Page 20 - UCT2012 Research Dashboard

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UCT Signature
Themes for
What research challenge could faculties propose to tackle,
that would not only be embedded in our location in Africa
but would also be of global importance?
This was one of the questions that led to the formation of
signature themes at UCT, which encourage collaborative,
interdisciplinary research that crosses disciplinary and
faculty boundaries. Through a rigorous ‘bottom up’
process, faculties responded to a call to come up with
problem-based collaborative research themes that would
capture the imagination of students and lead to exciting
discoveries. Over and above the strong research groups
operating across the university, the signature theme
framework intends to stimulate cross-faculty collaboration
that would result in more than ’business as usual‘.
Through a competitive process and with limited seed
funding, five themes were established between 2006 and
2007: African Cities, Brain and Behaviour, Drug Discovery,
Marine Research, and Minerals to Metals. More recently,
through a strategic process led by the Vice-Chancellor, the
African Climate and Development Initiative emerged as the
sixth signature theme in 2011. Strong academic leadership
and a vibrant research team are part and parcel of the
signature theme concept. To date, the themes have been
able to demonstrate the leveraging ability and impact of
their world-class research, not only on their immediate
environment but also more broadly on the global south.
As hubs that attract increasing numbers of postgraduate
students and postdoctoral fellows, the themes excel but
remain under pressure to maintain a leading edge.
Centres of
Excellence and
Funded by the South African Department of Science
and Technology, the national centres of excellence and
competence centres act as hubs for high-quality research and
development in areas of national priority. The centres and
nodes often involve significant interdisciplinary collaboration
with other universities, publicly-funded research organisations,
governments, and industry. They serve as important research
training sites for postgraduate students.
UCT hosts two national Centres of Excellence, Birds as
Keys to Biodiversity Conservation, and c*change, and
co-hosts a node of the Centre of Excellence for Biomedical
TB Research. UCT also co-hosts the Hydrogen Catalysis
Competence Centre with Mintek.
The Centres of Excellence are managed by the National
Research Foundation.
A significant part of the exciting and diverse research
carried out at UCT occurs within formal research groups,
which incorporate members and students from across
departments and faculties. Both through discipline-specific
and cross-disciplinary approaches, their research is making
a significant contribution towards understanding and
alleviating some of society's major challenges.
At the end of 2012, there were 71 formally constituted
research groupings at UCT. These included five newly-
accredited groupings in 2012: African Collaboration for
Quantitative Finance and Risk Research (Commerce), the
Policy Research in International Services and Manufacturing
(Commerce), the UCT Tourism and Events Research Unit
(Commerce), Centre for Transport Studies (Engineering
& the Built Environment), and the Lung Infection and
Immunity Unit (Health Sciences).