IEEE, she is actively involved in IEEE–WiE, IEEE–PES, IEEE-PES WiP programmes. She is also a member of other notable professional organisations such as the Society of Women Engineers (SWE), Nigeria Society of Engineers (NSE), Association of Professional Women Engineers of Nigeria (APWEN). Dr Longe is also registered with the Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA). She has published more than 40 papers in refereed journals and at conferences. She is a reviewer for ISI-listed journals and refereed professional conferences. She has served as a member of Technical Programme Committees for local and international IEEE conferences.

Professor Ke Yu

Professor Ke Yu

Professor Yu is Associate Professor in the Education Faculty at the University of Johannesburg in South Africa. She holds a PhD in Educational Management and Policy Studies from the University of Pretoria, a Master’s in International Business from the Norwegian School of Economics and Business Administration, and a Bachelor of Economics from the University of Shanghai for Science and Technology in China. She is an avid reader and critical thinker. She has published widely in a number of inter-disciplinary fields. Her primary research interests include meta science, knowledge production, language and identity, as well as counter narrative and comparative studies.

Professor Carin Runciman

Professor Carin Runciman

​Professor Carin Runciman is Associate Professor of Sociology and the Director of the Centre for Social Change. She is a Y1 NRF-rated researcher, specialising in the analysis of post-apartheid collective action and in working-class mobilisation post apartheid with a particular focus on community protest and precarious work. Most recently, she has been the Co-PI on the UJ/HSRC COVID-19 Democracy survey, an ongoing cross-sectional survey among adults living in South Africa to determine the social and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. She has published widely in local and international journals. She combines her scholarship with social justice activism and is a management committee member of the Casual Workers Advice Office.

Professor Shanade Barnabas

Professor Shanade Barnabas

Professor Shanade Bianca Barnabas is Associate Professor in the Department of Communication and Media Studies. Her research is at the juncture of culture, indigeneity, and heritage. Since 2008, she has conducted research together with the !Xun and Khwe San communities of South Africa’s Northern Cape province, publishing book chapters and journal articles on issues of heritage, indigeneity, and marginality as experienced by these communities as well as on the larger Khoisan experience.

Professor Annie Temane Mmasethunya

Professor Annie Temane Mmasethunya

​Professor Annie Temane is Associate Professor in the Faculty of Health Sciences and Vice-Dean Research and Internationalisation at the University of Johannesburg. She holds a Master’s and a Doctoral degree in Psychiatric Nursing Science from the University of Johannesburg. Annie Temane started the academia very late in her life and joined the University of Johannesburg in June 2010 as Lecturer in the Department of Nursing and was promoted to Senior Lecturer and Associate Professor in 2016 and 2019, respectively. She has supervised and co-supervised numerous master’s and doctoral candidates to completion and has published in national and international accredited journals. Her research interests lie in the fields of mental health and ethics. She serves on several committees, internally and externally of the University. She serves on the Faculty of Health Sciences Higher Degrees Committee as the chairperson as well as on the Research Ethics Committee as the Deputy Vice Chairperson. She also serves as a committee member on the UNESCO National Bioethics Committee and SAMRC Bioethical Advisory Committee. She acted as a consultant for qualitative research at the Steve Biko Bioethics Centre at the University of Witwatersrand and serves on the editorial board of the in-house journal of the Department of Nursing, Health SA Gesondheid, as a sectional editor. She has been a panel member to review research grants for the National Research Fund and is a representative for the Faculty of Health Sciences at the U21 Health Sciences Group in the mental health and international development group. Her community engagement in an intellectually disabled organisation reflects her passion in mental health.

