The outcome of the successful National Research Foundation (NRF) evaluation and rating applications submitted by the University of Venda in March 2021 is valid and effective from the 1st of January 2022, as follows: 

Prof Yoshan Moodley, B2-Rated

Prof Yoshan Moodley, B2-Rated is a South African evolutionary biologist. He joined the University of Venda as a full professor in 2015 after working for twelve years as a scientist at several prestigious European institutions. In 2016 he was awarded his first NRF rating of C1, denoting his standing as an established researcher with international standing. Over the past five years, Moodley has consolidated his achievements in Europe, producing an outstanding series of highly impactful research in his field of evolutionary genetics. Prof Moodley recently came up for scientific re-evaluation, and it is the pleasure of the University of Venda to announce that the NRF now considers him as a scientist with considerable international standing and have awarded him a B2 rating. Among his recent research papers, for which he had a leading or significant role, feature world-renowned scientific journals like Nature, Science, Proceedings of the National Academic of Sciences of the USA and Molecular Biology and Evolution. At the same time, Prof Moodley also developed a series of excellent undergraduate and honours teaching modules in evolutionary biology, which were designed to give UNIVEN Biological Sciences graduates a deeper, more holistic appreciation of science, life, and nature. His achievements since he has been with UNIVEN have helped place the University of Venda as a leading institution for evolutionary research in the republic. We wish Professor Moodley continued success in his research. Comment: Prof Jaco Greef from University of Pretoria congratulated Prof Moodley on his excellent achievement. He is looking forward to seeing how much Prof Moodley’s rating will climb in the next cycle. 

Prof Mike Bruford from Cardiff University in UK was absolutely delighted that Prof Moodley has been awarded NRF B2 rating. He says that Prof Moodley fully deserves the rating and he has known Yoshan since he was an early career PhD student. He spent two years in his lab as a highly productive NRF postdoc, and in following his career subsequently, it has been a pleasure to see him mature into a Professor in his home country, and a scientist of high international standing, and he hopes that this suffices.” 


Professor Amidou Samie, C1-Rated

Professor Amidou Samie, C1-Rated holds a BSc and an MSc degree in Biochemistry and a PhD degree in Microbiology and a Master of Public Health (MPH) from the University of Pretoria. Following his PhD qualification in 2008 he was appointed as Lecturer in the Department of Microbiology at the University of Venda where he subsequently served as Senior Lecturer and currently as Associate Professor. He was the first Y rated researcher at the University of Venda in 2009 immediately after his PhD graduation and his rating has recently been re-evaluated and updated to the C1 category effective from the 1st of January 2022. He has authored or co-authored more than 130 publications in peer reviewed International Journals on topics covering Genetics, Clinical Microbiology, Parasitology, Biotechnology, Water quality and Tropical Medicine. He has also published 5 book chapters and has served as Editor for 2 Books on Tropical diseases and E. coli. He has given more than 150 Lectures at both national and international conferences and has received the Vice-Chancellor’s award for the best overall researcher at the University of Venda for 4 consecutive years. He has graduated over 20 MSc and PhD students. He has established collaborative projects with researchers from South Africa, USA, Japan, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Cameroon, Nigeria, and Zambia and received research grants from several organisations including the WRC, NIH, NRF, ISID, Gates Foundation and UNESCO. He has served as an executive board member of the International Committee on Systematics of Prokaryotes, the Limpopo Health research committee, the Research Advisory forum of the University of Venda. He also serves as external examiner for PhD, MSc, and BSc honours projects from different institutions in South Africa and abroad. Professor Samie’s research has for the first time provided information on the molecular epidemiology and pathogenicity of emerging intestinal pathogens such as Cryptosporidium, microsporidia, E. histolytica, Campylobacter jejuni, Arcobacter butzlerii, Enteroaggregative E. coli and Clostridium difficile. Of particular interest to him is the study of E. histolytica which is a common cause of diarrhea among hospital attendees and HIV positive individuals. Professor Samie’s most recent research interest covers issues of pharmacogenomics and genetic susceptibility and is actively involved in the role of the Immune system’s genes on the occurrence of STIs and opportunistic infections among HIV patients. He is also interested in understanding the occurrence of steroid hormones in the environment and their potential impact on microbial diversity and Human health.


