TUT’s B-rated Scientist receives over eight million National Research Foundation grant

by Phaphama Tshisikhawe

3 February 2023

Prof Alvaro Viljoen, a B-rated Scientist and Director at Tshwane University of Technology’s Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences SAMRC Herbal Drugs Research Unit has been awarded over R8 Million grant from the National Research Foundation’s National Equipment Programme (NEP) for his outstanding research projects.

Prof Alvaro Viljoen.

The prestigious grant was made after a highly competitive peer review process that makes funds available to support the acquisition, upgrade or development of state-of-the-art research equipment. This involves major items of equipment that support multi-disciplinary and inter-disciplinary research and usually requires significant capital investment. 

Speaking on the grant, Prof Viljoen, who is also the DSI-NRF Chair in Phytomedicine said he was elated. “This recognition is testimony, not only to myself but to my entire team’s ground-breaking research work conducted over the years on medicinal plants. We are truly grateful to bring this new and innovative technology to our institution ,” he said.

As a scientist of many accolades, Prof Viljoen has authored/co-authored more than 280 peer-reviewed papers and supervised more than 80 postgraduate students on the topic of phytochemical exploration and biological activity of indigenous medicinal and aromatic plants. He currently enjoys an h-index of 50, which confirms his national and international recognition in his research field.  

Based on his research contributions in the field of medicinal and aromatic plants, he has been elected to the editorial boards of several journals. He is the Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Ethnopharmacology (Elsevier), a prestigious international journal in medicinal plant research. In 2013, Prof Viljoen received the SAAB Silver medal for his outstanding contribution to botanical research and in the same year, he received the TWAS-ROSSA Award from The World Academy of Sciences for advancing the knowledge on the safe and effective use of herbal medicines. 

Prof Viljoen adds that he aims to continue driving himself to maintain research excellence and “to remain at the forefront of research in my field, to continue playing a leading role, and to produce work that will continue to form the foundation for future research endeavours,” said Prof Viljoen.

The Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Research, Innovation and Engagement, Dr Vathiswa Papu-Zamxaka said the grant, together with Prof Viljoen’s research output are something to be very proud of. “The funding will definitely go a long way in optimising the University’s strategic commitment to conducting high-impact research that will further produce future-ready graduates, who are educated, and trained to make a positive societal impact,” she concluded.

Prof Alvaro Viljoen.

For more information on the Tshwane University of Technology, please contact Phaphama Tshisikhawe, Corporate Affairs and Marketing.
Tel: +27 12 382 4711 / +27 66 211 1441   Email: tshisikhawerpt@tut.ac.za