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Friday, 18 April 2008

CPUT researchers receive new NRF ratings

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The National Research Foundation (NRF) evaluation and rating system is regarded as one of the most prestigious benchmarks of research excellence in South Africa.

The most recent rating announcement took place in December 2007. Among this year’s recipients were Dr Cecilia Jacobs of the Engineering Faculty, who received an L rating, and Dr Richardt Wilkinson of the Electrical Engineering Department who received a rating of Y- Y2. In addition Prof Pieter van Brakel of the Faculty of Informatics and Design, who was previously rated by the NRF in 2002, received a rating renewal of C - C3.

Dr Cecelia Jacobs is currently co-leader of the Work-Integrated Learning Research Unit, a formally recognised niche area within the NRF. She has published thirteen peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters and twenty-four national and international conference papers. Among her achievements are the submission of a successful funding proposal for an institution-wide Tertiary Education Linkages Project (TELP) in 1999 which produced a Communication Series of 10 textbooks published by Juta. She also convened the first national conference on “Integrating content and language: Providing access to knowledge through language” in 2001

Dr Jacobs’s body of work concerns the way in which knowledge is structured in different disciplines, and how that knowledge is communicated through discipline-specific language. In her own words, “understanding the way in which a discipline reads and writes itself.” As the recently appointed Teaching and Learning Co-ordinator in the Faculty of Engineering, she continues to encourage collaboration between language practitioners and disciplinary specialists.

Dr Richardt Wilkinson's area of specialisation is power electronics. This field of study looks at how electrical power can be converted from one level to another using electronically controlled switches instead of transformers. Power electronics has implications for renewable energy technologies and research into this field is likely to contribute to solving the current energy crisis.

Dr Wilkinson first became interested in power electronics when he studied the subject as part of his B.Eng at Stellenbosch University . He pursued this interest further in his Masters thesis and PhD studies. His relationship with CPUT began in 2005, when he joined the Centre for Instrumentation Research (CIR) as a postdoctoral research fellow working on inverters to drive ultrasonic transducers. He was appointed as a senior researcher in January 2007 and tasked with jointly running the Centre for Instrumentation Research with Dr Ian de Vries. He was appointed Head of the Centre in January 2008.

Prof Pieter van Brakel was a well-established specialist in the field of info rmation science when he joined the CPUT staff in 2005. At CPUT, he headed the postgraduate office of the e-Innovation Academy (now amalgamated with the Faculty of Informatics and Design). During his academic career, he has published sixty one journal articles in DoE accredited journals and supervised thirty-seven masters and doctoral students.

Prof Van Brakel currently serves as Head of the Research Support Office in the Faculty of Informatics and Design. He also holds the NRF Grant for the programme. “Virtual Communities of Practice” This forward-looking area of research looks at how info rmation technology helps support academic info rmation and knowledge exchange between researchers who are geographically distant from each other. “Information is needed to make good decisions, and info rmation management cannot happen without info rmation technology,” says Prof Van Brakel, commenting on the continuing importance of info rmation science in contemporary society.

Research was been cited as an important growth area for CPUT. The newly rated staff members form part of a productive research community who continue to increase the academic output of the institution.

By Ilana Abratt, Marketing and Communication Department

Written by CPUT News

Email: news@cput.ac.za