Prof. Jude J.O Odhiambo, C2-Rated

Prof. Jude J.O Odhiambo, C2-Rated is a Professor of Soil Science in the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences. He has been awarded a rating of C2 by the NRF. Prof Odhiambo holds a BSc (Hons) Agriculture and MSc Agriculture (Soil Science) degrees from the University of Nairobi, Kenya and a PhD degree in Soil Science from The University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada and has over thirty (33) years of university teaching (at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels) as well as research experience at various institutions of higher learning in Africa and abroad. His main area of research is in soil fertility and plant nutrition and he has published extensively in peer reviewed and accredited journals. He has also presented his research work at several national and international conferences and supervised several Honours, Masters and PhD students. Prof Odhiambo is the former Dean of the former School of Agriculture, having also served as a Vice Dean of the former School for a period of 8 years and former Head of the Department of Soil Science. He is currently the Interim Chair for Teaching and Learning in the Faculty of Science, Engineering and Agriculture at the University of Venda. Prof Odhiambo is an active researcher and a reviewer for several journals, and an external examiner and assessor for several universities and organisations, both nationally and internationally. He is the current president of the Soil Science Society of South Africa (SSSSA), a member of the Soil Science Society of America (SSSA), International Union of Soil Science (IUSS), and a registered natural science practitioner (Soil Science) by the South African Council for Natural Scientific Professions (SACNASP).

Comment: Dear Prof Odhiambo, congratulations on the successful outcome of your NRF rating application. It speaks volumes on the quality of your works and contributions to the soil science discipline and the professional bodies that we both belong and serve locally and internationally. I am particularly glad to be associated with this great achievement of yours. Please keep flying the flag high – Prof FR Kutu (University of Mpumalanga).


Prof Irene Barnhoorn, C2-Rated recently received her C2 NRF rating. She is interested in research studies on exposure to environmental endocrine disruptors (EDCs) and health effects on wildlife and eventually humans. Her focus is mainly on freshwater aquatic sciences with the emphasis on aquatic endocrine disruption (ecotoxicology) and the safe consumption of wild fish. Prof Barnhoorn has published numerous papers in high impact factor nationally and international scientific journals. She has trained several honours, masters and doctoral students in aquatic toxicology both in the laboratory and field.


Prof Irene Barnhoorn, C2-Rated

Comment: A Colleague, Prof Wilmien Luus-Powell (UL) and C2 rated NRF scientists has known Prof Barnhoorn for more than 30 years and have been collaborating with her for the past six years. She is one of the most outstanding researchers I have worked with and her research on aquatic toxicology, environmental endocrine disruption and eco-physiology have had an impact on society and academia. This is evident in more than 1000 citations her research received worldwide in the past 10 years. Her rating shows that she is recognised as one of the leaders in her field of study.

Prof Riana Bornman, another colleague and B2 NRF rated scientist says: I have watched Prof Barnhoorn’s career taking off from postdoctoral student to NRF-rated scientist. She has always had a keen eye for the abnormal or unusual and has distinguished herself as researcher that produces research results that matters. 



