UCT’s 2019 women in science winners

28 Aug 2019 - 11:00

A University of Cape Town (UCT) professor and two postgraduate researchers were among the winners at this year’s South African Women in Science Awards (SAWiSA).

Professor Tania Douglas was named Distinguished Woman Researcher in the Research and Innovation category and two UCT postgraduate researchers – Julia Healy and Sibabalo Noludwe – received TATA Scholarships.

The three women received their awards at a gala dinner hosted by the Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, Dr Blade Nzimande, on Thursday 15 August 2019.

Distinguished woman researcher

“I am pleased and honoured to have received recognition for interdisciplinary work that spans biomedical engineering, health innovation and innovation studies,” said Douglas, who is the National Research Foundation/Department of Science and Technology South African Research Chair in Biomedical Engineering and Innovation at UCT.

“This work has been enabled by the supportive research environment that I’ve experienced at UCT and by the contributions of mentors, colleagues, students and collaborators.”

Douglas holds degrees in electrical/electronic and biomedical engineering from UCT (BScEng), Vanderbilt University (MSc) and the University of Strathclyde (PhD), and conducted postdoctoral research in image processing at the Japan Broadcasting Corporation. She also has an MBA from UCT and an MPhil in applied ethics from Stellenbosch University. 


“This work has been enabled by the supportive research environment that I’ve experienced at UCT and by the contributions of mentors, colleagues, students and collaborators.”

Her research interests include medical imaging and image analysis, the development and assessment of contextually appropriate health technologies, and health innovation management.

Douglas has contributed to the establishment of CapeRay Medical, of which she is a director. The company is commercialising a breast-imaging solution that combines X-ray and ultrasound.   Her work led to her inclusion on the prestigious list of 30 Quartz Africa Innovators for 2018.  

Douglas is the founding editor-in-chief of Global Health Innovation, an open-access research journal focusing on social and technological innovation for improved health, particularly in developing-country settings. She also is the editor of the open-access ebook Biomedical Engineering for Africa, which was published by UCT Libraries in July 2019.

Inspiring the next generation

SAWiSA also serves as a platform to inspire the next generation of women researchers. To this end, scholarships and fellowships were awarded to deserving postgraduates. Two women UCT postgraduate researchers received TATA Scholarships: Julia Healy and Sibabalo Noludwe.

Julia Healy. Photo Department of Science and Technology   Julia Healy. Photo Department of Science and Technology.

Healy is enrolled for a joint PhD degree at UCT and the University of Groningen. She is investigating the neutral hydrogen gas content of galaxies in galaxy clusters to understand the processes that drive galaxy evolution. Her research can be viewed as a pilot project for the studies that will be conducted as part of the upcoming large surveys using the MeerKAT radio telescope.

Noludwe is doing her master’s degree in electrical engineering at UCT with a focus on power system resilience, which is a relatively new concept in the industry. She is investigating the ways in which microgrids can be used to improve the resilience of power systems against extreme events such as natural disasters.

Story:  Birgit Ottermann