Two internationally renowned researchers from the University of Pretoria (UP), Prof Mike Wingfield and Prof Bernard Slippers, have been included on the 2018 Web of Science list of the world’s most highly cited researchers.

Prof Slippers is the Director of UP’s flagship Forestry and Agricultural Biotechnology Institute (FABI), while Prof Wingfield was the founding Director of FABI and continues to drive his research programme at the Institute. Both researchers are included in the prestigious list of approximately 4 000 global academics that are recognised by the Web of Science (managed by Clarivate Analytics) as “most highly cited”.

Their listing is specifically in the field of plant and animal science. Another FABI associate, Prof Pedro Crous (Director of the Westerdijk Biodiversity Institute, Netherlands), who holds an adjunct (extraordinary) position at UP, has also been included on this prestigious list.

The list of most highly cited researchers also includes two other extraordinary professors – Prof Yves van de Peer (Genetics) and Prof Mujahid Abbas (Mathematics and Applied Mathematics) – from UP’s Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences.

Prof Wingfield is the Founding Director of FABI and an A1-rated NRF researcher. He has been elected as a fellow of numerous scientific societies, including the Royal Society of South Africa, the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf), the Southern African Society for Plant Pathology and the American Phytopathological Society. He is one of the few honorary members of the Mycological Society of America.

The prestigious African Union (AU) Kwame Nkrumah Scientific Award in the Life and Earth Sciences category was bestowed on Prof Wingfield in Addis Ababa in 2013. Other accolades that he has received include the Johanna Westerdijk Award by the Centraalbureau voor Schimmelcultures (CBS) (Fungal Biodiversity Centre, the Netherlands), and honorary doctorates from the University of British Columbia in 2012, and from North Carolina State University in 2013. He was awarded the Distinguished Leadership Award for International Scientists for 2016 by his alma mater, the University of Minnesota, and the esteemed Royal Society of South Africa (RSSAf) John FW Herschel medal in 2017. Prof Wingfield also received the Chinese Government Friendship Award in 2017.

Prof Slippers is the current Director of FABI, the Tree Protection Co-operative Programme and a core team member of the Centre of Excellence in Tree Health Biotechnology. He is also the Acting Director of the Future Africa Institute at UP. He has published more than 220 papers, many of which have appeared in such high-profile journals as Science, Trends in Ecology and Evolution and Trends in Plant Science. Prof Slippers has received wide recognition for his research, both nationally and internationally, including a B1 rating from the NRF, the UP Chancellor’s Award 2016, the British Association Medal (Silver) and the JE Vanderplank Award from the Southern African Society for Plant Pathology.

He is also a founding member of the Global Young Academy (GYA) and the South African Young Academy of Science (SAYAS). He has served in the leadership of both these organisations, including as co-chair of the GYA. Prof Slippers is also a Young Affiliate of the Academy of Science of the Developing World (TWAS) and a member of the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf).

The scientists included in the Web of Science list are members of an elite group recognised for their exceptional research performance demonstrated by the production of numerous highly cited papers that rank in the top 1% by citations for field and year.

The latest list includes 20 names for South Africa, 10 of which are academics resident in South Africa and who publish with a South African university as their primary address. –  Martie Meyer, University of Pretoria