Professor Wai Sze Leung

Professor Wai Sze Leung

Professor Wai Sze (Grace) Leung hails from the Academy of Computer Science and Software Engineering where she looks at how artificial intelligence can be used to enhance the field of digital forensics. At the same time, she examines how technology can be leveraged to enhance teaching and learning for Information Technology students, particularly in improving their skills against computer crime. She has a PhD in Computer Science from the University of Johannesburg, specialising in the use of artificial intelligence in identifying fraudulent trends in financial transaction data. She is a member of the International Federation for Information Processing (IFIP) Working Group 11.8, which focuses on Information Security Education, and is scheduled to serve as a mentor for an upcoming offering of the Teaching Advancement at Universities (TAU) Fellowship Programme.

Professor Charmaine Arderne

Professor Charmaine Arderne

​Professor Arderne completed her PhD in Physical Chemistry in January 2011. The research involved the crystallographic study of long-chained materials. The focus was on the structural characteristics and physical properties of long-chained n-alkyl diammonium salts as they are precursors to layered inorganic-organic perovskite-type hybrids; they are bidentate ligands in transition metal complexes that have applications in propellants, explosives, and pyrotechnic compositions; they have structure directing properties in the synthesis of several zeolites and many new novel nanomaterials; and many have biological applications. Funding for the project came from the NRF Thuthuka programme and the University of Johannesburg.
She is currently a member of the Research Centre for Synthesis and Catalysis and works on the following projects: Metal induced cleavage of peptide and amide bonds using Co(III) amine and Co(III) amino acid complexes and their investigation as urease mimics. This project is an experimental study of the synthesis, analysis, and reaction of Cobalt(III) amine and Cobalt(III) amino acids complexes with urea-based materials to establish if cleavage of the amide and peptide bonds is successful. The research is undertaken to determine and understand the mechanistic steps of these reactions and to conclusively determine if the cleavage occurs hydrolytically or by oxidative means and to establish if the metal complexes will function effectively as urease mimics. The broader scope of this project is in the field of biocatalysis. This project was awarded an NRF Thuthuka Award for funding 2016-2018 and again from 2019-2021. She has a small research group consisting of one MSc student, two PhD students and one undergraduate research assistant, learning the relevant skills associated with this field of study. Recently, a postdoctoral fellow has joined the research group (Dr Bhawna Uprety) who will drive the project in a few different directions, and she will also assist the current students with their research in this area. This work is a joint collaborative effort between Dr Arderne and the project initiator, Prof Ivan Bernal (retired Professor at University of Houston, Texas, USA) and Prof Demetrius Levendis (University of the Witwatersrand).

Dr Elmarie Fourie

Dr Elmarie Fourie

Dr Elmarie Fourie completed her BProc degree (1994) and an Advanced Diploma in Labour Law (cum laude) at RAU in 2002. In 2005, the LLM degree in Labour Law was conferred on her by the University of Johannesburg. She was awarded the Chancellor’s Medal (2006) for the best master’s degree student in the Faculty of Law and the South African Society for Labour Law Prize for the student with the best results in the LLM degree in Labour Law. Elmarie joined the Centre for International and Comparative Labour and Social Security Law (CICLASS) as the coordinator of the Centre. In 2006, she joined the Department of Mercantile Law and lectured Labour Law during 2006 and 2007. Currently, she is the programme coordinator for the LLM in Labour Law, the PG (Dip) in Labour Law and lectures Labour Law to undergraduate and postgraduate students. She was awarded a Vice-Chancellor’s Distinguished Award for Teaching Excellence in 2010. She has been part of various task teams preparing legal opinions to government departments and drafting legislation for SADC countries. She completed her doctoral thesis in 2018, titled, Finding innovative solutions to extend labour law and social protection to vulnerable women workers in the informal economy. She is Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Law and the Head of Department of Public Law. She has published on labour law, social protection, and legal education in national and international journals. Elmarie has presented papers at more than 35 national and international conferences.

