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Professor Admire Dube, Dean: Natural Sciences

Dear Campus Community

Welcome to the Faculty of Natural Sciences at the University of the Western Cape! I'm thrilled to extend my warmest greetings to all students and staff, wishing you a fantastic and prosperous 2024.

As a first-year student, you are amongst the select few, approximately 830 students, who have been accepted to study with us in our Faculty. This is an achievement considering the millions of applications received nationwide. To our returning students, your perseverance is commendable, and you're still on your journey! To each and every one of you, we feel proud and enthusiastic about collaborating with you to shape your future.

As you step into our faculty, it's crucial to recognise its profound role in society - and consequently, your role within it. Recent challenges, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, energy crises, and water shortages, have underscored the critical importance of science and technology for global well-being. Despite the uncertainties of the past few years, the world continues to rely on the natural sciences for answers. By choosing the Faculty of Natural Sciences, you've taken the crucial first step toward becoming an intellectual and scholar capable of contributing not only to our Rainbow Nation but to the world at large. With only about 6% of South Africans holding university degrees, being part of this group entails both privilege and responsibility.

Let me give you a brief overview of our Faculty. We house nine academic departments, a School of Pharmacy, four research institutes, two research centres, and two research units. Our 2022 academic program offers ten undergraduate degrees and one professional pharmacy degree. At the postgraduate level, we provide 12 honours degrees, one postgraduate diploma, and numerous master’s and doctoral programs across various scientific disciplines.

Our Faculty is proud to offer innovative and relevant learning and teaching programs at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels. We aim to create an environment that fosters intellectual curiosity and encourages debate. Within our Faculty, you'll find scholars recognised nationally and internationally for their leadership and groundbreaking research. We are committed to research that addresses the needs and challenges facing not only our local communities, but also the global community at large.

Our friendly staff are here to support you. Please don't hesitate to seek assistance if you feel lost or uncertain. Remember, asking questions is an integral part of the learning process. We are committed to equipping and graduating students with the skills needed to address societal needs, from the everyday to the monumental challenges like poverty and inequality. Our Faculty is equipped with some of the most state-of-the-art infrastructure and technology available in South Africa, and we want you, as students, to benefit as much as possible from these resources.

American poet Dr. Maya Angelou once said, "When you learn, teach; when you get, give." So, remember to work hard and seize your opportunities. Build your student networks, study groups, and encourage each other. South Africa, and indeed Africa, needs to hear your voice.

Lastly, make friends and have fun during your time at UWC. One day, you'll look back and cherish this moment in your life. Don't let it slip away.

Once again, welcome to YOUR Faculty of Natural Sciences. Let's embark on this journey together.

Yours Sincerely,

Professor Admire Dube
Dean: Faculty of Natural Sciences, University of the Western Cape

Welcome to the Biodiversity and Conservation Biology Department homepage. The department was formed as an amalgamation of the former Botany and Zoology departments. Our location at the southern tip of Africa places us in an ideal position for field research into a host of interesting plants and animals.
The simplest definition of biotechnology is “applied biology” through the application of biological knowledge and techniques to develop products or services. It may be further defined as the use of living organisms to make a product or run a process. By this definition, the classic techniques used for plant and animal breeding, fermentation and enzyme purification are to be considered biotechnology.
Chemistry is often described as the central science because it touches all the other sciences.
Our vision is to provide innovative programmes in Computer Science, in order empowering our graduates to advance the quality of life in Africa.
The Department of Earth Sciences at UWC offers challenging opportunities in the nationally strategic areas of natural resources combining the disciplines of Applied geology, environmental and water sciences. These rapidly expanding programmes have established an international profile through teaching and research. Our research aim as a department is to study fundamental processes, and to investigate linkage between different components of the earth system (solid earth, hydrosphere, biosphere and atmosphere).
The Department of Mathematics offers programs for undergraduate and post graduate degrees. We have established programs of fundamental research in mathematics, as well as research in various areas such as Mathematical Modelling, Financial Mathematics and Mathematics Education among others.
In the Department of Medical Biosciences, we aim at training and developing scientists who will conduct research with a view to reduce the many lifestyle associated diseases.

