SAAB Awards for 2012

Gold Medal Award 2012 – Prof Norman Pammenter

Prof Norman Pammenter has an interesting academic journey which led him to botany as he was trained in physics and chemistry but this led him to pursue a botanical direction as part of his postgraduate training. He obtained a PhD degree from the University of Leeds and he combined his love of botany, chemistry and physics and delved into the area of ecophysiology. He has an impressive international publication record which largely contributes to the area of desiccation tolerance and sensitivity with a particular focus on recalcitrant seeds. As his scientific interests are broad and multidirectional, he has established himself in the areas spanning from ecology through to biophysics, maximizing on his undergraduate training. His work has provided significant findings in the areas of seed biology through to the use of biotechnological tools for cryopreservation of unique and rare plant species. He focuses his attention also on the stress effects and epigenetic influences when plant tissues are subjected to cryo-treatments. He has trained a large school of postgraduate students who have become influential in a wide variety of plant related fields and other industries. Prof Pammenter deservedly received the Gold Medal for his unrelenting contribution to South African Botany. Many of his colleagues, past students have been inspired by Prof Pammenter’s dedication to the subject and he continues to play an active role in driving South African botanical research to new heights. Together with his partner, Prof Pat Berjak (who also holds a Gold Medal), they make a formidable team that has worked in close association as leading researchers, training many postgraduate students who have continued to have illustrious scientific careers such as our past President Jill Farrant (who holds an ‘A’ rating with the National Research Foundation of South Africa).

Silver Medal Award 2012 – Prof Mary Scholes

Prof Mary Scholes, a graduate of the University of the Witwatersrand, is currently a full professor in the School of Animal, Plant and Environmental Sciences and serves as the Assistant Dean for Postgraduate Studies in the Faculty of Science. Her research activities focus on soil fertility and biogeochemistry in savannas, plantation forests and croplands. She serves as the vice-chairperson for the International Committee of Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security as well as the Secretary General for the Scientific Council on Problems in the Environment. These activities involve extensive collaborative research with a number of overseas and local institutes. Her publication record is extensive and she serves on many editorial boards. She has mentored over 60 postgraduate students and she teaches at undergraduate and postgraduate levels at the University. She is the recipient of a number of national and international awards including being elected as a foreign member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Agriculture and Forestry. She is married to Bob Scholes, a systems ecologist, and they have a 14 year old son. Mary likes to support her family as well as swimming and reading.