Founded in 1996, the Academy was inaugurated by the former President of South Africa and its patron, Nelson Mandela. It was formed in response to the need for an academy of science congruent with the dawn of democracy in South Africa – activist in its mission of using science for the benefit of society.
The mandate of the Academy encompasses all fields of scientific enquiry and it includes the full diversity of South Africa’s distinguished scientists. The Parliament of South Africa passed the Academy of Science of South Africa Act, 2001 (Act No. 67 of 2001), as amended, which came into operation in May 2002.
Prof Maggie Momba.
Prof Maggie Momba
Prof Momba conducts research activities on various aspects of water, with emphasis on drinking water purification and wastewater management, health-related water microbiology and bioremediation. After 28 years of specialising in the field of water research, she is a National Research Foundation (NRF) C1-rated scientist.
Prof Momba has over 200 publications. Her research achievements led to an international award for Outstanding Community Support in 2004, a South African Women in Water Award and a Vice-Chancellor’s Senior Researcher Medal in 2005. She also received the award for Woman Researcher of the Year in 2008, 2011 and 2013; the Vice-Chancellor’s Senior Female Researcher of the Year in 2012 and the Institutional Innovator of the Year Award in 2012.
Further, she received the Vice-Chancellor’s Institutional Researcher of the Year Award in 2013 and the Vice-Chancellor’s Institutional Female Researcher of the Year Award in 2016, 2017 and 2018. In 2014, Professor Momba became the Adviser of the World Health Organization for Household Drinking Water Treatment, Geneva. In 2016, she was recognised as one of ten 2016 Science Heroes by the Planet Earth Institute (PEI).
During the 20th symposium on health-related water microbiology held in Vienna/Austria, on 15 – 20 September 2019, Prof Momba received the Leadership Excellence Award by the Global Water Pathogen Project (GWPP). These awards elevated her status as an excellent researcher and a world-class expert in terms of water research in South Africa and beyond. In 2021, the Water Research Commission recognised her as one of the Legends of Water Research in South Africa. Her research in water quality has attracted global recognition as evidenced by the collaborations she has established with other universities beyond the borders of South Africa and the number of students originating from many parts of Africa who have studied under her guidance and mentorship.
The societal challenges that Prof Momba tackles in her water research work bring science, especially microbiology, to the communities where problems related to poor water quality have caused serious ill health and death due to waterborne diseases from contaminated water. She has generated several water treatment guidelines geared towards the improvement of water quality.
She is a member of no fewer than 16 national and international scientific committees such as the Water Research Commission (WRC) Steering Committee, Water Institute of South Africa, Editorial Board of Water SA, International Water Association, DNA Barcoding of Life Committee, Advanced, evaluating the societal impact of science and reviewer of 13 globally renowned refereed journals.
Professor Dr habil Christian Wolkersdorfer.
Professor Dr habil Christian Wolkersdorfer
Professor Christian Wolkersdorfer is a mining hydrogeologist with 32 years of experience in mine water geochemistry, hydrodynamics, geothermal applications and tracer tests.
In 2014, he was provided the South African Research Chair for Acid Mine Water Treatment at Tshwane University of Technology. He held the world’s first Industrial Research Chair for Mine Water Remediation and Management at Cape Breton University, Nova Scotia, Canada. He was also a “Finish Distinguished Professor for Mine Water Management” at Lappeenranta University of Technology in Mikkeli, Finland. He has been teaching hydrogeology, mining hydrology and tracer hydrology at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München und Bergakademie Freiberg, Germany, within the AEG master course of Tübingen University.
He received his PhD from Clausthal University, Germany and habilitated at Bergakademie Freiberg, Germany. He is the President of the International Mine Water Association and the Technical Editor of the SCI listed journal, “Mine Water and the Environment."
He has published more than 230 papers, books and book chapters in various journals and proceedings about hydrogeology, archaeology and mining related topics. He focuses on passive treatment technologies in remote areas and active treatment where local water sources or people might be directly affected by the pollution. Key active technologies are the integration of various technologies into new water treatment methods. Another focus of his research is the understanding of the mine flooding process itself and stratification in flooded underground mines by means of tracer tests and optimised monitoring methods. At TUT, he operates the world’s largest analogue mine model, the Agricola Model Mine, where mine flooding and stratification can be studied.