Johannesburg: Wits University’s Dr Bernard Coetzee is the second winner of the $150 000 (R2.5 million) Jennifer Ward Oppenheimer Grant.
Coetzee, who is the from the university’s Global Change Institute, was awarded the grant which is aimed at supporting African-led research programmes at an event held in Rosebank on Thursday.
The Jennifer Ward Oppenheimer (JWO) Grant was established to support an research programme that has the potential to contribute to the advancement of environmental and allied sciences and to identify and address real-world issues that affect Africa.
“I am so grateful for the opportunity I have been given to undertake this important research.
I look forward to expanding the network across Africa and collaborating in a way that makes our proposed solutions to the benefit not only for development and growth on the continent but also for the good health and well-being of our people,” said Coetzee.
His research aims to understand the impact of the use of artificial light in Africa and how it may increase vector disease transmission – malaria, Zika virus and dengue fever.
Malaria affects millions of people in Africa annually and kills an estimated 700 000 people every year around the globe.
His research could help with understanding ways to ensure the promotion of affordable and energy efficient artificial lighting technologies at the household scale that do not increase human health risks.
Bridget Fury, the head of the Oppenheimer Generations Philanthropies and chairperson of the JWO Grant expert panel, said Coetzee had presented a superb proposal and congratulated him for the award.
“We are excited about what his research will tell us about this important, understudied topic. We also want to thank all 217 participants this year. It was a tough decision due to the exceptionally high quality of the submissions.
“Whilst there can be only one winner, we would encourage all those who applied to the JWO Grant to continue pursuing their work to propose solutions that develop Africa in a sustainable way,” said Fury. | IOL