FACULTY OF NATURAL SCIENCES
The School of Computer-, Statistical-, and Mathematical Science is proud to boast of the two students who won the preliminary rounds of CHPC competition.
As per annual procedure the applications were open early until 7 June 2012.
The aim of this competition is to outsource the best computer and engineering undergraduate students of this era. In an attempt to elevate South African standards of fundamental knowledge of high performance computing techniques, the CHPC's Student Cluster Competition has selected only the best candidates to take part in regional teams on 3 – 7 December 2012, Durban.
Winners of this round will proceed to represent South Africa at the International Supercomputing student competition to be hosted Germany in 2013.
Competition requires that a student must be in either in 2nd year if enrolled in a 3 year degree, or 2nd/3rd year if enrolled in a 4 year degree with no other undergraduate qualification. During the competition participants will build small HPC clusters out of hardware. The participants will be given a selection of applications to optimize and run on their clusters to demonstrate the design’s performance. Strong academic students are chosen and must be available to attend all competition sites, including internationally.
Prof Tjaart Steyn, Mr Cassey Keating, Ms Evelyn Khoboka and Prof Gunther Drevin
NWU competitors, Mr Cassey Keating and Ms Evelyn Khoboka had not received any prior training to HPC, but with only basic knowledge and applications in research, these students outdone themselves! Congratulations and good luck!!
Dr Colin Read – Top lecturer in Natural Sciences
Rapport newspaper acknowledges annually 15 lecturers who are special to students within every Faculty of NWU (North-West University). The students vote twice per year and subsequently a decision is announced. Ever since the start of the Rapport Top Lecturer competition, students' interest has grown tremendously and is ongoing over all three NWU campuses.
Apart from completing and reaching module outcomes, the lecturer gives support, motivates inspirers and develops students to best of their abilities. For the past three years there was at two occasions a lecturer within the subject group chemistry that won a reward. It goes to show that the chemists in our Faculty are not only intelligent, but also possess good life skills.
Dr Colin Read gives chemistry modules (CHEM 111 & 121) to first years of a capacity of 870 and 751 respectively doing a brilliant job at it! Congratulations, it is a job well done!!!
Nagraadse Simposium van die Skool vir Biologiese Wetenskappe asook Geo- en Ruimtelike Wetenskappe
Die eerste gesamentlike nagraadse simposium van die Skool vir Biologiese Wetenskappe en die Skool vir Geo- en Ruimtelike Wetenskappe was in alle opsigte spesiaal aangesien dit die eerste keer was dat Stads- en Streekbeplanning deel van die verrigtinge was. Dit is wel die tiende keer dat die simposium aangebied is, maar vorige jare is dit onder vaandel van die Skool van Omgewingswetenskappe en Ontwikkeling gedoen.
Die verrigtinge het onder die bekwame leiding van die organiseerders Me Danica Liebenberg-Weyers en Misha de Beer-Venter reeds op Dinsdag 16 Oktober afgeskop met 73 senuweeagtige Honneurs studente wat oor drie dae hulle projekte aan die beoordelaars voorgedra het.
Die verrigtinge is afgesluit met ‘n prysuitdelingseremonie waar die eregaste Prof Kobus Pienaar (Dekaan: Fakulteit Natuurwetenskappe); Prof Leon van Rensburg (Direkteur van die Eenheid vir Wetenskaplike Ontwikkeling en Bestuur asook die borg van die funksie); Prof Victor Wepener (Direkteur van die Skool vir Biologiese Wetenskappe) en Prof Francois Retief (Direkteur van die Skool vir Geo- en Ruimtelike Wetenskappe) deur ‘n pittige seremoniemeester, Prof Johnnie van den Berg, verwelkom is.
Die jaarlikse Mildred van der Merwe-Radlofftoekenning van Plantkunde is oorhandig aan Coenie Scheepers vir die beste M.Sc-verhandeling asook aan Dr. Madeleen Struwig en Dr. Frances Siebert vir die beste PhD-verhandelings.