Professor Juanitta Calitz

Professor Juanitta Calitz

​Professor Juanitta Calitz, LLB LLM LLD (UP), is currently Associate Professor of Law at the University of Johannesburg (UJ) and Head of the Department of Mercantile Law as well as a member of the UJ Law Dean’s Management Committee. She presents undergraduate, postgraduate and extracurricular courses in Insolvency Law as well as business rescue and has presented at national and international conferences. She has written various articles and book chapters on topics related to Insolvency Law and is a co-author of Mars: The Law of Insolvency in South Africa (10th edition). Her research interests include Insolvency Law and Business Rescue as well as the impact of Industry 4.0 on Insolvency Law. On 1 April 2019, she was appointed chairperson of the INSOL International Academic Group and is a member of the INSOL International Legislative and Regulatory Steering Committee. She is also a member of the International Advisory Council of the Singapore Global Restructuring Initiative (SGRI), a collaborative project launched by the Singapore Management University (SMU) Law School with the support of the Ministry of Law of Singapore. She is an honorary member and national council member of the Southern Africa Restructuring and Insolvency Practitioners Association (SARIPA).

Dr Nonhlangabezo Mabuba

Dr Nonhlangabezo Mabuba

Dr Nonhlangabezo Mabuba (nee Mabho) is Deputy Head for Teaching and Learning, Senior Lecturer, and Researcher in the Department of Chemical Sciences at the University of Johannesburg (UJ). She obtained a PhD in Natural Sciences from Duisburg-Essen Universität, Germany, in 2010. She teaches Material Science and Processing, Analytical Chemistry 2 and Chemistry 1 theory and practical to guide students in critical thinking and prepare them for industrial work. Dr Mabuba’s research focuses on the development of water monitoring and treatment simple scientific tools. She supervises PhD, MSc and BTech students. She is a national and international recognised researcher through publications in peer-reviewed journals and presentations at conferences. In South Africa, she applies her research for community development projects (water monitoring and treatment and development of green biomass food fertilisers) by collaborating with local companies (Tupelovox PTY, LTD) and Buffalo City Metro municipalities.

Research Leadership Programme 2020 Cohort

Prof Christine De Meyer Heydenrych

Prof Christine De Meyer-Heydenrych (College of Business and Economics )

Christine De Meyer-Heydenrych is an Associate Professor in Marketing at the School of Consumer Intelligence and Information Systems at the University of Johannesburg. She has 16 years of experience in Academia and specialises in the field of Services Marketing and Retailing. She has published 20 articles in local and international journals including the prestigious Journal of Services Marketing and presented 38 conference papers. She has supervised 17 Masters and two PhD students and is currently supervising seven postgraduate students. She is also participating in international collaborative research projects. To date, she has 390 citations and a Google h-index of 12. In 2012, Prof De Meyer-Heydenrych was awarded the “Future-fit Emerging Researcher award” at the then Faculty of Management at the UJ. She has held leadership positions including being Head of Department at the Department of Marketing Management from 2013 – 2017. In addition to her teaching undergraduate and post-graduate students and supervising postgraduate students, she is currently a member of the Ethics committee of the College of Business and Economics; holds a Y2 rating from the NRF and is co-chair of the EMAA panel of the NRF.

Dr Mpho Raborife

​Dr Mpho Raborife (College of Business and Economics)

Dr Mpho Raborife is a Y2 NRF-rated researcher specialising in theoretical computer science, computational linguistics and digital humanities. She is a L’Oréal-UNESCO sub-Saharan Regional for Women in Science fellow and a DST Women in Science alumni. Most recently, Dr Raborife received the M&G 200 award in Education (2019). In addition, Dr Raborife has received numerous scholarships and bursaries from her undergraduate through to her post-PhD studies. She is currently supervising three PhD students (one submitted for examination) and two master’s students. Dr Raborife also has immense industry experience previously being a research associate at SAP Research and currently a technical advisor at SeeBridge Advisory (based in the US and Germany). She has worked in numerous projects multidisciplinary) with project partners across three continents. Dr Raborife also contributes to the scientific citizenship by being a member of scientific bodies.

