SAAB Awards for 2018

Gold Medal Award: Prof A.E. (Braam)van Wyk

Prof. van Wyk has received a number of awards for his work including the SAAB silver medal (2002), the Havenga Prize for Life Sciences awarded by the South African Academy for Science and Arts (2010),  the Marloth Medal awarded by the Botanical Society of South Africa (2013),  the North West University Alumni Award of Excellence (2015),  and he has been the recipient of the Exceptional Achiever Awards conferred by the University of Pretoria six times. His contribution to plant taxonomy is evident from the fact that five plant species have his name as eponym.

Prof. van Wyk’s is a B3 rated (NRF) scientist  with over 400 publications. He has held the Louis Botha Chair in General Botany at the University of Pretoria since 1989 (for the past 28 years).  At the same time he has served as Curator of the H.G.W.J. Schweickerdt Herbarium at the University of Pretoria.

Prof. van Wyk has consistently challenged and inspired students at the University of Pretoria through his teaching.  Student feedback has always been exceptional, and several students have
commented that his courses were the best they ever attended at university, or that his courses inspired them to pursue a career in the broader field of plant sciences. He has graduated 30 MSc and 28 PhD students.

His influence on taxonomy and botany in South Africa is evident from the fact that his former students occupy a range of scientific positions at several institutions in South Africa and beyond (with a large number of them currently employed at the South African National Biodiversity Institute, the major custodian of taxonomic material and data in South Africa).


Silver Medal Award:  Prof Sarel Cilliers

Prof Cilliers is widely regarded in urban ecological circles as the
“Father of Urban Ecology in South Africa” and has made a significant impact in the areas of urban landscape ecology and urban ecology. What is particularly important is that his research provides a rare African perspective to the international arena. In particular, a major contribution has been the development of methodologies and measures to quantify the urban-rural gradient. Prof Cilliers’ most important contribution is the establishment of an extensive international network and global data set of urban plants, which has led to the publication of two highly-cited scientific articles in highly rated international journals, Global Ecology and Biogeography and Proceedings Of the Royal Society.


Certificate of Merit Award:  Mrs. Gillian Condy

Gillian Condy is a freelance botanical artist. She illustrated Geophytic Pelargoniums published in 2001 and The Grass Aloes in the South African veld 2005 and was a major contributor to the biographical section in the book Peeling Back the Petals: SA botanical art; seven plates have been published in Curtis’s Botanical Magazine; two books for the African Union; since 1982 has illustrated 14 sets of postal stamps for the Botswana Postal Services and 4 for South Africa; 2 of her paintings are found on the Blue Train, a project she helped co-ordinated; Gunnera manicata appears in Volume one of the Highgrove Florilegium; four artworks have recently been accepted for the Transylvania Florilegium to be published in 2017 and 2018 and one of her work features in the Sydney Florilegium published in 2016.


Bronze Medal AwardDr Robyn F. Powell for her thesis titled:

“Systematics, diversification and ecology of the Conophytum-clade
(Ruschieae; Aizoaceae)”.


Best PhD:  D. MacAlister

Best MSc: B.D. Fibrich

Best Honours Student:  A. Siebritz

Best Young Botanist:  B.D. Fibrich

Best Poster Prize in Medicinal Plant Science/Ethnobotany: S.H. Chauke

Best Poster in Ecology: A. Chetty

Best Poster in Physiology/Biotechnology: L.T. Takawira

Best Poster in Systematics: K.S. Mashego

Best Lightening Award: E .Coetser