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 Dean's Welcome Message

Author: Professor Michael Davies-Coleman

 Welcome to the web page of the Faculty of Natural Science at the University of Western Cape.

Welcome to 2020 Science@UWC


Welcome to the web page of the Faculty of Natural Science at the University of Western Cape.


At the start of the third decade of the twenty first century, and the 60th anniversary of the founding of the University of Western Cape, The Faculty of Natural Science is well placed to make a difference in an ever-changing global society with an exponentially increasing dependence on technology.  In the past decade an investment of ca. R1.3 billion has been made in science infrastructure and research facilities in the Faculty. Since 2010 the Faculty has been the recipient of new, state-of-the-art Chemical, Life Sciences and Computational and Mathematical Sciences buildings and has been the beneficiary of an influx of high-end research equipment.  Concomitant with this investment, the Faculty has been able to annually graduate record numbers of MSc and PhD graduates, and continuously increase its outputs of peer-reviewed research publications in national and international journals.


The Faculty of Natural Science encompasses nine academic Departments and a School of Pharmacy, four research Institutes, two research centres and two research units.  The 2020 academic programme will offer ten undergraduate degrees and one professional pharmacy degree. At the postgraduate level the Faculty offers twelve different honours degrees, one post-graduate diploma in integrated water resource management and MSc, MPhil and PhD degrees in a wide range of scientific disciplines.   This year we hope to accommodate over 3700 students in the Faculty, of which, 780 will be first time entrants into university, and just over 28% of the total number of our science students will be postgraduates.


The Faculty of Natural Sciences is committed to excellence in undergraduate learning and teaching and in 2019 staff members in the Faculty were the recipients of a Higher Educational Learning and Teaching Association of South Africa commendation for our Maths Turnaround Project, which saw a doubling of the success rate of our students in second year undergraduate mathematics. We plan to expand this programme in 2020. The Faculty’s young computer scientists continue to excel in national competitions and three of our students have been selected for the South African undergraduate computer cluster team to compete in the International Undergraduate Computer Cluster Competition to be held in Germany later this year.   Cognizant of the university’s role in preparing young South Africans for the challenges and exciting opportunities of the 4th Industrial Revolution, the first cohort of students to graduate with a postgraduate diploma in E-skills Development (specializing in the immersive technologies of virtual and augmented reality) graduated at the end of 2019.  Coupled with a recent overhaul of the undergraduate and postgraduate computer science programme, to emphasize 4IR technologies, there has been an increasing demand for places in our Honours and Masters Statistical Science programmes specializing in data science. 


Applied research and innovation is a key driver of research across the Faculty.  From researching new ways to tap into alternative energy sources eg via platinum based hydrogen fuel cells, to the discovery of new commercially exploitable, “green,” biosurfactants (produced by bacteria collected from extreme environments), to developing a novel Y Chromosome test kit for identifying male perpetrators of sexual violence, the Faculty is making great strides in research and innovation with societal impact.   The seven South African Research Chairs in the Faculty continually strengthen the international footprints of our premier niche research areas including, inter alia, radio astronomy, nanoscience, nuclear physics, material science (including sensor technology), metagenomics and health bioinformatics.  Researching  the consequences of global environmental challenges, like climate change, are also key research foci for many of our biologists, chemists and water scientists, while the ongoing exploration and beneficiation of South Africa’s abundant natural resources drives much of the multi-disciplinary research in the Faculty.


The News links on the Faculty Homepage are regularly updated and archived and provide interesting up-to -date a snapshots of what is happening in our vibrant and productive Faculty.


Finally, the availability of world class infrastructure and expensive research equipment is undoubtedly important to enable the accelerated success of the science research programme at UWC. However, it is the commitment and dedication of the academic and professional support staff, working together with enthusiastic under-graduate and post-graduate students, who are the ultimate architects of the Faculty’s success. 


Thank you for visiting our web page.  


Professor Mike Davies-Coleman

Dean of Natural Sciences

January 2020




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