Die pryse vir die beste honneursvoordragte is as volg toegeken:
Akwatiese Ekosisteemwelstand: Leatitia Powrie (Studieleier Prof Sandra Barnard)
Biodiversiteit en Bewaringsekologie: Gerhard du Preez (Studieleiers: Prof Driekie Fourie en Prof Pieter Theron)
Ekologiese Remediëring en volhoubare bestuur: Hannes Myburgh (Studieleier: Dr. Frances Siebert en Prof Stefan Siebert)
Plantbeskerming: Jaco Marais (Studieleier: Prof Johnnie van den Berg en Dr A Erasmus)
Omgewingsgeologie: Ricart Boneschans (Studieleier: Prof Marthie Coetzee en Prof Stefan Siebert)
Stads en Streekbeplanning: Susan Weyers en Werner Rossouw (Studieleier: Me Karen Puren)
(behind fltr) Proff F. Retief, S. Siebert, S. Cilliers, V. Wepener, L. van Rensburg, K. de Kock, Me Madeleen Struwig and Dr F. Siebert.
Postgraduate students with their study leaders
Prize giving of Prof Marius Potgieter
NWU - Faculty of Natural Sciences' Prof Marius Potgieter receives this year's Havenga prize to honor his contribution in Technical Sciences. The Havenga prize finds its origin from the "Suid Afrikaanse Akademiese Wetenskap en Kuns" that started in 2 July 1909 en has gained its reputation over the years for its annual prize giving.
The prize is further sub-divided into two categories: Havenga prize for Technical Sciences (Mathematical, Chemical or Physical Sciences) and Havenga prize for Biological Sciences (for research on living material, excluding humans) (e.g. Agriculture, Biology, Veterinary Science, etc.). It is awarded each year for original research in the natural sciences and/or the field of technology. The prerequisites in the evaluation of candidates are firstly research publications and secondly, proof of the promotion of Afrikaans. The prize can be awarded only once to any particular person.
Other prizes that are rewarded in Natural Sciences are M.T. Steyn Medal for Natural Sciences and Technical Achievement, FARMOVS Prize for Pharmacology and Medicine Development, and the Douw Greeff prize for the best research -or preview article published in SA Tydskrif vir Natuurwetenskap en Tegnologie" of the previous year.
Prof Potgieter has served on many national and international committees and was elected in 2010 as member of advisory board of "LitNeT Akademies". He earned the sought after A1 – grading as a researcher of National researchers fund (NRF), the only A1 – grade on the NWU at that time.
With more than 30 years of loyal service delivery to the NWU, the former director of the School of physical and chemical sciences and a member of the Unit for Space Research is Prof Marius a specialist in heliospheric space -physics, -weather and -climate.
His subject area involves mathematical and numerical modeling of the characteristics of heliospheric space, the behavior of cosmic rays as charged particles in the heliosphere and the physical processes that they are subjected to.
As part of development, the third year students in Computer sciences had a practical lesson different to many other during the year, it was something wonderful. The lesson was in the form a workshop, was interactive and much more innovative. It was an insightful visit from Vodacom to final year B.Sc. - IT students as part of IT - development module (ITRW 324). Concepts such as building Android projects and mobile applications, IDE prerequisites and installations, SDK- and IDE tools and Vodacom APP Store were explored.
The "Vodacom Developer Programme" was presented on 20 September 2012 as per initiative of the subject group Computer Science under guidance of Mr Henry Foulds and Mr Jacques Barnard.
Colloquium - Advances in Cloud Computing
Guest Lecture by Dr Zaigham Mahmood, University of Derby, UK
Subject group: Computer Sciences
Cloud computing is a fresh budding paradigm that allows consumers to self-provision cloud- based information technology resources, as and when they require. It entails the storage of huge data sets for different sectors such as business organizations, travel industries, social media etc.
Based on technologies such as Grid Computing, Clustering and Virtualization, cloud computing has recently been in the news headlines because of its ability to host what is known as “Big Data”. For the rest who aren’t boffins in Computer Science or not really familiar with the terminology thereof, it is good to know that this magnificent breakthrough will benefit product end-users by boosting the economy as well as creating jobs. Big Data will change business operating models, the way business compete and advance business-customer interactions.
One doesn’t often think of the complexity of technology as internet, software programs and social media are at our finger tips. But a thorough review by Dr Zaigham Mahmood showed that huge data sets are under consideration here from giga, tera, peta, exa, zetta up until yotta whereby exa is already 1 billion billion bytes. To comprehend in simple terms how much data it is, underneath are a few examples:
• Facebook: 40 billion photos
• Hadron Collider in 2010: produced 13 peta bytes.