To prepare students, the Medical Biosciences programme teaches students anatomy, physiology and medical microbiology thereby providing an understanding of the structure and function of the human body, and how the body protects itself against disease.
The Physics and Astronomy Department carries out physics and provides teaching programmes that will contribute significantly to the development of human capacity, science and technology in South Africa. The study of Physics and Astronomy at UWC produces holistically educated citizens who understand our rapidly changing technological world. Our vision is to see our graduates be equipped with the fundamental knowledge of physics, problem solving, life and communication skills.
Welcome to the Statistics and Population Studies Department at the University of the Western Cape.
Our Department revolves around two axes of teaching and research: Statistics with specialisation in Data Science and Population Studies. Two growing and important fields as data become more and more used everywhere and every day for planning purposes and to understand the challenges of our modern societies: from stock markets, medical research, economic forecasting to human populations.
The Institute for Microbial Biotechnology and Metagenomics is headed by Professor Marla Trindade as Director. Recognised as one of the leading research units at UWC, IMBM forms part of the Department of Biotechnology. IMBM is dedicated to excellence in research and in the training of future research leaders. In addition, it contributes to the Department’s undergraduate teaching activities.
The Institute for Water Studies (IWS) at the University of the Western Cape was formed in 2009 with the goal of promoting research, postgraduate training, and outreach on water related issues through the collaborative efforts of UWC staff. The Institute for Water Studies aims to increase the understanding of surface water, groundwater, and ecosystems linkages and how water users are affected and affect these linkages.
South African Institute for Advanced Materials Chemistry (SAIAMC) at the University of the Western Cape (UWC), established in 2004, comprises three distinct and closely interrelated programmes: Hydrogen South Africa Systems Integration Competence Centre (HySA Systems), PetroSA Synthetic Fuels Innovation Centre (PSFIC) and Energy Storage and Fluid Treatment Centre (ESFTC)
Bioinformatics is a specialist discipline straddling the fields of biology, mathematics and computer science and it is integral to modern biological research. The South African National Bioinformatics Institute (SANBI) is a research institute reporting through the Faculty of Natural Sciences at the University of the Western Cape (UWC) in Cape Town.

Our primary focus is the development and implementation of computational methodologies which allow researchers to accelerate their genomics data analyses. SANBI aims to heighten awareness of bioinformatics in South Africa and to assist the country in making optimal use of bioinformatics tools.
The Inter-university Institute for Data Intensive Astronomy is a partnership of three South African universities, the Universities of Cape Town, of the Western Cape and of Pretoria. IDIA also has an industry partner in SAP.
Pharmacists play meaningful roles in the healthcare of people. They do this through emphasis on correct and rational use of medicines and related products. Pharmacists remain in high demand in the public and private sectors. The corporate part is expanding and the demand for pharmacists continues. This applies to South Africa and other countries of the world.
Proteomics is the term that describes a multitude of tools and expertise used primarily to profile and identify proteins of interest in any organism at a large scale. Proteins of interests include biomarkers for certain diseases or physiological/developmental status. For example, one could use proteomics to investigate effects of pathogens on organ protein expression levels and patterns.
The UNESCO Chair in Hydrogeology was established in 2001 at UWC following the introduction of the National Water Act of 1998 by the National Department of Water Affairs and Forestry (DWAF). As the Chair mainly focuses on groundwater related education, research and outreach, the Centre strives to contribute towards sustainable utilisation of groundwater resources in South Africa, Africa and the developing world.
The UWC Nature Reserve Unit provides an educational and recreational asset for the University of the Western Cape’s staff and students as well as surrounding communities by functioning as a base for ecological teaching, environmental education and research.

Our role is to develop an awareness and understanding by reconnecting students with nature, to inspire them to find a new appreciation for their natural surroundings, thus having an important bearing on future decision-making by the same individuals.
The Department of Science and Innovation identified nanoscience as an important new field that South Africa needs to develop.

As such, they introduced a dedicated postgraduate programme for training in nanoscience and nanotechnology.
UWC has collaborated with an international software developer to offer the first of its kind postgraduate diploma in South Africa. This accredited postgraduate diploma in e-skills with immersive technologies stream can provide you with a hands-on approach to learning VR & AR software design and development skills, empowering you to join an exciting new field in the Fourth Industrial revolution (4IR) that is gaining a vast amount of interest globally.