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Researchers across the University of the Free State are at the forefront of global efforts to understand the coronavirus (COVID-19) and protect our communities. From vaccine development to understanding the economy, the work involves collaborative efforts from various departments from health sciences to humanities.


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Prof Phillipe Burger

Prof Philippe Burger
Prof Philippe Burger

Prof Philippe Burger, Pro Vice-Chancellor: Poverty, Inequality and Economic development, is a Professor of Economics and Head of the Department of Economics at the University of the Free State (UFS). He was a 2016/17 Fulbright Exchange Scholar at the Center for Sustainable Development, Earth Institute, at Columbia University (New York).

He was president of the Economic Society of South Africa from September 2012 to October 2014. Prof Burger is also a member of the South African Statistics Council, which oversees the work of Statistics SA. His publications include three books and numerous academic articles on fiscal rules and fiscal sustainability, public private partnerships and macroeconomic and economic development policy.

Together with International Monetary Fund (IMF) staff he co-authored two IMF working papers. In 2009 the IMF invited him to spend a month at the IMF as a visiting scholar. In 2007, 2010 and 2012 he was seconded to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in Paris to work on public private partnerships and capital budgeting. In October 2011 he joined an OECD mission to Indonesia to conduct a regulatory review of Indonesia. He was a member of the Panel of Experts of the South African National Treasury, in which capacity he co-authored a 20-year review of South African fiscal policy since 1994.

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Prof Hussein Solomon

Professor Hussein Solomon is Senior Professor in the Department of Political Studies and Governance, University of the Free State, a Visiting Professor at Japan’s Osaka University and a Senior Research Associate of the Jerusalem-based think tank Research on Islam and Muslims in Africa (RIMA).

Prof Hussein Solomon holds a PhD in Political Science from the University of South Africa. He is currently a Senior Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of the Free State.

Prof Solomon is a member of the South African Academy of Science and Art and a member of the National Research Foundation’s (NRF) Philosophy and Political Science subject specialist rating group. He currently has a C2 ranking from the NRF.

His research interests include conflict and conflict resolution in Africa; South African foreign policy; international relations theory; religious fundamentalism and population movements within the developing world. His publications have appeared in South Africa, Nigeria, the US, the UK, Switzerland, the Russian Federation, Greece, The Netherlands, Norway, Denmark, Egypt, Ethiopia, Israel, Lebanon, India, Bangladesh, Spain and Japan.

His most recent books include African Security in the Twenty-First Century: Challenges and Opportunities (with Stephen Emerson, Manchester University Press, 2018), Understanding Boko Haram and Insurgency in Africa (with Jim Hentz, Routledge, 2017), Islamic State and the Coming Global Confrontation (Palgrave Macmillan, 2016), Terrorism and Counter-Terrorism in Africa: Fighting Insurgency from Al Shabaab, Ansar Dine and Boko Haram (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015), and Jihad: A South African Perspective (SUN MeDIA, 2013).

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Prof Hussein Solomon

Prof Hussein Solomon



Dr Jordaan

Dr Jacques Jordaan
Dr Jacques Jordaan

Dr Jacques Jordaan is a postgraduate supervisor and lecturer at the Department of Psychology, University of the Free State. He is a registered Counselling Psychologist and holds a doctoral degree in Psychology. After graduating, Dr Jordaan, initially worked for ten years as a psychologist at Mangaung Correctional Centre before he was appointed at the University of the Free State. Dr Jordaan has lectured Social Psychology and Research Methodology and Statistics for the Department of Psychology. His research interests are in the fields of offender studies and social psychology.

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Prof Robert Bragg

Prof Robert Bragg and his research team from the Department of Microbial, Biochemical and Food Biotechnology at the UFS are regarded as world leaders in their area of research. Prof Bragg is a C-rated NRF researcher.

In a major breakthrough, his team have been able to produce a vaccine against a virus which cannot be cultured. The technology is now used as a model for their other vaccine development projects. His main research focuses on control of diseases, mostly in the veterinary field.

His long-standing and current research areas focus on infectious coryza caused by the bacterium Avibacterium paragallinarum which occurs in poultry, disease control in a post-antibiotic era and vaccine development. They are assisting vaccine producers in South Africa, India and Israel to improve the formulation of vaccines, and are investigating variant field isolates from countries in South and Central America. Resistance to disinfectants are also being investigated.

