Scores of academics, industry representatives, research collaborators, and current and former students of Prof Phuti Ngoepe gathered for a conference at the University of Limpopo (UL) in January to honour the academic on the occasion of his 60th birthday.
South African and international collaborators graced the occasion to share the outputs of the research they have done and are currently doing with Prof Ngoepe in the computational modelling of materials. Among the delegates were UL’s s administrative top brass; the Director-General of the Department of Science and Technology, Dr Phil Mjwara; the Deputy Director-General of the Department of Mineral Resources; and speakers from a number of the country’s universities. International collaborators present included: University College London, University of Kent, University of Oxford and Imperial College.
The CSIR and Transnet also used the event to share a number of projects undertaken in collaboration with Prof Ngoepe. Some of the research projects shared were:
• Brillouin and Raman scattering studies in Materials Science
• Nano particles to save the Mary Rose
• Computer modelling of the interaction of surfactants and peptides with apatite mineral surfaces
• Computer modelling studies of pentlandites
• TiO2 surfaces and interfaces with bone mineral thin film
• Amorphisation and recrystallisation of pure and lithiated titanium dioxides
• Electron trapping in polyethylene
• Challenges in modelling topological close-packed phase formation in Ni-based superalloys
• Computational modelling of light metal alloys
• Computational modelling of precious metal alloys.
The professor was many times described as a ‘blue sky scientist’. “Ngoepe is a rare combination of a towering intellect and profound humility”, said Prof Modibe, a long-time friend of Prof Ngoepe.
Ngoepe is South African Research Chair on Computational Modelling of Materials; Director of the Materials Modelling Centre at UL; and is a CSIR research fellow. In his career that spans over 40 years, he has taught and supervised postgraduate students including nine doctoral students. He has served on the boards of a number of science councils including the National Research Foundation, Mintek and the Council for Geosciences. Among the long list of awards and accolades bestowed upon him over the years is the Order of Maphungubwe awarded in silver in 2008. The order is South Africa’s highest honour and is granted by the president for achievements in international areas that serve the country’s interest. Its first recipient was former President Nelson Mandela.