09 May 2023 | Story Leonie Bolleurs | Photo Supplied
Prof André Roodt
Prof Andreas Roodt was recently awarded the MT Steyn Prize for Natural Science and Technology Excellence from the SA Akademie vir Wetenskap en Kuns. He will receive the prize, sponsored by Sanlam, at a function scheduled for September this year.

Prof Andreas Roodt, former Head of the Department of Chemistry at the University of the Free State (UFS) and retired Distinguished Professor in the same department, was recently awarded the MT Steyn Prize for Natural Science and Technology Excellence from the SA Akademie vir Wetenskap en Kuns.

The prize, a major recognition of his life's work, was presented to him for his contribution to the exploration and sustained development of natural science and technology and the successful application thereof in broader society.

Impacting society

About receiving the prize, he says it was a big surprise, but he is very proud to be honoured with this special award, “being an Afrikaans kid from a ‘platteland’ school outside Bloemfontein.”

Prof Roodt’s research focuses on understanding the reaction mechanisms of mainly inorganic coordination chemical systems that are critical to different industrial, medical, environmental, and metal beneficiation processes.

His research, for instance, contributes to important compounds and processes relevant to nuclear medicine and potential cancer therapy. Not so long ago, he registered a patent on this in Europe, Japan, and the USA that could help to diagnose and potentially treat cancer-related tumours in the future.

In addition, he continues to work on several projects aimed at developing cleaner industrial processes in the South African petrochemical industry. He is also focusing on more efficient ways of accessing the country’s mineral resources.

Career highlights

Throughout his academic career, Prof Roodt has achieved many significant milestones. He was extensively involved in crystallography for more than 30 years. One of his career highlights was being elected as the President of the European Crystallographic Association from 2012 to 2015, an organisation with more than 35 member countries.

In this field, he established an X-ray crystallographic facility in the UFS Department of Chemistry, which was officially named the ‘Roodt XRD Lab’ at the end of 2021.

He also sees his journey with the diverse group of 41 PhD and 54 MSc students (Afrikaans, English, Sesotho, Setswana, and isiXhosa) as another notable achievement in his career.

Other outstanding moments in Prof Roodt's career were his collaborations with research leaders from countries such as the USA, UK, Switzerland, Italy, Sweden, France, Croatia, India, Japan, Russia, the Netherlands, Germany, and Tunisia. These collaborations have allowed him to be recognised by peers worldwide and have demonstrated that Africa and South Africa can produce high-quality and relevant research that can compete on an international level.

The future

Despite his appointment as a Distinguished Professor and his commitment to finishing uncompleted work and assisting younger colleagues both in South Africa and abroad, Prof Roodt retired more than a year ago. He is now enjoying his retirement with his wife, children, and grandchildren, while also devoting time to his passion for collecting aloe plants and generating new hybrids.

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