• In 2011: 2.5 quintillion (2.5x10^18) bytes/day new data was generated and business data doubles every 1.2 years worldwide.
• Walmart: 1million+ transactions per hour
• Internet traffic predicted in 2013: approx 700 exa bytes
To effectively unlock this enormous amount of data, Data analytics need to be performed. This is a field whereby our graduates can gain from, as the demand is high; a staggering 43% of organizations in a 2012 survey recognized lack of such skills. Post graduate studies at the NWU, School for Computer,-Statistical and Mathematical Sciences, spearheaded by Prof Magda Huisman, entails training of post graduate students in new and novel methodologies to perform predictive analytics, content analytics, social media analytics and operational analytics. This enables our students to become data architects or data scientists.
This was indeed an insightful colloquium attended by personnel within the department of Computer Sciences and Information Systems, as well as NWU colleagues from the Vaal and Mafikeng Campuses. Affiliates from CTI, VUT and other and related industries also attended the colloquium. Vast gratitude extended to Dr Zaigham Mahmood for the willingness to share his time and expertise with us.
From left to right is Prof Magda Huisman, Dr Zaigham Mahmood (Research assosiate to Prof Huisman), Prof Tjaart Steyn.
Huldeblyk aan Reus in Wetenskapkringe
Wêreldwyd was prof. Okkie de Jager van die Noordwes-Universiteit, Potchefstroomkampus, ‘n gerekende outoriteit op die gebied van gammastraal-astronomie, met die klem op die ontdekking van pulsareasook die modellering van pulsare en pulsarwindnewels. As jongwetenskaplike het hy reeds besondere potensiaal getoon en verskeiegesogtepryse verower. Sy afsterwe op 14 Desember 2010 het ’n geweldige leemte in dieFisika-gemeenskap gelaat, soveel so dat talle oorsese fisici daarop aangedring het dat ’n huldigingskonferensie in die Kruger Nasionale Wildtuin gehou word om sy besondere nalatenskap te vier.
So ’n internasionale konferensie, gereël deur die Sentrum virRuimtenavorsing van die NWU, het vanaf 12 - 17 Augustus ter nagedagtenis aan prof. De Jager plaasgevind. Ongeveer 100 afgevaardigdes uit alle uithoeke van die wêreld was teenwoordig bySkukuza, ten spyte van die feit dat daar gedurende hierdie tyd ook astrofisika-konferensies in Heidelberg, Indië, en Beijing plaasgevind het.
Verskeie vooraanstaande wetenskaplikes, o.a. dr. Alice Harding van NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, prof. Patrick Slane van die Harvard-Smithsonian Sentrum vir Astrofisika, en prof. Jon Arons van Berkeley, VSA, asook talle ander uit Pole, Frankryk, Duitsland,Italië, Kanada, Nederland, Engeland, China, Argentinië, en Spanje het hierdie geskiedkundige gebeurtenis meegemaak.
Die Konferensie, "The Cosmic Kaleidoscope - Pulsars and their Nebulae,Supernova Remnants and More - A Conference in Memory of Okkie deJager" was 'n groot sukses en die aanbiedings was van hoogstaande gehalte. Dit was ook 'n inspuiting vir die plaaslike wetenskaplike gemeenskap, veral m.b.t. multigolflengte-astronomie en die SKA. Dit was verder 'n tydige byeenkoms in die lig van verskeie internasionaleprojekte wat nou besonder opwindende resultate lewer. Enkelevoorbeelde is Fermi LAT wat nou reeds 117 gammastraal-pulsarewaargeneem het, en H.E.S.S. II ('n enorme grondgebaseerde gammastraalteleskoop van 28 m) wat pas sy eerste data begin neem het. Laasgenoemde kan gesien word as die voorloper van die CTA (CherenkovTelescope Array) wat al die "SKA van gammastraal-astronomie" genoem is, en waarby Suid-Afrika ook betrokke is.
Die reëlingskomitee, prof. Adri Burger, prof. Johan van der Walt, dr.Estie de Jager, dr. Christo Venter (voorsitter), Petro Sieberhagen,Elanie van Rooyen en Mathew Holleran kyk met groot dankbaarheid terugop ’n geslaagde en gepaste huldeblyk aan ’n geliefde en dinamiese kollega.
