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NRF Turns 20 - CEO’s that led the NRF since establishment

Dr Molapo Qhobela (2016 – to current)

Dr Molapo Qhobela has been appointed the Chief Executive Officer of the National Research Foundation (NRF) of South Africa with effect from 1 January 2016. He is a seasoned executive leader with extensive policy and administration experience that has seen him head up the development of a significant number of policy and strategy documents, which have shaped the nature and operations of South African universities as well as the education system in general. He has exceptional knowledge of the South African Higher Education System and the National System of Innovation and has established well-seeded international relationships and networks with funders and government entities over the years.

His prior appointments include Vice-Principal: Institutional Development at the University of South Africa; Deputy Director-General at the Department of Science and Technology; Deputy Director-General and Acting Director-General of the Department of Higher Education and Training.

Dr Qhobela obtained his PhD (Plant Pathology) from Kansas State University and a BSc (Botany and Zoology) from the University of Zimbabwe.

Prior appointments include:
Department of Science and Technology (2010–2011) as Deputy Director-General:
Human Capital and Knowledge Systems;
Department of Higher Education and Training (2007–2009) Deputy Director-General and Acting Director-General;
Department of Education (1998–2007) Chief Director: Higher Education Policy and Development Support and Acting Deputy Director General: Further Education and Training;
University of Cape Town (1993–1998) Lecturer: Microbiology;
Rhodes University (1991–1993) Lecturer: Microbiology;
Ministry of Agriculture and Marketing, Lesotho (1984–1990) Research Officer.

Dr Beverley Damonse (10 months in 2015)

Dr Beverley Damonse is the Group Executive: Science Engagement and Corporate Relations of the National Research Foundation (NRF) of South Africa. The NRF is the premier research and science development agency in South Africa that promotes South Africa’s research interests across the country and internationally.

Her responsibilities include driving and implementing policy and strategy development in the areas of research advancement and technology; public communication and engagement with science; science education; as well as corporate communications and stakeholder engagement.

She has more than a decade of executive leadership experience. She was the Executive Director of the South African Agency for Science and Technology Advancement (SAASTA) from 2003 to 2012 and served as the Acting CEO of the NRF for an interim period of 10 months in 2015. She has well-established international networks and has represented the NRF in various international portfolios and platforms.

She is a member of The International Women’s Forum of South Africa (IWFSA); the NRF Board; the Advisory Boards of the South African Young Academy of Science (SAYAS); and the Scienza Science Centre at the University of Pretoria. She is a past member of the Technology and Human Resources for Industry Programme (THRIP) Advisory Board, and the Board of the Cape Town Science Centre.

She obtained a BSc (Microbiology and Plant Pathology), BEd and MEd from the then University of Natal (now University of KwaZulu-Natal) and a Doctorate (Education Policy and Management) from the University of Pretoria.

Dr Albert van Jaarsveld (2009 – 2015)

Dr Albert van Jaarsveld is currently Director General and CEO of the International Institute of Applied Systems Analysis in Laxenburg, Austria.

He was the Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of KwaZulu-Natal and assumed duty on the 2 February 2015. He was until recently Chief Executive Officer of the National Research Foundation (NRF). His career in research, teaching and leadership include academic and management positions at the Universities of Pretoria and Stellenbosch, as Dean of Science, Adjunct Professor: Environmental Studies Programme at Dartmouth College, USA, Vice President and President and CEO of the National Research Foundation.

He obtained his PhD in Zoology from the University of Pretoria. He then pursued his post-doctoral studies and research in Conservation Biology and Global security in Australia and the UK respectively and completed executive management training at Harvard University. His research work focused on biodiversity and conservation planning, biodiversity and climate change as well as ecosystem services. He was appointed full Professor at both the Universities of Pretoria and Stellenbosch and has published over 100 primary research papers, including highly cited works in Science and Nature.

During his tenure as CEO of the NRF, the budget increased from R 2billion to R 4billion and the organisation contributed to driving excellence and transformation across the national research landscape. Over this period ISI research, outputs increased by 48% and PhD graduations by 57%. The number of NRF rated researchers increased by 56%, black rated researchers by 55% and women rated researchers by 36%. The NRF increased doctoral support by 48% and the global research citation impact of South African science increased by 25% between 2009 and 2014. The Southern African Large Telescope (SALT) also became operational at this time, Africa won the SKA bid , and there was an increase in infrastructure investment at Universities and Science Councils . Capital investments of R300m were made to rejuvenate the National Research Facilities.

