CPUT’s Virtual Open Day is now open! Click here to visit >>>

Monday, 04 May 2020

Communication is key for Rooibos researcher

NOMINATED: Prof Jeanine Marnewick NOMINATED: Prof Jeanine Marnewick

Prof Jeanine Marnewick loves spreading the word about Rooibos and its health properties and her passion has earned her a nomination for a prestigious award.


Marnewick, Director of the Applied Microbial and Health Biotechnology Institute and Research Chair: Biotechnology, is in the running for the Communication Award of the National Science and Technology Foundation (NSTF)-South 32 Awards.


The awards were established in 1998 as a collaborative effort to recognise outstanding contributions to Science, Engineering and Technology (SET) and innovation by SET-related professionals and organisations in South Africa.

Marnewick was nominated and chosen as a finalist in the same category in 2018.

“Elucidating the health properties and substantiating health claims around Rooibos as well as disseminating these findings are the key objectives of our research. Rooibos, a proudly South African herbal tea now adopted under the Nagoya Protocol, serves as a complementary strategy to ensure increased daily intake of important bio-actives as a health promoting and/or disease preventing option,” she says.

She raises public awareness about her work mainly through print media, broadcast media and the Internet in addition to invited formal lectures, and public/lay presentations.

“Each of these communications ultimately have the purpose of informing the public, the consumer, and the industries of new contributions our research studies have made to the field. Accessibility is a critical factor in these communications and as such I avail myself to the media, and through the years I have built good relationships with various journalists and promotions/media companies.”

Marnewick believes that through effective communication, societies and local industries are benefiting from the research outcomes. She adds that for the consumer this means providing them with scientifically substantiated information to make a better-informed choice/decision about what consumer goods to buy that will contribute to their overall health.


For the industries the scientific outcomes and communications serve as value additions to their rooibos products, be it the farmer, the producers or the niche area such as beauty and health.

Asked about her career highlights, Marnewick said there had been many but in the communication environment it has “been the knowledge growth I have experienced over the past few years of the consumer and industry about the health promoting properties of Rooibos. This is a clear indication that the research we are doing is relevant and important to our communities and industries.”

Written by Ilse Fredericks

Email: Frederickskennediji@cput.ac.za