Dr Tebogo Mashifana

​​Dr Tebogo Mashifana (Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment )

Dr Tebogo Mashifana is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Johannesburg in the Department of Chemical Engineering Technology, South Africa. She has completed both her Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree with Cum-laude. She holds a PhD degree in Civil Engineering and an MBA degree. She has been featured in the list for Mail &Guardian Top 200 Young South Africans (2019) and in the list for the 100 Top 100 Young Independents in SADC (2019). She is in the finalist for Gauteng Women Excellence Awards in the category for Young Women Achiever of the Year. She is a Golden Key International Honours Society Honorary member. She serves in a number of committees within the University of Johannesburg (Faculty Research Committee, School Research and Postgraduate Committee and Faculty Ethics Committee) and in the Global Change Science Committee nationally. She is a reviewer for 8 international journals. Dr Mashifana is passionate about research and investigating solutions to challenges related to environmental pollution. Her interest is in developing sustainable, cost-effective, environmentally friendly and applicable solutions to convert waste materials to useful and value-added products. She has 30 publications which entail peer-reviewed journal articles, book chapters and conference papers, published national and international.​

Prof Leila Kajee

Prof Leila Kajee (Faculty of Education​)

Leila Kajee is Associate Professor in Education and Curriculum Studies in the Faculty of Education at the University of Johannesburg. She works with under- and postgraduate teacher education students. Leila’s research interests in education include language and literacies, within a framework of transformation and justice. Leila has collaborated on and led NRF-funded projects including Children’s Literacies in and out-of- School, and Immigrant Literacies. She is currently leading an NRF-funded project “Social change in education: justice, cohesion and peace” with students and colleagues in Brazil and South Africa. She has written widely and presented papers in these areas. Her work on digital literacy and online learning is encapsulated in her book “Constructing identities in online communities of practice”. Prof Kajee has a C3 rating from the South African National Research Foundation (NRF).

Prof Lauren Graham

Prof Lauren Graham 

Lauren, a development sociologist with a Doctorate in Sociology from UJ, was promoted to Associate Professor in July 2016 and appointed the Deputy Director of the CSDA in October 2016. In January 2019, Lauren assumed a new role as Director of the CSDA. Her research interests are in the application and testing of social and development theories in practice with a focus on youth, children and people with disabilities and their agency in assessing human development outcomes. She has strong expertise in evaluation research and is skilled in the use of both quantitative and qualitative research approaches. She is particularly interested in the use of research methods that give a voice to vulnerable groups. Lauren manages a range of research initiatives related to youth including our flagship project- the Siyakha Youth Assets project – which seeks to develop knowledge and interventions to support young people to transition to employment. She also supervises post graduate students and mentor’s younger researchers. Lauren has a Y2 rating from the South African National Research Foundation (NRF).

Prof Pragna Rugunanan

Prof Pragna Rugunanan (Faculty of Humanitites)

​Pragna Rugunanan is an Associate Professor at the University of Johannesburg. She recently attained a C2 rating from the NRF from 2020 to 2025. Her research focuses on the construction of African and South Asian migrant communities to South Africa and migration in the Global South. She has been involved in NRF funded research projects on Family, Well-Being and Resilience, and Social Capital and Citizenship. Her research interests include the sociology of migration, labour studies, changing patterns of work, social networks, and community studies. She has published on migration, gender, xenophobia, education and citizenship. Her current research is titled “Migration, Identities and Trans-continental Linkages: Studying the South Indian Diaspora in South Africa”. She is the past recipient of research grants: NIHSS Brics Mobility Grant for 2017-8, NRF Thuthuka grant holder post-PHD track 2017-2019; 2016 DST-NRF Centre of Excellence in Human Development research grant; NRF Thuthuka grant holder 2012-2014. Pragna has served on the executive of the South African Sociological Association, was a council member and is currently a working group convener for the Industrial and Economic Group. She had a break from academia (August 2001-December 2007). She is also part of the Editorial Collective for Gender Questions, an accredited journal with the Department of Higher Education, for the period 2018-2020. She was Chair of the Humanities Higher Degrees Committee for 2018-2019 and is currently co-Chair. She is currently Head of Department of Sociology, from 2019-2021

