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14 May 2019 | Story Thabo Kessah | Photo Tsepo Moeketsi
Prof Ashafa
Prof Ashafa’s research documents plants used by the Basotho in the management of different ailments.

The Phytomedicine and Phytopharmacology Research Programme (PPRP) in the Department of Plant Sciences on the Qwaqwa Campus researches the biological effects of medicinal plants used in the folkloric medicine of the Eastern Free State, particularly to explore the values and contribution of indigenous knowledge systems (IKS) towards broader scientific research. This is according to the programme’s principal investigator and researcher, NRF C2-rated researcher, Professor Anofi Ashafa. 

 “Our research is mainly aimed at documenting plants used by the Basotho in the management of different ailments and to further discover, isolate, and purify active phytoconstituents that are responsible for disease curation or amelioration, thereby assisting in the global promotion of accessible and affordable medication in developing countries,” said Prof Ashafa. 

Since 2012, the PPRP has worked extensively on Basotho medicinal plants (BMP) used as antimicrobials, antioxidants, antidiabetics, antitubercular, anticancer, anthelmintic, and antidiarrheal agents, starting from biological activities up to the  evaluation of the toxicity of these plants for the kidney, liver, and heart functions in order to establish safe dosage parameters. These activities have led to the discovery of four potent antidiabetic biomolecules that are awaiting the processes of patency and commercialisation. Additional outputs include 104 published peer-reviewed articles , 7 postdoctoral fellows, 6 PhDs, 9 master’s, and 16 honours graduates. 

“Our research informs teaching and the development of expertise in ethnobotany, 
phytomedicine, and phytopharmacology in order to contribute to the National Development Plan (NDP) through human capacity development, skills, and knowledge transfer.

The group is also investigating some medicinal plants on the endangered red list of the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI), through micropropagation and field trials as well as proposing conservation strategies to preserve these valuable species.

The PPRP consists of postdoctoral fellows, PhD, master’s, and honours students and research is done in collaboration with several local and international universities as well as the Agricultural Research Council of South Africa. 


News Archive

UFS on energy-saving mode
2009-09-15

The University of the Free State (UFS) has undertaken several measures to reduce energy consumption on the Main Campus in Bloemfontein.

“Part of Eskom’s strategy is that all the main universities must reduce their electricity consumption. Because the university is the second biggest user of electricity in Bloemfontein we have to cut our consumption according to the new energy policy,” said Prof. Niel Viljoen, Chief Director of Operations at the UFS.

“Electricity is also expensive and if we look at global warming and everybody’s responsibility, I think we all have a moral obligation to save energy,” said Prof. Viljoen.

“The energy crisis of January 2008 and beyond, with its load-shedding limitations, was a major driver for the government to introduce the Power Conservation Scheme,” said Mr Anton Calitz, the UFS’s electrical engineer.

The measures put in place by the UFS include amongst others:

The introduction of a solar water-heating system in the residences, which is a first of its kind in Bloemfontein.
An investigation is also being launched into alternatives and the effective heating of rooms in the residences.

Feasibility studies are currently being conducted to determine whether energy saving can be achieved with radiation panels.

Energy-saving lights have been installed in the following buildings: the Architecture Building, Genmin Lectorium, Geology lecture halls, Winkie Direko Building, George du Toit Building, Sasol Library, Francois Retief Building, as well as in the residences. This measure has resulted in massive energy saving.

Energy meters for the Library, Computer Laboratory Building, François Retief Building and Steyn Substation are being planned as the first phase.

Real-time metering will result in every UFS computer user being aware of power consumption on the campus.

New lift motors and control systems that reduce energy consumption have been installed at the Agriculture and the George du Toit Buildings.

In the Computer Laboratory Building the temperature adjusting point for the venues is set at 22 °C and, in the case of new projects, green guidelines are applied.

It is expected that the government and local authorities will bring more pressure to bear on the UFS to save energy. Applications for increased capacity will possibly be linked to energy-saving targets.

This trend will continue until 2014 when additional power stations will be put into operation.

“Our aim is to save 10% on energy consumption,” said Prof. Viljoen.

“Heavy financial penalties will be imposed if a 10% saving is not achieved,” added Mr Calitz.

On average, our energy consumption per day this year is 128,964 kWh as compared to last year’s 119,752 kWh.

Media Release
Issued by: Mangaliso Radebe
Assistant Director: Media Liaison
Tel: 051 401 2828
Cell: 078 460 3320
E-mail: radebemt.stg@ufs.ac.za  
14 September 2009

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