Prof Norman Chiliya, C3-Rated

Prof Norman Chiliya, C3-Rated is an Associate Professor of Business Management. His research interests are in areas such as destination marketing, adoption of new technologies, small business management and sustainable development. Prof Chiliya received his C3 NRF rating, effective from the 1st of January 2022. Professor Norman Chiliya attended Chinhoyi High School in Zimbabwe. He obtained Bachelor of Commerce in Business Management and Industrial Psychology, Honours in Business Management and Master of Commerce in Business Management degrees from University of Fort Hare. Norman completed his Doctor of Philosophy degree in Business Management at University of Johannesburg. Norman has worked for University of Fort Hare, Monash South Africa, and Witwatersrand University. He joined University of Venda in April 2020. His research work focuses on entrepreneurship, innovation management, adoption of new technologies and marketing. To date, Norman has supervised over 65 Honours, 20 Masters and 6 PhD projects. He has also externally examined a number of research projects for other universities. Norman has published over 39 Journal articles. He has also presented papers at local regional and international conferences. In addition to that Norman is a reviewer for several journals and conferences. 

Dr. Marizvikuru Mwale-Manjoro, C3-Rated

Dr. Marizvikuru Mwale-Manjoro, C3-Rated is a Senior Lecturer in the Institute for Rural Development, at the University of Venda (UNIVEN). She has more than 11 years of teaching and training experience at institutions of Higher Education in and outside South Africa. Upon completing her doctoral studies with the University of Fort Hare, South Africa, in May 2010, Dr Mwale-Manjoro joined the then Centre for Rural Development and Poverty Alleviation at UNIVEN in October 2010 on a two years postdoctoral fellowship. During the period at UNIVEN she actively participated in community engagement activities, postgraduate supervision, research and publication, and she received Excellence in Research award for 2012 and 2013.
It is worth noting that apart from being an author/co-author of at least 45 peer-reviewed papers in various journals, two (2) conference proceedings and two (2) book Chapters, Dr. Mwale-Manjoro has a remarkable record of successful supervision/co-supervision of postgraduate research. To date she has graduated 11 Honours students, 6 Masters and 8 PhD candidates. Dr Mwale’s research work is mainly on animal production, animal nutrition, water and food nutrition security and ethno-veterinary medicine for improved food and nutrition security in rural communities. Dr Mwale is also a principal investigator of a 3-year project on Water Security and Socio-Hydrological resilience of Rural Small-scale Crop Value Chains. The work is funded by the USAID (United States Agency for International development) under the PEER (Partnerships for Enhanced Engaged Research) cycle 6 programme. Collaborators are researchers and academics at IIE MSA, University of South Africa (UNISA) and Montana University in USA. Four (4) Masters students at IIE MSA, 3 Honours, 2 Masters and a Postdoctoral Research Fellow are benefiting from the project. Dr Mwale’s advancement in research coupled with her good interpersonal skills and diligence has seen her being invited by other researchers to participate in their projects. Currently she is a co-investigator of a project on Utilisation of indigenous knowledge in sustaining water security for humans and livestock in resource-limited communities in KwaZulu-Natal and Limpopo provinces. The two-year project is funded by the Water Research Commission. Invitation has also been extended to Dr Mwale and accepted for a five-year project on the National Collaborative for Research on Food, Energy, and Water Education (NC-FEW), an NSF-funded Research Coordination Network (RCN). This is an emergent, transdisciplinary community of educators and education researchers engaged in FEW-Nexus-focused educational programming and research/evaluation. The project is led by Prof Cory Forbes of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in USA. Dr Mwale is instrumental in the project as an International collaborator and expert in postgraduate training as well as informal and non-formal training. 

Dr Sphiwe Emmanuel Mhlongo, Y2-Rated

Dr Sphiwe Emmanuel Mhlongo, Y2-Rated is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Earth Sciences in the Faculty of Science, Engineering, and Agriculture. He holds a PhD in Environmental Sciences (Geology), a Master of Earth Sciences in Mining and Environmental Geology, and a Bachelor of Earth Sciences in Mining and Environmental Geology (Hons) from the University of Venda. He joined academia in 2009 through the lecturer support programme of the Mining Qualifications Authority (MQA). In his 13 years of experience in teaching and researching in Higher Education, he contributed to the supervision of 42 honours and 10 MSc students in the areas of mining and environmental geology. He is currently co-supervising 3 PhD candidates. His research interest is on sustainable mining, mine closure and rehabilitation (with a special focus on the issues of abandoned mines), and environmental geology. He has co-authored numerous papers published in scholarly journals and peer-reviewed conference proceedings. Dr Mhlongo is a member of professional societies such as the Geological Society of South Africa (GSSA) and the Land Rehabilitation Society of South Africa (LaRSSA). He is also the fellow of the South African Young Academy of Science (SAYAS).

