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Research and Innovation at UWC

The University of the Western Cape (UWC) has patented a device that could potentially save the lives of countless oral healthcare workers (OHCW). An Alberta Federation of Labour analysis looked at 100 occupations and found that OHCW – which includes dentists, oral hygienists and dental assistants – runs the highest risk of COVID-19 exposure because of the close proximity to patients’ oral cavity and respiratory tract, which contain the virus. To protect these professionals Dr Riaan Mulder and Dr Suné Mulder-van Staden at the Dental Faculty of UWC have invented a novel aerosol suction device in collaboration with the UWC Technology Transfer Office. The main advantage of the device is the extra-oral functionality that increases the visual field of view for the OHCW. The device demonstrated a greater reduction in aerosol volume than conventional high-volume suction tips during the testing phase.

This month, UWC’s annual Research Week will showcase how its research and innovation, together with its national and international partners, contributed to the advancement and wellbeing of society during this unprecedented time. 

This year, the theme of Research Week 2021 is, ‘The UWC Contribution to Fighting and Understanding the COVID-19 Pandemic’. Each Faculty will share its contribution to the fight against COVID-19 – research within the SDGs to “achieve a better and more sustainable future for all” during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Topics include the impact of COVID-19 on food security, the dynamics around the local design and manufacturing of ventilators and masks, and even waste reclaimers’ role during the pandemic.

Researchers will present and discuss their work, thereby addressing many of the common COVID-19 myths and concerns. The four-day event –28 September to 1 October – will also create a platform for engagement and active scholarship.

UWC Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research and Innovation, Professor José Frantz, said: “This moment in our history allows universities to make research count like never before. As we come to the end of our second year of dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, we realise that the only constant is change.”

Professor Burtram Fielding – Director: Research Development and Principal Investigator: Molecular Biology and Virology Research Laboratory Department of Medical BioSciences – explained that UWC has always encouraged a multi-, inter-and cross-disciplinary approach to research, involving postgraduate students, postdoctoral fellows and researchers from various faculties and disciplines.

Said Prof Fielding: “It has embedded this approach by aligning its pillars of research to the 17 interlinked United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to find solutions to global challenges. This prepared us to confront the complex pandemic issues, and to this end, all seven faculties at UWC – from Dentistry, Arts and Humanities, Law, Natural Sciences, Economic and Management Sciences, Community and Health Sciences and Education – have been involved in COVID-19 research”.

Listen to UWC Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research and Innovation, Professor José Frantz.


28 September
29 September
30 September
01 October

Research Week Opening and Covid Overview

Speaker: Prof M Smith
Time: 09:00 - 09:05

Speaker: Prof J Frantz
Time: 09:05 – 09:15

Covid Overview
Speaker: Prof B Fielding
Time: 09:15 – 09:30
Title: The Covid-19 Pandemic and the UWC response. An Overview


Faculty of Law contribution in the fight against Covid-19

Time: 09:00 – 11:00
Session Chair: Dr Oluwafunmilola Adeniyi

Speaker: Prof L Muntingh and team
Time: 09:00 – 09:30
Topic: Petty offences and SDGs
SDG: 16

Speaker: Dr R Nanima
Time: 09:30 – 10:00
Topic: Adjudication of Corporal punishment and the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 16. A Parallel engagement
SDG: 16

Speaker: Dr OF Adeniyi
Time: 10:00 – 10:30
Topic: Creating safety nets for the vulnerable in SA- COVID experiences
SDG: 1

Speaker: Dr T Kondo
Time: 10:30 – 11:00
Topic: Sustainable African Investment Governance: A Rethink in the wake of the Covid-19 Pandemic and the Phase II Negotiations on the AfCFTA Protocol on Investment
SDG: 11,16


Faculty of Community and Health Sciences contribution in the fight against Covid-19

Time: 09:00 – 11:00
Session Chair: Dr Bernard Omukunyi

Speaker: Dr Hoffman, Prof Martin, Prof Chipps
Time: 09:00 – 09:15
Topic: Stress and coping: Final year Nursing students returning to clinical practice during the Covid-19 pandemic, South Africa
SDG: 3

