This year's South African Women in Science Awards (WISA) has recognised three female scientists from Stellenbosch University (SU) for their contribution to science and technology research, profiling them as role models for younger women. Dr Evodia Setati (Institute for Wine Biotechnology) was a winner in the category: Distinguished Woman Researchers in Natural (Life and Physical) and Engineering Sciences, while Professor Karen Esler (Department of Conservation Ecology and Entomology) and Professor Soraya Bardien (Division of Molecular Biology and Human Genetics) finished second and third respectively.
The annual WISA ceremony was part of the Department of Science and Technology's celebration of Women's Month.
A senior researcher at the Institute for Wine Biotechnology in the Department of Viticulture and Oenology, Setati won the award for her work on the microbial ecology of the vineyard and wine fermentation ecosystem and how this is influenced by farming practices. Her research has contributed to an improved understanding of the South African vineyard and wine fermentation microbiome and its possible contribution to wine chemical and sensorial properties.
Setati said the award "is a sign of progression, it means I am finally reaping the fruits of my labour and for my work it means more exposure to potential collaborators especially from historically disadvantaged institutions. It is an important recognition for the relevance and impact of my research."
Rated by the National Research Foundation (NRF), Setati published a number of peer-reviewed articles in leading international journals and also supervised many postgraduate students. She is a member of the South African Society of Microbiology as well as the South African Society for Enology and Viticulture. Sesati is also a commissioner on the International Commission for Yeasts, a trustee on the Pioneer Foods Education and Community Trust, and a sub-editor on the South African Journal for Enology and Viticulture.
Esler was honoured for her research excellence in ecology including ecosystem restoration and invasion biology. Also an NRF-rated researcher, she is considered a world leader in her field and has supervised many postgraduate students.
"I feel privileged to be counted amongst the winners. Research is rewarding and exciting and if I can continue to promote women in higher education by providing a role model to others, I'd be satisfied," said Esler.