Dr van Jaarsveld is recipient of numerous Professional Awards, including awards as an Outstanding Young Scientist; Outstanding Academic Achiever; the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Tuition and Learning from the University of Pretoria; University of Stellenbosch Vice-Chancellors award for Research Excellence; and the Centenary Medal for distinguished career in research, teaching and leadership from the “South African Academy of Science and Arts”. He is co-recipient of the International Zayed prize for the Environment, a member of several professional and academic organisations and associations, including being a Fellow of the Royal Society of South Africa and an elected member of the South African Academy of Sciences.

On the international front, Dr van Jaarsveld has served as co-chair of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment follow-up: Sub-global assessments; member of the ICSU nominations committee; as IPBES science focal point; Chair of the G8 science ministers Group of Senior Officials on Global Research Infrastructure; and Chair of the International Group of Funding Agencies (IGFA), Co-Chair of the Belmont Forum and as a member of the ICSU review panel (2013-2014).

Professor Mzamo Mangaliso (2006 – 2008)

Professor Mzamo Mangaliso is a former President and Chief Executive Officer of the National Research Foundation, Pretoria, South Africa. Previously, he was a tenured professor at the Isenberg School of Management, University of Massachusetts-Amherst, MA, where he has been teaching since 1988.

Born in South Africa, he holds a BSc in Chemistry and Physics, and a Graduate Diploma in Math and Science both from the University of Fort Hare (SA); an MBA from Cornell University; and a PhD in Strategic Management from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA.

before becoming a university professor, Professor Mangaliso’s career included a stint as a Metallurgical Research Analyst at the Harmony Gold Mines in South Africa; another as a bank teller in Johannesburg; and several years as Production Manager at Unilever in Durban, South Africa.

From 1985 to 1990, Professor Mangaliso served as Co-Director of the South African Student Orientation Programme at Denison University in Granville, Ohio. The program was administered by the Institute of International Education and funded by a grant from the United States Agency for International Development.

At the University of Massachusetts, Professor Mangaliso has served as MBA Program Director (1990-92), as a Faculty Senator (1996-99), and later as coordinator of the PhD program in Strategic Management. Professor Mangaliso was also a President and Fellow of the Eastern Academy of Management in 2001-02. He has served as Director of the International Conference on Managing in a Global Economy.

Dr Khotso Mokhele (1999 – 2006)

Dr Khotso Mokhele was the Chancellor of the UFS in the year 2010.

He was awarded a BSc Agriculture from Fort Hare University and continued his studies at the University of California Davis on the prestigious Fulbright-Hays Scholarship Programme, completing his MSc (Food Science) and PhD (Microbiology). He was subsequently a postdoctoral fellow at Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore, Maryland, USA) and the University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA).

Dr Mokhele is the recipient of honorary doctorates from eight South African universities, including the University of the Free State and Rutgers University in the United States.

As President and CEO of the Foundation for Research Development (FRD) (1996-1999) and the National Research Foundation (NRF) from 1999 to 2006, Dr Mokhele played a central role in providing visionary and strategic direction to the South African science system. He was the Founder President of the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAF), Chairperson of the Economic Advisory Council to the Premier of the Free State (2001-2004), and a member of the Advisory Council on Innovation to the Minister of Science and Technology (2003-2007). His role in securing government and international support for the Southern African Large Telescope (SALT) Project is evidence of his dedication to science in South Africa. The success of this project laid the basis for South Africa being selected to host more than 70% of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA), an international mega telescope for radio astronomy. In recognition of his contribution to the development of science, he was the recipient of the Technology Top 100 Lifetime Achievers Award in 2009 and the National Science and Technology Forum Award in 2005.

His role in science is recognised internationally. He was elected Vice-President: Scientific Planning and Review of the International Council for Science (ICSU) and Chairperson of its Committee for Scientific Planning and Review (2005-2008), as well as a member of the Committee on Developing and Transition Economy Countries of the International Social Science Council (2008-2010). He also represented South Africa on the executive board of UNESCO and was awarded the Member Legion of Honour of the Republic of France for his work in strengthening scientific ties between South Africa and France.

Dr Mokhele’s current corporate positions include: Non-Executive Chairman: Board of Directors, Impala Platinum Holdings Ltd (Implats) and Adcock Ingram Holdings Ltd; Non-Executive Director: African Oxygen Ltd (Afrox), Zimbabwe Platinum Holdings Ltd (Zimplats), Hans Merensky Holdings Ltd, and Tiger Brands Ltd. He is the President of the Hans Merensky Foundation (South Africa) and a Trustee of SciDev.Net (a web-based scientific magazine based in London, UK) and Start International Inc. (USA). He was Chairman of the Rhodes Scholarship Selection Committee for Botswana, Malawi, Namibia, Lesotho, and Swaziland (2007–2011) and had served on the South Africa at Large Rhodes Scholarship Selection Committee for more than 10 years.