Exceptional research showcased at TUT’s Niche Area Forum

by Phaphama Tshisikhawe

29 September 2023

The Tshwane University of Technology’s Directorate of Research and Innovation (R&I) once again brought together the crème de la crème of researchers during its 2023 annual Niche Areas Forum, which highlighted the University’s impactful and cutting-edge research that responds to societal challenges locally, nationally and beyond.

Dr Naledi Nthite - Deputy Director at the Directorate of Research and Innovation.

Research and Innovation niche areas are institutionally approved, and each has a well-defined research theme that is aligned to the university’s strategic pillars, the National research priorities and also the Agenda 2030 Sustainable Developmental Goals (SDGs) which are an urgent call for action by all countries, developed or developing. Their work is aimed at addressing institutional, provincial and national research and innovation priorities. 

Currently the university has seven active Niche Areas that are interdisciplinary, they work with researchers and students from the various faculties combining their expertise to solve complex research problems.

In her opening address, Dr Naledi Nthite, Deputy Director for Research and Niche Areas, at the Directorate of Research and Innovation, thanked the niche areas leaders and their team for their outstanding work. 

“This event wouldn’t have been possible without you. We are very proud of you and applaud your exceptional work. We encourage you to continue cultivating university research to soar to greater heights. TUT supports the development of research and innovation niche areas, especially those that are relevant to national and regional priorities and opportunities, not forgetting those with industry linkage and international collaborations.”

“Building on current capacity and capabilities of academic staff and students, is essential in promoting a sustainable research and innovation culture. In addition, we encourage our researchers to strategically align their niche areas to the national agenda on sustainable goals”, she said.

Prof Anne Mastamet Mason and Prof Pfunzo Sidogi from the Faculty of Arts and Design made an interesting presentation on Creative Industries and Cultural Discourses of the Global South, a practice informed research which is aligned to the Sustainable Development Goals. 

Their research touched on Fashion Entrepreneurship, Eco-fashion and Product development, considering current and emerging structural and strategic trends within the Cultural and Creative Industries (CCIs). They furthermore deliberated on the macro-trends within the global economy and taking into consideration key debates and discourses on the creative economy in general and the CCIs more specifically. 

Prof Molefe Maleka discussed the University’s new niche area at the Faculty of Management Sciences, which he leads, and it is titled: The Living Wage, Executive Remuneration, Human Resource (HR) Data Analytics and Human Resource Outcomes. 

Prof Maleka gave insight on the objectives of the Niche Area, highlighting that it seeks to explore total rewards framework for South African Public Service; explore the living wage index in eMalahleni and surrounding areas; develop data analytics competencies using Excel, SPSS and Python in eMalahleni and surrounding areas and lastly explore digital competencies for remuneration practitioners working in organisations and government departments in eMalahleni and surrounding areas.

Other topics presented include:

  • Climate Change, Water Security and Disaster Management- Prof Julius Ndambuki from the Faculty of Science.
  • Operations and Engineering Management - Dr JA Swanepoel from the Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment.
  • Activism as a tool to Combat Gender-Based Violence – Prof Nalini Moodly-Diar from the Faculty of Arts and Design.
  • Inclusive Growth, Socioeconomic Development and Transformation – Prof MF Zenihun from the Faculty of Economics and Finance.
  • Occupational Health and Safety – Dr ML Pilusa from the Adelaide Tambo School of Nursing, Faculty of Science.

TUT Staff and students are encouraged to contact the Niche Area Leaders if they would like to join any of the Niche Areas. A Call for new Niche Areas is also advertised annually at TUT.

Please click here to access the 2023 Niche Area Forum.

Research Niche Area leaders with staff members from the Directorate of Research and Innovation.

For more information on the Tshwane University of Technology, please contact Phaphama Tshisikhawe, Corporate Affairs and Marketing.
Tel: +27 12 382 4711  Email: tshisikhawerpt@tut.ac.za