Obituaries

Professor Andre Goosen

                                                                

Professor André Goosen was born in Queenstown and matriculated at Queen’s College in 1949. His ambition was to become a sailor, but his mother disabused him of this notion by arranging a passage on his uncle’s fishing trawler for an extended run out of East London. By the time they returned to port, the young man had determined that lengthy spells at sea in exclusively male company was not as attractive a prospect as he had imagined.

And so it was to university, enrolling at the University of Natal (Pietermaritzburg), to complete a BSc degree in 1954, majoring in Chemistry and Physics, followed by a BSc(Hons) in Chemistry in 1955. He was awarded an MSc in 1956 followed by a PhD in 1960, with his research on the alkaloids of the Amaryllidaceae being carried out under the supervision of the doyen of natural product chemistry in South Africa, Professor Frank L. Warren.

In 1956 Goosen was appointed at the University of Natal as a Junior Lecturer, followed by Temporary Lecturer, and was promoted in 1960 to Lecturer in Organic Chemistry. While at Natal he met and later married Joan Sansbury, also a student of chemistry.

The couple spent 1963 in London with Goosen as Visiting Lecturer at the Imperial College of Science and Technology, under the tutelage of Professor Derek H. R. Barton, who was to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1969 and knighted in 1972. For his research in which he showed that the photolysis of N-iodoamides provided a general route to y-lactones, Goosen was awarded the Diploma of Imperial College. In his case a special concession was required to qualify, as the regulations then stipulated a two-year minimum residential period. He resumed his post at the University of Natal at the end of the same year and was promoted to Senior Lecturer in Organic Chemistry.

With Warren’s encouragement, Goosen applied for a post at the fledgling University of Port Elizabeth in 1964 and assumed the new Chair of Organic Chemistry at UPE in January 1965, at the age of only 32. He was destined to spend the rest of his life in Port Elizabeth, twenty-eight of these at the university.

He and the late Professor Ferdi de Wet who was appointed at the same time, along with Professor Jan du Preez two years later, set about building up a Chemistry Department from scratch on the old Bird Street campus. The task of developing curricula, starting the academic programme, building laboratories, and establishing research was a daunting one that they tackled with enthusiasm and energy. In 1979 the Chemistry Department moved into spacious well appointed facilities that they were instrumental in designing, on the new Summerstand campus. Under their guidance, the department flourished.

Goosen proved to be a highly capable administrator and was Head of Chemistry at various intervals for seventeen years in total. He furthermore served three five-year terms as Dean of the Faculty of Science in the period 1969-1990, at times concurrently with the Headship, while also carrying a full teaching load and as a FRD B-category scientist, leading a research group. He sat on numerous UPE committees and was Senate representative on the UPE Council (1990-1993).

Moreover, he was involved in the South African Chemical Institute in various capacities, locally and nationally, serving as National President in 1979-1980, and as a member of the editorial board of the South African Journal of Chemistry. He was a member of the Joint Matriculation Board for twenty-three years including stints as Chairman, and sixteen years as Chemistry Moderator for Matriculation Physical Science. He was appointed by the Committee of University Principals to the Matriculation Board in 1992-1993. He also served on advisory committees of the CSIR and South African Council for Natural Scientists, and was a member of the international advisory board of the Royal Society of Chemistry journal, Perkin Transactions 1.

Notable awards received by Goosen were the AECI Gold Medal of the South African Chemical Institute in 1975, followed by the Gold Medal in 1992 in recognition of his contribution to chemical education and research on free radical reactions.

He was a member of the Royal Society of Chemistry (London), a Fellow of the Royal Society of South Africa, and a Honorary Life Member of the South African Chemical Institute. He was registered with the South African Council for Natural Scientists.

Aside from his stint at Imperial College, he was also a Visiting Professor at the University of Utah (USA) in 1972 at the invitation of Professor Cheves Walling, a notable figure in free radical chemistry. Later came spells as Visiting Lecturer at the University of Aberdeen (UK) in 1978, and Visiting Scientist at the Weizmann Institute (Israel) in 1985.

Goosen was an inspiring lecturer and supervisor whose energy and positivity seemed boundless. He revelled in his work and would claim, "I have never worked a day in my life!” Such was his enthusiasm for chemistry that this was quite believable. He was a productive researcher, blessed with excellent practical skills, who authored 80 research papers and supervised 34 MSc and 15 PhD students.

In his time, Goosen injected new perspectives into the South African chemistry scene. From Imperial College he brought the modern mechanistic approach to teaching organic chemistry. When he assumed the post at UPE, organic chemistry research in South Africa was largely based on natural products, the field in which he himself was schooled. However, he broke new ground, shifting his focus to physical organic chemistry, working on the chemistry of free radicals and other reactive intermediates. This move proved to be a percipient one as his career would coincide with what was arguably a golden era for physical organic chemistry. His group would make significant contributions to the chemistry of organic hypoiodites, peroxides, N-iodoamides and related species. Aside from the fundamental research, he also engaged with industry on applied problems, most notably with AECI, UCOR, Sasol and Illovo Sugar.

After he retired from university life in 1993, Goosen entered local politics, representing the Democratic Alliance as a Councillor and in various other capacities in the Port Elizabeth Transitional Local Council and subsequently in the Nelson Mandela Bay Metropole Council (2000-2011).

Throughout his life he was active in various community, church and sailing circles; in his later years he became a keen bowler. He had the enviable knack of balancing work and play, performance with pleasure. Although it was never to be his occupation, he indulged his passion for sailing in his leisure time, at first with a dinghy on the Swartkops River, where he became Commodore of the Redhouse Yacht Club. Later there was Eve, a thirty-one foot keelboat that he sailed from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth and moored in the harbour at the Algoa Bay Yacht Club. Weekend sailing in the bay gave him endless pleasure, sometimes with postgraduate students roped in as crew. At home he and Joan were excellent hosts and he would be at his most affable with the company of friends and a glass of cabernet sauvignon close at hand.

