Global honour: UKZN scientist tops list of researchers

2013-01-16 00:00

UNIVERSITY of KwaZulu-Natal scientist Professor Johannes van Staden is unfazed by being named the world’s leading researcher in pharmacology and toxicology.

“Obviously one is a little bit excited, but it’s nothing. You do your work and things happen,” he told The Witness.

Van Staden is director of the Research Centre for Plant Growth and Development, attached to the School of Life Sciences in the College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science at UKZN’s Pietermaritzburg campus.

He is also the editor-in-chief of the South African Journal of Botany and Plant Growth Regulation and serves on the editorial board of six other journals.

Passionate about his work, Van Staden has lectured to many students over the years.

“With students, the most important thing is that there is a lot of energy there,” he said.

“But energy is very useful if it’s guided in the right direction. So what I would like to think is that I am guiding their energy in the right direction.

“That’s why there is a tremendous amount of productivity.”

Van Staden has enjoyed a career spanning more than 50 years and counts numerous highlights — none more special than the other.

“I don’t think that there has been any greater or smaller part of my life,” he said.

“My life has been very successful and some of it has been [about] very big disappointments, in many respects, but in terms of recognition it is a little satisfying to get some recognition,” said the scientist.

That recognition has finally come from Thomson Reuters, based in New York, which regularly publishes lists of leading researchers in a variety of spheres.

Van Staden now tops the world list of highly cited researchers.

In second and third place are scientists from the University of Florence.

There are more than 100 names on the global list.

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