Dr Gansen Pillay, former Deputy CEO for Research and Innovation Support and Advancement at the National Research Foundation (NRF).
In his presentation titled, Challenges facing emerging researchers in a changing knowledge economy, Dr Pillay identified funding as another barrier to research and advised researchers to look beyond their own borders for funding opportunities.
According to him, juggling activities to ensure better time management is also a challenge in the research journey, as younger academics are often overwhelmed by their workload that prevents them from conducting research. "Senior professors should create more space for young researchers to pursue their research. It is a collective responsibility and such a development can be a win-win situation for the department, the faculty and the university."
"The enormous amount of information and data that researchers have to deal with is another challenge, and such data is useless if it is not interpreted and documented to generate new knowledge," Dr Pillay added.
He also stressed the importance of active networking and collaborating with the best researchers in one's field but warned against "serial conference junkies whose research journeys do not extend much further than a mere conference report."
Dr Pillay emphasised the importance of finding a life balance between work and home, saying that if you are not fulfilled in one, you are unlikely to be fulfilled in the other. “Striving to achieve a dynamic equilibrium between both is critical to one’s success.”
Dr Pillay went on to encourage researchers to claim their place in the scientific landscape.
"Artists have a phobia of the word scientist. Your discipline is a science in itself. You are constantly researching without even knowing it; the research you are doing is the process leading to the production of the output."
He concluded by encouraging researchers to weave excellence, ethics and empathy into the fabric of their research. “The hallmark of a successful department, faculty or institution is its ability to be responsive to changes. Keep things simple and remove complexity.”
Prof Nalini Moodley, Executive Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Design (FAD).
At the event, Prof Nalini Moodley, Executive Dean, also shared some interesting statistics on the growth of the Faculty's research output, which has increased from 17.05 units in 2021 to 40.75 units in 2022. The number of Master's and PhD graduates has also increased significantly over the same period (from 5 to 16).
When asked for her views on the mix and volume of research undertaken in the Faculty, Prof Moodley said, "This is indicative of the diversity of knowledge and skills that this Faculty has. Students are exposed to a broad spectrum of expertise that certainly enrich the teaching and learning experiences of the academic project. Further, a showcase such as this really provides an opportunity for us all to share what we are passionate about and what those drivers are. It is particularly rewarding to take note of the mix of researchers, from full professors to students who have just completed their Master’s degrees. This is building capacity and ensuring that there is certainly a transfer of skills taking place.”
The event ended on a high and fitting note with the announcement that Dr Anna-Marie Jansen van Vuuren, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Visual Communication (Motion Picture Production), has been promoted to Associate Professor.
The Research Showcase was a rich and varied treasure trove of eighteen ten-minute presentations by academics from a range of disciplines who gave an insight into their fascinating research. These covered everything from how consumers consume, maintain and dispose of clothing to how Tsonga rap artist, Sjo Madjozi, reimagines tradition while demonstrating that contemporary African cultural identities are in a constant state of flux.
For a list of all presentations and speaker biographies, please click here.