Speaker: Dr Hoffman, Prof Martin, Prof Chipps
Time: 09:15 – 09:25
Topic: An evaluation of a psychological first aid programme to prepare students to return to the clinical platform the Covid-19 pandemic, South Africa
SDG: 3, 4

Speaker: Prof P Mayers
Time: 09:25 – 09:40
Topic: Contact, connection, case management and care: the role of volunteers in COVID-19 contact tracing in Cape Town
SDG: 3, 4

Speaker: Dr L Grobler
Time: 09:40 – 10:00
Topic: Waste reclaimers and the revocation of permissive space in the pandemic
SDG: 1-3, 6, 8, 10,11 and 16

Speaker: Prof A Padmanabhanunni
Time: 10:00 – 10:20
Topic: The silent pandemic: Characterizing the mental health impact of CV-19 on university students
SDG: 3

Speaker: Prof VD Westhuizen
Time: 10:20 – 10:40
Topic: What happened to us and why does it matter? South African student social workers reflections on how the pandemic affected them
SDG: 4

Speaker: Prof Rhoda and Team
Time: 10:40 – 11:00
Topic: Telerehabilitation as a vehicle to address impairments, activity limitations and participation restriction in people with disabilities during a pandemic: Perspectives from the literature.
SDG: 3


Faculty of Dentistry contribution in the fight against Covid-19

Time: 09:00 – 11:15
Session Chair: Dr Al Cerillio Farao

Speaker: Dr S Lundie
Time: 09:00 – 09:05
Topic: Conceptual framework: Engaged Research-led Teaching
SDG: 3, 4

Speaker: Dr P Brijlal
Time: 09:05 – 09:15
Topic: First year reflections on online transition… “TAM” will tell
SDG: 3,4

Speaker: Prof D Smit
Time: 09:15 – 09:25
Topic: Dental research and community engaged service delivery during the COVID-19 pandemic
SDG: 3,4

Speaker: Dr A Jeftha
Time: 09:25 – 09:35
Topic: Integrating engagements amidst the COVID-19 pandemic
SDG: 3,4

Speaker: Dr T van Zyl
and Dr S Inderman
Time: 09:35 – 09:45
Topic: Futuristic movements toward the "Curriculum of Tomorrow" in Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology
SDG: 3,4

Speaker: Dr R Adam
Time: 09:45 – 09:55
Topic: The Future of Dental Education-Post COVID
SDG: 3,4

Speaker: Dr R Maart
Time: 09:55 – 10:05
Topic: Translation of COVID -19 research
SDG: 3,4

Speaker: Dr S Lundie
Time: 10:05 – 10:15
Topic: Plenary
SDG: 3,4

Speaker: Dr E Prince
Time: 10:15 – 10:30
Topic: Using evidence to manage challenges and dilemmas to keep the doors of an oral health platform open during a pandemic
SDG: 3, 10, 16

Speaker: Dr F Kimmie, Dr N Potgieter and BDS4 students
Time: 10:30 – 10:45
Topic: A survey on UWC Dental Faculty Staff and Students’ understanding and attitudes towards the COVID19 vaccinations
SDG: 3, 10, 16

Speaker: Prof N Myburgh
Time: 10:45 – 11:00
Topic: Ethical dilemmas related to compulsory vaccination for employees; POPIA, tracking and tracing contacts during a pandemic
SDG: 3, 10, 16

Speaker: Prof G Geerts
Time: 11:00 – 11:15
Topic: Panel Discussion
SDG: 3, 10, 16

Guest Speaker: Dr Boitumelo Semete (SAHPRA CEO)
Time: 11:15 – 11:45
Topic: SAHPRA vaccines authorisation process 
SDG: 3, 10, 16


