By Phiwa Sikhondze
Professor Ara Monadjem is the 2023 winner of the Scientist of the Year award.
The award recognizes Professor Monadjem’s outstanding contributions to the field of African mammal and bird ecology and conservation. His research has been instrumental in shedding light on the intricate dynamics of African ecosystems and the critical roles played by mammals and birds within them.
Professor Monadjem received the award at the Kingdom of Eswatini Academy of Sciences’ (KEAS) second annual conference held at the Happy Valley Hotel on Friday, 27 October 2023.
He has published over 200 scientific papers and has authored eight influential books that have become key references in the field of African biodiversity.
Professor Monadjem said that he was humbled and honored to receive the award and thanked the Ministry of ICT and KEAS for their recognition and encouragement.
“This award is not only for me, but for all the researchers, students, and collaborators who have worked with me over the years. I am grateful for their support and dedication. This award is a testament to the importance of science for society and development. I hope that this award will inspire more young people to pursue careers in science and contribute to the advancement of knowledge and innovation in Eswatini,” he said.
The 2022 Scientist of the Year award winner, Dr. Wisdom Dlamini, congratulated Professor Monadjem on his achievement. He described Monadjem as an inspiration to his students and fellow scientists in Eswatini.
“Professor Monadjem is a role model for all scientists in Eswatini. He has demonstrated excellence, passion, and leadership in his field. He has also made a significant impact on the conservation and management of our natural resources and biodiversity. He has shown us how science can be used to address the challenges and opportunities facing our country,” Dlamini said.
The President of KEAS, Dr. Thabile Ndlovu, also praised Professor Monadjem for his award.
She said that Monadjem really deserved the outstanding award, considering the amount of valuable contributions he has made to the scientific community and the entire society.
The KEAS Annual Conference is a platform for scientists, researchers, policymakers, industry leaders, and other stakeholders to discuss the role of science in addressing the challenges and opportunities facing Eswatini. The theme of this year’s conference was “Conversations about Science for Society and Development”.
The conference featured keynote speeches, panel discussions, presentations, exhibitions, and networking sessions. The conference also showcased some of the latest scientific achievements and innovations from Eswatini’s researchers and scientists.