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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

Department of Architecture builds next generation of architects
2010-03-22

 
With Prof. Jonathan Jansen, Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the UFS are René Malan en Sancha Olivier.


Since 1987 first-year architecture students have been building huts on campus annually as part of an introduction to architectural studies at the Department of Architecture at the University of the Free State (UFS).

According to Martie Bitzer, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Architecture, the students build these full-scale huts in groups of two, with responses to orientation, materials (grass, reads, earth construction – mud bricks), climate and community over a period of approximately three weeks.

On the day that the students completed their huts, Prof. Jonathan Jansen, Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the UFS, visited the small community of 27 huts in the veld behind the Rag Farm. Here he was taken on a walk amongst the huts. He also addressed staff and students of the Department of Architecture

“I can smell excellence and goodness,” was some of Prof. Jansen’s remarks as he walked amongst the huts.

“Top students come to our Department of Architecture. Quality attracts quality. The recent achievements of this department are proof of this,” he said.

One of Kovsies final-year students, Wim Steenkamp, was named National Corobrik Architecture Student of the Year 2008. This was the second time in the past three years that a student from the UFS Department of Architecture has won this prestigious competition. The department also received unconditional accreditation from the South African Council for the Architecture Profession (SACAP) for all three courses offered, and over the past few years its students have won the Tripod Photography Competition, the National Cement and Concrete Institute Competition for honours students, and the Carl and Emily Fuchs Foundation Student Prestigious Prize.

This once again confirms the prestige the department enjoys in the field of architecture in South Africa. It is also proof of the quality of staff and the programmes offered at the department.
 

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