Faculty of Natural Sciences contribution in the fight against Covid-19

Time: 13:00 – 15:00
Session Chair: Dr Brendon Pearce

Speaker: Dr T Suliman
Time: 13:00 – 13:25
Topic: Understanding COVID-19: The Art and Science of Growing Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus-2
SDG: 2

Speaker: Dr O Ajayi
Time: 13:25 – 13:45
Topic: Computer Science. Least Cost Remote Learning for Under-Served Communities
SDG: 4

Speaker: Dr M Ghaziasgar
Time: 13:45 – 14:05
Topic: Computer Science. Leveraging Technology for Innovation in Assessment
SDG: 4

Speaker: Dr O Ajayi
Time: 14:05 – 14:25
Topic: Computer Science. Fourth Industrial Revolution for Development: The Relevance of Cloud Federation in Healthcare Support
SDG: 9

Speaker: Dr B Bladergroen
Time: 14:25 – 14:45
Topic: SAIMIC. The dynamics around a design and local production of ventilators and face masks during Covid
SDG: 9


Research and Innovation support during the Covid-19 pandemic

Time: 13:00 – 15:00
Session Chair:Dr Samantha Douman

Speaker: Dr S Neerputh and Mr A Nqotole
Time: 13:00 – 13:20
Topic:  UWC Library Disruptors: Pandemic Solutions
SDG: 3

Speaker: Prof J May
Time: 13:20 – 13:40
Topic: Impact of COVID on food security, or on food security's place in the SDGs
SDG: 2

Speaker: Ms A Allie
Time: 13:40 – 14:00
Topic: Impact of innovations in times of Covid-19
SDG: All

Speaker: Ms M van Staden and Team
Time: 14:00 – 14:20
Topic: Covid-19 and the digitalisation of South African Language (SASL): Gendered realities of UWC students and staff
SDG: 5

Speaker: Prof M Smith
Time: 14:20 – 14:40
Topic: Impact of Covid-19 on PG enrolment, retention and throughput
SDG: 4

Head Special Projects
Speaker: Dr T Sokupa
Time: 14:40 – 15:00
Topic: Strategic Projects and Partnerships
SDG: 17


Faculty of Education contribution in the fight against Covid-19

Time: 13:00 – 15:00
Session Chair: Prof B Fielding

Speaker: Ms K Aploon-Zokufa
Time: 13:00 – 13:25
Topic: Learning under Lockdown: Benefits for Adult Women Students
SDG: 5

Speaker: Prof Kitching
Time: 13:25 – 13:55
Topic: Co-constructing schools into enabling, supportive and inclusive environments: a holistic wellbeing perspective
SDG: 3,4,10, 16 and 17

Speaker: Dr K Koopman
Time: 13:55 – 14:15
Topic: The impact of the neoliberal technological epoch and Covid-19 on the decolonisation of the university curriculum
SDG: 4


Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences contribution in the fight against Covid-19

Time: 13:00 – 15:00
Session Chair: Dr Nompumelelo Nyembe

Speaker: Prof Dinbabo and Mr P Mudungwe
Time: 13:00 – 14:00
Topic: International migration and development in Africa: A call for a global research agenda
SDG: 1, 10, 11, 16

Speaker: Prof Du Toit, Dr F Mtero, Ms K Ramantsima and Mr N Gumede
Time: 14:00 – 15:00
Topic: Equitable access to land for livelihoods and food security
SDG: 1,2,5,10

Time: 15:00 – 15:05
Speaker: Dr T Sokupa


Faculty of Arts and Humanities contribution in the fight against Covid-19

Time: 16:00 – 18:00
Session Chair: Dr Miranda Ndipingwi

Speaker: Dr L Scharnick-Udemans, Dr M Robertson, Dr S Ngabaza, Dr L Mokwena, Dr A Peck
Time: 16:00 – 17:00
Topic: Research for Social Justice and Social Just. Research: Exploring paradigms and practices during a pandemic
SDG: 10

Speaker: Dr V Layne and Dr L Scott
Time: 17:00 – 18:00
Topic: Activating Archives; Transformative Constitutionalism
SDG: 4, 5, 10,16