MyLab at Sasol Techno Expo 2012!
The MyLab initiative participated in Sasol Techno X exhibitions from 13 – 17 August 2012. MyLab was fully booked for five day expo, 11 workshops presented with total of 250 scholars as well as visitors ranging from education departments, the industry, educators and parents. Sasol Techno Expo 2012 is a big annual event that hosts 20250 learners, 1007 educators and 999 of public interest. Co-exhibitors included Universities, Technology institutions, Sasol, WNNR, DWAF, Tourism etc. MyLab won the first prize for best workshop presented, same as last year.
Left is Ms Mari du Toit and right Prof Corrie du Toit with the award.
MyLab is a small scale chemistry and natural science apparatus that enables practical work to be done in the comfort of a class room for Chemistry and Natural Science subjects. It comprises of all prescribed Natural Science experiments from grade 4 to 9 and Chemistry experiments from grade 10 to 12. It is truly small, uses minimal resources, cost-efficient and is applicable to teaching of Natural Science and Chemistry at School level in South Africa. My Lab is most appreciated by schools that are less privileged, whereby 2 – 3 scholars can use it at a time, 2 – 4 at a time from grade 4 to 9. Furthermore the experimental kits are enclosed with instruction worksheets and DVD’s. MyLab is designed to enhance the approach of both teachers and learners, creating room for positive performance.
NASIONALE WETENSKAPWEEK, 30 July to 4 August 2012
The National Science Week, an initiative of the Department of Science and Technology (DST) is a countrywide celebration of science involving various stakeholders and/or role players conducting science-based activities. This event is also annually celebrated by the North West University and is organized by the Science Centre on campus, and this year was no exception.
The week was formally opened at the North West University Alumni hall with a mini launch, where Dr. S.H Mvula from the Kenneth Kuanda District addressed around 260 people including scholars, personnel as well marshals. The Campus-Rector Prof Herman van Schalkwyk in Sesotho highlighted the evolution and development in the scientific world and stressed the importance of science in the modern society by mentioning how the cell phone has developed over the years and the huge impact it has on society especially among our youth.
During the course of the week more than 1500 learners took part in a array of science based activities such as the Career guidance, IKS at the Zoology Department, Interactive Physics and Chemistry demonstrations, a hands on experience in the Science Centre, and visits to the Botanical Garden as well as the new Engineering complex. These activities gave the learners an overview of the endless possibilities that a career in science unlock and is meant to provoke an interest for science amongst our learners. The students’ body Scientiae was active in arranging tours by the elderly, business persons and Vuselela College to Tlokwe Breweries, the Water purification Plant and the New engineering Complex. All three tours were highly interesting and great appreciation was expressed by the participants.
The Department of Education provided transport for the more than 20 schools that was invited from the Kenneth Kaunda Education district. The learners also received breakfast packs and lunch sponsored by the Education Department. Officials from HSRC, SAATA and NWED visited the activities for assessment. All expressed satisfaction.
The week has served its purpose namely science awareness amongst the Youth and served as a platform for NWU to deliver community service of high quality. Once again many learners were exposed to the wonders of science and seeds were planted to germinate interests for careers in science. Overall the activities of the Week can be branded as a huge success.
The Story of Life & the Environment, Book Launch, 26 July 2012
The book launch at the NWU, of the long awaited published book was on 26 July 2012. It was an evening of much exploration, not only of the authors but also of the environment itself. The book is written from an African perspective, detailing Africa’s biodiversity, ecosystems and endangered life forms in future. Furthermore a comparison of the African continent and the rest of the world were discussed. The authors were all present, humble as ever when receiving compliments from seniors, colleagues and family.
The book consists of over more than 700 photographs and 190 illustrations, and as Prof Nico Smit proudly exclaims:”There is a story behind every photo!” Prof Nico presented the content in eleven chapters each with a different aspect on life and the environment. This brilliant scientific masterpiece was collaborated by Proff Jo van As, Johann du Preez, Leslie Brown, Nico Smit, each with extensive expertise of ecological science. From the University of the Free State (UFS) is both Jo van As (far left), a professor and expert in Zoology and Entomology, and associate professor Johann du Preez (far right), a vegetation ecology and plant sciences specialist.