Prof Neo Morojele

Prof Neo Morojele (Faculty of Humanitites)

​Professor Neo Morojele is a professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Johannesburg, with a PhD in Psychology from the University of Kent (United Kingdom). She is also a consultant to the South Africa Medical Research Council and an Honorary Professor of the School of Public Health (University of the Witwatersrand) and the School of Public Health and Family Medicine (University of Cape Town). She has a C1 rating from the National Research Foundation (NRF) and was second runner up for the Distinguished Woman Scientist Award (Humanities and Social Sciences) from the Department of Science and Innovation in 2019. Her research focuses mainly on alcohol and HIV, and alcohol policy, and she has received numerous research grants including her current UK-South Africa Newton fund grant to study access to substance use disorder treatment among men in South Africa. She is on the editorial board of three regional and international journals, regularly reviews journal articles, and has authored/co-authored over 80 peer-reviewed publications. She has served on scientific committees of conferences nationally and internationally, as a Technical Adviser to the World Health Organization (WHO) and is on the board of the International Confederation of ATOD Research Associations (ICARA).

Dr Banothile Makhubela

Dr Banothile Makhubela (Faculty of Science)

Dr Makhubela is currently a Royal Society of London-African Academy of Sciences (RS-AAS) Future Leaders-African Independent Research Fellow in the Chemical Sciences Dept. at University of Johannesburg. Her research spans across synthetic organometallic, green and sustainable chemistry as well as drug discovery. Her research interests include synthesis of new metal complexes and green neoteric solvents for applications in catalysis and metallodrug discovery. The focus in catalysis is on using renewable and waste resources, like biomass, plastic and carbon dioxide, to make useful chemicals, fuel(blends) and functional polymers. Her research group is also involved in developing platinum group metal complexes for potential application in treatment of cancer, malaria and HIV. Dr Makhubela has authored over 35 peer-reviewed publications, including research and review articles in leading international journals such as Catalysis Reviews: Science and Engineering, Catalysis Science and Technology, ACS Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering, Journal of CO2 Utilization and Green Chemistry. She has received several national and international scientific awards. These include the Scifinder Future Leaders in Chemistry Award, The World Academy of Sciences and African Academy of Sciences Young Affilateship and the SA Women in Science Award (Young Women Category). She has successfully mentored postdoctoral fellows, supervised 3 PhD, 16 MSc and 17 BSc (Hons) students, and currently supervises 9 PhD and 9 Masters students. She is a chemist, registered with the Catalysis Society of SA, the SA Chemical Institute and the American Chemical Society and she serves on the boards of Eskom and CHIETA.

Prof Philiswa Nomngongo

Prof Philiswa Nomngongo (Faculty of Science)

Prof Philiswa Nosizo Nomngongo was born and raised in Flagstaff, Eastern Cape (South Africa). She graduated with BSc Applied Chemistry, BSc (Hons) and MSc Chemistry from the University of KwaZulu Natal (School of Chemistry) in 2008, 2009 and 2011. She received her PhD Chemistry degree in 2014 from UJ. In 2015, she joined the Faculty of Science at UJ as a lecturer of Analytical Chemistry and since 2017 she has been an Associate Professor of Analytical Chemistry in the same institution. In 2020, she was awarded a DST/NRF South African Research Chair in Nanotechnology for water and holds an NRF Y1 rating. Her scientific career has been dedicated to Environmental Analytical Chemistry aiming in solving different environmental problems in the field of water quality and environmental protection. In the past five years, her research group has focused on the application of various nanomaterial materials in fields such as sample preparation methodologies, water and wastewater treatment, groundwater remediation, recovery of precious metals. Her research achievements have been recognized through prestigious fellowships and awards. Her research expertise is documented in the number of original publications (>70). Her Google Scholar, Scopus and Web of Science H index are 19, 16 and 16 with over 900 and 700 Google Scholar and Scopus citations, respectively.