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29 January 2019 | Story Xolisa Mnukwa | Photo Anja Aucamp
Prof Francis Petersen speech
“We can create an institution that operates and lives in the times of embracing and celebrating diversity, inclusivity, and academic excellence by ensuring that students own their time at university,” said Prof Francis Petersen.

25 January 2019 marked the official welcoming of the University of the Free State’s (UFS) first-year students, as they moved into their respective residences and were warmly welcomed on the UFS Bloemfontein Campus. This day also marked the start of the registration process for first-year students.

According to first-year Psychology student Keisha Claasen, who moved into her residence earlier on 25 January, her first experience of the UFS was daunting but exciting, as she had never been in a similar environment. According to Given Gwerera, who dropped his son off at the Karee residence earlier the day, “the UFS is an institution with great culture and an overall good academic record.” He further explained that he trusts his son to make full use of the opportunities presented to him, as he has a cool head on his shoulders.

On the evening of 25 January, an eager group of millennials, joined by their parents, took the first sip from their cup of varsity life as they assembled on the Red Square of the Bloemfontein Campus to meet the Rector and Vice-Chancellor, Prof Francis Petersen, members of Rectorate, the deans of all faculties, and the Student Representative Council (SRC) of the UFS.

“2019 will be a year of continued change; the UFS is thrilled about the prospect of bringing about opportunities for adaptation and realignment to the future,” said Prof Francis Petersen.

He further explained that the university prides itself in moulding its students into well-rounded individuals who will develop into globally competitive graduates as required in a diversity of landscapes. Prof Petersen urged first-years to remain open to the technological developments that go with globalisation, because of its permanent effects on society today.

First-years were further advised to take advantage of the rich pool of academic research and knowledge that is characteristic of the university and is piloted by UFS scholars, by engaging with and learning from them.

The inspiring night concluded on a colourful note, as the audience enjoyed an artistic laser show in front of the Main Building. Caption:

“UFS academics conduct research that forces the world to take note,” said Prof Francis Petersen at the official first-year welcoming ceremony on the UFS Bloemfontein Campus.

News Archive

SARChI Chair on disease resistance and quality in field crops awarded in UFS Department of Plant Science
2016-02-01

Description: SARChI Chair  Tags: SARChI Chair

Prof Labuschagne

A South African Research Chairs Initiative (SARChI) chair has been awarded in the Department of Plant Sciences at the University of the Free State (UFS). The chair will be headed by Prof Maryke Labuschagne, and will focus on crop quality breeding and disease resistance in field crops.

The disease resistance research by the chair will be headed by Prof Zakkie Pretorius. The disease resistance breeding will be a continuation of the internationally-acclaimed wheat rust research that Prof Pretorius has been conducting during his career.

The quality breeding will focus on crop protein quantity and quality as well as on iron, zinc, and beta carotene biofortification of staple crops such as wheat, maize, and cassava.

Prof Labuschagne believes that food security is one of the key factors for stability and prosperity on the continent. Her research and that of her students focuses on the genetic improvement of food security crops in Africa, including such staples as maize and cassava. “These crops are genetically improved for yield, drought tolerance, disease, and insect resistance, as well nutritional value,” she said.

Last year, one of  Prof Labuschagne’s PhD students, Bright Peprah, received an award for $473 000 from the competitive Program for Emerging Agricultural Research Leaders (PEARL) of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for his project on improving the beta-carotene content in cassava.

Prof Labuschagne also received the prestigious ‘Continental Lifetime Achiever Award’ from Africa’s Most Influential Women in Business and Government Programme (MIW) last year for her commitment and continuous contributions to food security. She is an NRF-rated researcher, and author or co-author of over 160 articles in accredited journals.

Research Chairs have been designed by the Department of Science and Technology, together with the National Research Foundation, to attract and retain excellence in research and innovation at South African public universities. 

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