SAAB Awards for 2013

Gold Medal Award 2013 – Prof Kobus Eloff

SAAB President, Nokwanda Makunga, presented Professor Kobus Eloff with the SAAB Gold Medal Award at the 2013 Annual Conference

Jacobus (Kobus) Nicolaas Eloff was born in Johannesburg in 1939 and was professor at Free State, Cape Town and Pretoria Universities, Executive Director National Botanic Gardens (Head Office Kirstenbosch) and Research Director National Botanical Institute. Currently, he is the research professor and leader of the interdisciplinary Phytomedicine Programme, Veterinary Science, University of Pretoria.

As a foundation member of SAAB and one of the first presidents, his main contributions to Botany were in changing the research culture of the National Botanical Gardens and managing the amalgamation with the Botanical Research Institute to form the National Botanical Institute. He also amalgamated the Journal of South African Botany with South African Journal of Botany and was Scientific Editor of these two Journals for 16 years.

He is the editor of 6 volumes Annals of Kirstenbosch Botanic Gardens. Presently, he is the editor of the ‘Suid-Afrikaanse Tydskrif vir Natuurwetenskap en Tegnologie’, member Editorial Panel South African Journal of Botany, Editor-in Chief International Journal for Phytomedicine. He has been invited to review manuscripts for 133 different scientific journals.

Amongst his greatest accolades, is the fact that he has supervised over 46 MSc and 31 PhD students. More than 170 papers, have been presented by Prof Eloff at international scientific conferences. His publication record consists of more than 190 peer evaluated scientific publications. He is rated by the NRF as a B-category internationally recognised researcher and has been appointed by European Unions agent Centre for the Development of Enterprise to develop Pan-African quality control standards and monographs for African Medicinal plants. He has had a leading role in the production of African Herbal Pharmacopoeia and is a member of many national and international professional societies, where he continues to function in a leadership role.

Amongst his awards is the recent Senior Medal for Botany (Gold medal) from South African Association of Botanists. In fact, Volume 65 of South African Journal of Botany was dedicated to him. He also was awarded the Havenga prize and the Gold medal of the Suid-Afrikaanse Akademie vir Wetenskap en Kuns for discoveries with important practical applications in the medicinal plant field. Several patents and products have been licensed to Industrial Companies based on his group’s research.

In 2012, he received the National Science and Technology Forum Eskom Prize for capacity development and the Gold medal from Academy for Science of South Africa.

His most valued treasures, however, are his wife, two daughters and five grandchildren.

Silver Medal Award 2013 – Prof Alvaro Viljoen

Born in 1969, Pretoria South Africa. Completed a BSc, BSc Hons. (cum laude) and MSc (cum laude) in Botany at Stellenbosch University. In 1994 Alvaro commenced with a PhD at the University of Johannesburg on the chemotaxonomy of the genus Aloe (supervised by Prof Ben-Erik van Wyk) which was completed in 1999. In 1999 he was appointed lecturer in Pharmaceutical Chemistry in the Department of Pharmacy, University of the Witwatersrand. In 2000 Alvaro established a Pharmacognosy research group in the Department of Pharmacy and Pharmacology and supervised 25 postgraduate students in the group. Forty-five post-graduate students have graduated under his supervision since 2002. In 2002 he was promoted to senior lecturer at the University of the Witwatersrand and in 2005 to Associate Professor at the same institution. In July 2005 Alvaro was appointed as a research fellow in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Tshwane University of Technology (Pretoria). His research interest is the phytochemistry and biological activity of medicinal and aromatic plants indigenous to South Africa. He has authored / co-authored 160 peer reviewed publications and presented over 200 papers / posters at scientific meetings which includes 20 plenary lectures. Based on research contributions in the field of medicinal and aromatic plants he has been elected on to the editorial board of the Journal of Essential Oil Research (Francis & Taylor), he is an associate editor of Journal of Ethnopharmacology (Elsevier) and reviewing-editor for South African Journal of Botany (Elsevier). Alvaro has recently been elected on to the Advisory Board of the American Botanical Council.

Selected awards:

      • Best Young Scientist Award for the best presentation delivered by a young scientist (younger than 30) at the National Congress of the South African Association of Botanists (1995).
      • The Vice Chancellor’s Friedel Sellschop Award from the University of the Witwatersrand. A research grant awarded (3 years) to an outstanding young scientist (2001-2003).
      • An award from the South African Academy of Pharmaceutical Sciences for the best peer-reviewed paper in the field of Pharmaceutics published in 2005 and again for a paper published in 2008. In 2006 he received an award from the same association for the best publication in the field of Pharmaceutical Chemistry.
      • TUT’s Senior Researcher of the Year, awarded in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011.