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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

“Leisure can be of great geographical importance”
2013-09-26

 

Prof Gustav Etienne Visser
Photo: Supplied
26 September 2013
 

Prof Gustav Etienne Visser (43) is Professor in Human Geography at the University of the Free State. He has been with the university’s Geography Department since January 2002 and became a full professor in 2009.
Visser completed his MA in Geographical Research at the Stellenbosch University in 1996 and finished his PhD in Geography at the London School of Economics and Political Science in 2000. His thesis was titled: Spatialities of social justice: reflections on South African Cities.

Visser was a Post-doctoral Fellow at the School of Geography, Archaeology and Environmental Studies at the University of the Witwatersrand before his appointment at the UFS. He now teaches Urban Geography to third-year students and Tourism and Development to MA students.

His research interests so far have been Identity-based consumption and urban morphological change, Tourism and development nexus and Critical reflections on South African Geographical Research.

Visser’s publications summary is as follows:

- Four books – edited collections
- 28 book chapters
- 71 refereed articles
- Nine academic commentaries and research notes
- 14 research reports
- and 38 conference papers

His latest research on how people’s leisure time influences our urban spaces, is fundamentally relevant to everyday life.

“We tend to forget to think about it, but how people spend their leisure time is part of their lifestyle,” says Visser.“ And our urban surroundings are influenced by the lifestyles of its inhabitants.”

When asked about his own leisure time and activities, Visser humorously responds “There is no such thing.”

However, he is passionate about eating, cooking and wine.
“I must also watch a series every day – Dexter is definitely my favourite.
“Furthermore, I also travel abroad for about three months of the year, which is mainly for my research concerning urban spaces.”

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