Comment: Dr Mhlongo is grateful to Dr Francis Amponsah-Dacosta for being a wonderful mentor and supervisor since the beginning of his academic career. Prof. Wilson Gitari describes Dr Mhlongo as a promising academic and a researcher with great potential in driving this niche research area to higher levels. He is technically thorough in what he does and innovative. He is focused and showed great academic leadership within the collaborative projects we have executed together.

Dr Oluwatoyin Onipe, Y2-Rated

Dr Oluwatoyin Onipe, Y2-Rated has been recognised by the NRF as an emerging rated researcher in the field of Food Science and Technology (FST). Based on her recent research output’s impact and quality, she received an NRF Y2 rating, valid from 1st January 2022. Dr Onipe is a Postdoctoral Researcher in the Department of Food Science and Technology under Dr S.E. Ramashia and former mentorship of Professor A.I.O. Jideani. She holds a PhD in Agriculture (Food Science & Technology) and an MSc in FST from the University of Venda under Professor Jideani and Dr D. Beswa. During her doctorate programme, Dr Onipe proved herself an asset to the Department of Food Science and Technology, UNIVEN, through the quality of research. The doctoral research of Dr Onipe on “Oil distribution, microstructure, and in vitro starch digestibility of magwinya enriched with cereal bran” was partly funded by external grants received from the Technology Innovation Agency (TIA) in 2016 and the Centre of Excellence Smart Food project received in 2018. As the first researcher to carry out comprehensive scientific research on magwinya, Dr Onipe has carved for herself a research niche which makes her an authority in this research area. During this time, she pioneered the research on developing and optimising the formulation and processing of nutrient-dense, low-fat magwinya, for which one patent was registered in the South African Patent directory. In addition, she has authored/co-authored twelve (12) peer-reviewed publications, two (2) book chapters, two (2) industry magazine articles, seventeen (17) presentations at international conferences, one of which she co-chaired an academic session in 2018 at the Institute of Food Technologists annual conference in Chicago, USA. As the leading student researcher on the TIA and Smart Food projects, Dr Onipe has mentored a total of twenty (20) honours research students and is currently co-supervising two (2) master students. Apart from students, she has assisted staff members in the Department of Food Science & Technology with experimental design and research data analysis. 

In the Famelab scientific communication 2021 competition, Dr Onipe participated and emerged as one of the top 10 out of about 300 contestants in South Africa and went on to have two media interviews at Makhado FM and radio 702. Her Famelab talks addressed the issue of food waste and malnutrition – two issues that currently plague both the developed and developing nations of the World. She spoke passionately about her research on magwinya – a product consumed by many communities in South Africa, and how she enriched and improved its nutrient profile while reducing its fat content using wheat bran – a cheap and available fibre source. 8 

Comment: Her postdoctoral research at UNIVEN focuses on applying mechanical and bioprocessing methods for the modification of dietary fibres from wheat bran to improve its nutritional profile for use as functional food ingredients. This will be followed by their subsequent use for the development of foods. This research aligns with Food Security, a part of the sustainable development goals. 

Speaking about her, Professor Jideani congratulates Dr Onipe for the achievement and wishes her the best in this national recognition. Dr Onipe is hardworking, humble, and the NRF rating endorses her as an emerging researcher. If given the opportunity, she has the potential to establish herself as a seasoned researcher. Her NRF rating has increased the value of the Department, Faculty, UNIVEN and South Africa. 

Issued by:
Department of Marketing, Branding and Communication
University of Venda
Tel: (015) 962 8525 / 8710
Date: 15 March 2022

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