Prof Lesie Brown (right) better known for his expertise in plant phytosociology, field management, restoration, long-term monitoring, and plant / animal interactions and is a lecturer at University of South Africa (UNISA). North West university’s Prof Nico Smit (left) is a specialist in aquatic Ecology en parasitology, freshwater conservation and currently a professor and head of The Water Research Group (WRG).
The project took five years to complete - rest assured all the authors have come to consensus that the outputs certainly match the input and it was worth it!
Dean cycles daily
Prof Kobus Pienaar, dean of the Faculty of Natural sciences, cycles 2,19 kilometers daily, to and from campus taking him 08:27 minutes (as he measured it with his GPS). Suppose there are 219 weekdays in a year and maybe 19 of them you needn't or can't cycle due to rain and other circumstances and travel thus per car, then the assumption that one will cycle 200 days per year would be correct.
Prof Kobus cycles route from his home to campus 4 times a day, amounting to 8,76 kilometers per day. Then these kilometers multiplied with 200 weekdays of work, it results in 1 752 kilometers. So, calculating with standard NWU travelling rates tariffs of R3,84 per kilometer, then the total is R6 727,68 per year of savings.
Among many other benefits that cycling has is fitness, reduced stress levels, healthy heart, saving time and money and reduction of green house emission gasses is important to Prof Kobus. Green consciousness is part of the latest NWU passion – driven projects!
Prof Kobus Pienaar cycles also when he is overseas.
ATKV honours Prof Kobus van der Walt
Prof Kobus van der Walt was recently honored for his contribution towards Environmental related issues. He speaks on RSG's "Omgewingspraatjie", and has a broad range of loyal listeners. Prof van der Walt is a specialist in environment philosophy, hydrology, catchment area management and environmental management. When he received it, he says he was pleasantly surprised by the ATKV-award, and hopes that by grace he will still work herein for long.
The lady handing over the award is Ms Petro Greeff of ATKV Kanniedood-branch in Alberton.
From left to right is Mr Japie Gouws, Managing Director of ATKV,
Prof Kobus van der Walt, Ms Ella Bella, Miss Earth -UNEP and Mr Deon Classen, organizer of the environment gala.
Prof Kobus van der Walt
Date of news: 22.05.2012
The outcome of a successful negotiation between the School of Computer-, Statistical-, Mathematical Sciences and Kagiso Activ was celebrated with a token of harmonious agreement. Under supervision of prof Gilbert Groenewald (Director of the School of Computer-, Statistical-, Mathematical Sciences), Computer Science manages, the accreditation of an e-learning course that will shortly be offered. The course, of which the aim is to teach learners basic computer literacy, is entirely presented by means of computer and will be available to the NWU, Potchefstroom campus. Kagiso Activ plays an active role in the transformation of education in South Africa. They are an accredited training – and test provider for ICDL (International Computer Driving License) in Africa. Division Computer Science is very excited about the collaboration with Kagiso Activ and trust that the association will continue for long hereafter.
In the photo from front left to right: Prof Kobus Pienaar (Dean of Natural Sciences), Mr Darryl Lund (Kagiso Activ), behind, Mr Kobus van Aswegen (Computer Science), Prof Gilbert Groenwald (Director of the school) and Mr Janie Kitshoff (Kagiso Activ).
Date of news: 07.05.2012
Openday for this year was very successful and promises to bring in more good students for the Faculty. We received a lot of inquiries from parents and prospective students from far and near. Thank you to all the personnel who offered their time for this marketing event.
Please click on the link above to see the foto's .
Date of news: 03.05.2012
OPEN DAY 2012
As is a tradition, the NWU hosts annually Open day for prospective students. This is a good platform for the Faculty of Natural Sciences to market itself for what its renown for! Please do visit our Faculty at G1 - Natural Sciece Building.
Date of news: 22.09.2011
The Centre for Space Research was recently visited by Drr. Charles McGruder and Lawrence Norris who are affiliated with the National Society of Black Physicists and Dr McGruder being a past president of this society. They are supporting the Southern African site bid for hosting the Cherenkov Telescope Array (CTA). As well as offering very constructive insights in order to move this project forward.
