RSSAf Fellow awarded UP’s highest honour

Apr 28, 2015 No Comments by

Professor Don Cowan, Director of both the Genomics Research Institute and the Centre for Microbial Ecology and Genomics, was awarded the University of Pretoria Chancellor’s Medal for Research, UP’s highest research honour.   The award was announced on the 24th April at a special gala occasion to pay tribute to academics that have shown exceptional achievement in the preceding year.

He conducts research on microbial ecology, microbial genomics and applied microbiology, and he and his team use genomic and metagenomic methods to gain an understanding of the diversity and function of microorganisms in different environments. Much of his research focuses on the microbiology of extreme environments, including hot (Nambia) and cold (Antarctic) desert soils. He collaborates with many other research laboratories in South Africa and across the word, including Nambia, Kenya, Zambia, Spain, Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, the UK, Germany and the USA. He has supervised research on the rhizospheric zones of economic crop plant species, peat-bogs in southern Argentina and endophytes of the enigmatic Welwitschia and other endemic south-west African plant species.

Professor Cowan has published more than 275 research papers, review articles and chapters in books, and serves on the editorial boards of 12 international journals. He has an h-index of 35 (ISI Web of Science) and is listed among the top 1% of international researchers in Thompson’s ISI Essential Science Indicator.

In the course of his career he has successfully supervised 28 PhD and 38 MSc students. He currently supervises a research team consisting of four research fellows, 11 postdoctoral researchers, nine PhD and five MSc students. Professor Cowan holds the post of adjunct professor at the University of Waikato (NZ) and was elected as a Fellow of the Roya Society of South Africa in 2007, as a member

of the Academy of Sciences of South Africa in 2008, and as an honorary fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand in 2009. He was awarded the University of the Western Cape Vice-Rector’s Award for Research Excellence in 2008, the South African Society for Microbiology Medal for Research Excellence in 2009 and the National Science and Technology Forum’s Capacity Development award

in 2014. He is the immediate past president of the Roya Society of South Africa. Professor Cowan received an A rating from the NRF in 2013.

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