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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. 


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Prof Heidi Hudson appointed to international Committee on the Status of Women
2015-11-24

Prof Heidi Hudson is looking forward to advancing women scholars globally
Photo: Supplied

Prof Heidi Hudson, director of the Centre for Africa Studies at the University of the Free State, was recently appointed by the President of the International Studies Association (ISA) to serve on the Committee on the Status of Women from March 2016 to April 2018. 

Representing over 100 countries, ISA has more than 6 500 members in North America and internationally, and is the most respected and widely-known scholarly association in the field of International Studies. 

She anticipates that her role on the committee will complement her research interests in feminist security theory and practice in Africa. “I am looking forward to playing a part in the advancement of southern scholars, and the promotion of their voice in global academe.”   

Prior to Professor Hudson’s appointment, she served as a member of the executive of the Feminist Theory and Gender Studies (FTGS) Section of ISA.

Representing women of the world in academia

The Committee on the Status of Women has the task of reviewing the status of women in the profession, and making recommendations to the president and the Governing Council of ISA on ways of tracking and increasing the status and visibility of women in the profession.

“Some of the goals of the committee for the 2014 to 2016 period include reaching out to women scholars in the global south; creating an ISA networking website for women scholars; and surveying perceptions of the international relations climate and its needs,” said Prof Hudson. It is also responsible for “tracking gender balance within ISA and its journals, and supporting ISA regions in fulfilling the mission of the Committee on the Status of Women,” she added.

Connecting scholars globally since 1959

The ISA has been the premier organisation for connecting scholars and practitioners in fields of international studies, and promoting research and education. ISA cooperates with 57 international studies organisations in more than 30 countries, is a member of the International Social Science Council, and enjoys non-governmental consultative status at the United Nations.

Prof Hudson’s research interests concentrate on discursive and material gender deficits of liberal peacebuilding in the post colony, amongst other subjects. She is also co-editor of International Feminist Journal of Politics.

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