Behind: Prof Johan van der Walt, Prof Adri Burger, Dr Lawrence Norris, Dr Christo Venter and Dr Paulus Kruger.
In front: Dr Ilani Loubser and Dr Charles McGruder
Date of news: 22.07.2011
The first multicellular organism that was found in mine water more than 1.3km deep below the earth’s surface is a nematode identified as Halicephalobus mephisto. This discovery was made by a geoscienist, Tullis Onstott, of the Princeton University (USA) during 2011 in the Beatrix mine situated the Free State Province of South Africa. Current collaborators on this project are scientists of the Free State University as well as scientists from Belgium and the Netherlands.
Prof. Driekie Fourie, a nematologist (Unit of Environmental Sciences and Management) has been approached for her expert knowledge on nematodes by personnel of RSG. Subsequently some insight about this unique discovery was broadcasted on 4 June 2011. According to her, it is not really a surprise that they found a nematode in under such extreme conditions, which in this particular case represents high temperatures (exceeding 100 degrees Fahrenheit) and oxygen-depleted water. She explained that nematodes have unique strategies that they use to adapt and survive in such extreme conditions. Prof. Fourie also reiterated that where a food source for nematodes is present, in this case subsurface bacteria, these creatures will be present. According to her, a unique food web exists at this depth in the Beatrix mine and therefore the possibility that more and/or other multicellular organisms could be present should not be excluded.
Prof. Fourie is responsible for conducting research and also teaching of post graduate students at Honours, MSc and PhD-level. Her research is aimed at applied ecological research with regard to nematodes in agro-ecosystems with the major emphasis on the development of nematode management strategies on crops such as potatoes, maize, soybean and vegetables. Such studies address the ecology and pathogenecity of economically important nematode species and research on control mechanisms such as host plant resistance, cultural control as well as chemical control. Prof. Fourie is also involved in the identification of nematode assemblages that exist in unique ecosystems such as caves.
Date of news: 13.05.2011
Die bostaande is ’n uitnodiging van die afgelope Vrydag se Breinpakkie ete. En nee daar is nie ’n spel fout nie, dit was inderdaad ’n BREIN pakkie ete! Dit was my eerste keer daar, maar blykbaar is dit ’n tweede geleentheid vir die jaar - en wat ’n insigewende ervaring was dit vir my. Vanuit die twee sprekers se voorleggings kon individue raad neem om hoe hul navorsingstudies aan te pak. Raad wat op elkeen van toepasing is en wat dalk handig sal kom in die toekoms. Dr Ilani Loubser van ons Fakulteit se Sentrum vir Ruimtenavorsing het vertel hoe sy oorsee beleef het. Sy sê doelwitte stel en volhou is ewe belangrik soos netwerke bou. Asook toegewydheid om “journal clubs” te stig en by te woon en goeie tydsbestuur (vier kwadrante van Stephen R.Covey). Prof Alta Schutte van HART (Hypertension in Africa Research Team) vereenvoudig dit en verdeel dit in twee kategorieë naamlik, dinge waarin jy beheer oor het, en kan verander of wat nie kan verander en beheer oor het nie.
Verder voeg sy daarby dat balans tussen akademiese- en persoonlike lewe nodig is om jou doelwitte te bereik, in tyd. Sy sê kwaliteit is beter as kwantiteit, beoog vir die beste joernaal en eerste outeer, en om na-doktorale studies in ’n ander instansie te doen, verkieslik die buiteland.
Altwee sprekers het beklemtoon dat dit uit die aard van die saak ’n mentor van groot waarde sal wees, en dit hoef nie noodwendig iemand te wees wat in jou area of expertise is nie.
Grotendeels dankie aan die Kampus Rektor Prof Herman van Schalkwyk, Vise-Rektor Prof Amanda Lourens vir die wonderlike inisiatief en Ferdinand Postma Biblioteek wat die ete geborg het.
Bekende gesigte van die Fakulteit Natuurwetenskappe wat ook bygewoon het was, Ernst Idsardi, Carrie Zermartten, Elroy Zeekoei, WD Schutte, Johnny van der Merwe, Dr Cobus Kriek, Prof Harm Moraal, Prof Albie van Dijk, en Prof Henk Bouwman.