The other research area in which the group is active is the search for disease control options in a post-antibiotic era. He has been working towards this for many years and the focus has been on improved biosecurity and the development of a continual disinfection programme in poultry. This work was based on a novel disinfectant which was produced by a South African company based in Stellenbosch. This was the first use worldwide of a disinfectant to control disease in poultry production. It was demonstrated that this continual disinfection programme could stop serious poultry diseases such as Newcastle disease virus and Avian influenza, another current “hot topic”. This work resulted in the registration of a disinfectant with label claims for the control of Newcastle disease virus. This was another “first” for a disinfectant. This continual disinfection programme will be the only viable solution to control bacterial diseases in poultry production in a post-antibiotic era.

His main research activity is on the control of diseases in birds (mostly poultry) and in efforts to improve vaccination efficacy, particularly for the often neglected small-scale farmer.

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Prof Robert Bragg

Prof Robert Bragg

inagouws

Dr Ina Gouws 
Dr Ina Gouws

Dr Ina Gouws holds a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Public Management and Governance and her research focus was on democratisation and governance. 

With Democracy being challenged around the world in recent times, it is more important than ever to understand what democracy is, what democratisation is, how democracy is consolidated, how implementation of democracy is failing and how and why democracy is threatened. All these aspects are investigated through the lens of good governance principles.

Some of the issues that Dr Gouws finds interesting in the country’s political space is whether  our politics will ever truly focus on social and economic development by putting effective governance at the centre no matter what the ideology and whether voices advocating cooperation in the midst of differences will ever drown out those propagating hate and aggravating divisions.

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Professor Thidziambi Phendla 

Professor Thidziambi Phendla has 38yrs of experience in education, as school educator, school principal and senior lecture. She is a full professor of educational management, administration and leadership.

Among several prestigious awards and scholarships, she is a recipient of the following:  the Fulbright Scholarship, the World Bank’s Margaret McNamara Memorial Fund and the Ernest Oppenheimer Trust Fund. She obtained several qualifications cum laude: Further Diploma in Education from Rand Afrikaans University, a Higher Education Certificate in HELM from WITS and PhD from Michigan State University, USA. Prof Phendla has extensive experience as director of UNESCO’s International Institute Capacity Building in Africa (IICBA), where she completed numerous national and international training and assessment projects in gender, women in leadership and HIV & AIDS. She was a member of Executive of Council, SENATE, Senior Management Team, Dean of School of Education and Editor in Chief of Journal of Education at the University of Venda. Furthermore, she has published widely in accredited journals in the areas of women in leadership and social justice in South Africa. Prof Phendla was the president of African Association of Women at Michigan State University and has a wealth of experience as board member of several organisations.

She recently finished her second term as member of UNESCO Education Sector of South Africa’s education.  Prof Phendla is also a founder of The Study Clinic (NPC) and Domestic Workers Advocacy Forum (NPO). Lastly, she is currently the Director of Research for Higher Education Transformation Network (HETN) and Manager: Work Integrated Learning at the University of the Free State.

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Prof Thidziambi Phendla

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Prof Felicity Burt 

Prof Felicity Burt

Prof Felicity Burt is from the Division of Virology, in the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of the Free State (UFS) and National Health Laboratory Services (NHLS). She currently holds a NRF-DST South African Research Chair in vector-borne and zoonotic diseases. Professor Burt and her research group investigate arboviruses and zoonotic viruses. She is currently leading the UFS Coronavirus Task Team. 

The research primarily focuses on host immune responses to arboviral infections specifically characterising humoral and cellular immune responses in patients with infections such as Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever (CCHF) virus and Sindbis virus; epitope discovery for development of diagnostic tools; development of molecular and serological assays for surveillance purposes; virus discovery; and development of vaccines. Raising awareness of these viruses, defining associated diseases and developing tools for surveillance programmes will contribute to understanding these pathogens and the public health implications.

Arboviruses cause outbreaks of disease in South Africa annually. Outbreaks are usually associated with heavy-rainfall favouring mosquito-breeding, but these viruses also have the capacity to spread and become endemic in new areas where competent vectors are present. In addition, she is leads a research group that investigates human papilloma viruses (HPV) associated with head and neck cancers and recurrent laryngeal papillomas.

The focus of this research group is to ascertain the genotypes of HPV causing these diseases, identification of novel biomarkers for early detection and complete genome sequencing for molecular characterisation of HPV isolates.

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