Professor André Goosen was a widely respected and loved man who touched many lives in various arenas. He will be remembered for his high ethical and professional standards, his deep concern for the people he worked with, and above all his love of learning, which inspired those around him. Predeceased by his wife Joan and daughter Dalene, he is survived by their sons Raoul and Pierre.

Emeritus Professor Cedric W. McCleland, Department of Chemistry, Nelson Mandela University

 

Prof. Ben Zeelie

                                                              

Prof Ben Zeelie dedicated his life to developing his team of staff and students. Encouraging them to take responsibility for each other. He believed in making Science practical and relevant to the public.
On a more formal note, he obtained his PhD in Chemistry at the University of Port Elizabeth and paid it forward by acting as promoter/co-promoter for 63 masters and doctorate students, this excludes those he examined and consulted for. Refereed Publications he wrote totalled 27 that we know of and 19 Patents excluding those on Coal fine Purification, Microalgae Cultivation, Process equipment and Coalgae which were either granted, filed or registered between 2010 and 2015. He contributed to over 50 conference proceedings during his career.
Some of the coursed he developed included:

  • Research Methodology for Chemists” - for B Tech/Honours and new master’s degree students.

  • “Laboratory Process Development” – course for Master’s degree students.

  • “Good Research Practice” – an informal course for Master’s and Doctoral students in good research practices.

  • “M Tech: Chemistry (Product and Process Development) - a structured Master’s degree as a “Technical” alternative to the traditional MBA.

  • “BSc Honours in formulation Science” – a multi-disciplinary program aimed at new product development.

  • “Diploma in Chemical Process Technology” – a program for the training of process technicians and process operators.

Government services played a pivotal role in his career, he was a leader in establishing new initiatives in South Africa, a:

  • Member of task team for the preparation of the proposal for the establishment of the Automotive Components Technology Station (Tshumisano Technology Stations Programme).

  • Member of the NACI Task Team – Chemical Industry.

  • Leader of the task team for the proposal to establish the South African Chemical Technology Incubator in Port Elizabeth (Former GODISA Incubator Programmes).

  • Chairperson of the Board of Directors – South Africa Chemical Technology Incubator.

  • Author of the proposal to establish the Downstream Chemicals Technology Station (Tshumisano Technology Stations Programme).

  • Member of the South African Research Infrastructure Roadmap Team (2013).

Technology Transfer and Entrepreneurial contributions Prof Zeelie was instrumental in or a founder of, can be listed as follows:

  • Established “ChemQuest”, the commercial analytical service arm of the department of chemistry, 1992. (EX-PET Unit – Now operating as InnoVenton Analytical).

  • “EnviroQuest”, Spin-off company formed from ChemQuest activities, 1998 (CC).

  • “Techno-Lab Services”, Spin-off company formed from ChemQuest activities, 2001. (CC).

  • Project leader for the establishment of “CHEMIN”, The South African Chemical Technology Incubator, 2002. (S21 Company).

  • Established the Chemical Technology Centre (CTC) at PET for the scale-up and commercialisation of chemical production processes, 2004 (now incorporated into the Institute of Chemical Technology).

  • Team member in the establishment of “PET Innovations”, the commercial arm for the exploitation of PE Technikon held IP, 2003. (Pty Company).

  • Led task team for the establishment of the “Office of Innovation Support and Technology Transfer” at the NMMU (2006)

  • Insect repellent formulation: Product development, manufacturing and commercialisation.

  • Rose preservation process, AfricaEverose, now Floralush Pty LTD (2007)

  • Established InnoVenton: NMMU Institute for Chemical Technology (2005)

University Services:

  • Member of the NMMU Central Research Committee.

  • Member of the Faculty of Science Research Committee.

  • Member of the NMMU Intellectual Property Committee.

  • Leader of Task Team to Develop Innovation Support and Technology Transfer Structures for the NMMU.

  • Member of Senate.

  • Member of the NMMU Innovations Committee.

  • Member of the NMMU Engagement Committee.

  • Member of the NMMU Task Team to revise the NMMU’s Performance Management System.

  • Proposer for the establishment of a SARChI Chair in Microfluidic Bio/Chemical Processing (2012).

  • Examiner/moderator for other higher education institutions:

    • University of the Free State (MSc).

    • University of Potchefstroom (MSc).

    • University of Port Elizabeth (BSc Hons (Statistics)).

    • Rhodes University (Reviewer for industrial chemistry projects).

    • University of Pretoria (MSc).

    • University of Cape Town (M Eng).

    • Rand Afrikaans University (MSc).

      • Member of task team for the establishment of the Centre of Excellence in Catalysis at UCT.

      • External reviewer for UCT – Entities Program.

      • External Advisor for the Merger of Chemistry Departments – Walter Sisulu University.

His services to the South African Chemical and Allied industries are too numerous to mention, and range from proposals, technical solutions for problems, characterizations, various specialist studies to tailor made courses for particular applications and skills development.
Also this quote from Nelson Mandela is very apt in respect of Ben:
“What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.” Ben certainly made a big difference to a number of lives.
Dr Melissa Gouws
Technology Station Manager
InnoVenton

Mr. Gerhard von Gruenewaldt

                                                           

The National Research Foundation regrets to announce the passing of Gerhard von Gruenewaldt, a former vice-president of the organisation and one of its driving forces in its progress since its establishment.

He joined the NRF’s forerunner, the Foundation for Research Development (FRD) in 1992 as vice-president for programmes and planning where he was instrumental in realigning research support for higher education with the changing realities and needs of the new South Africa. On the establishment of the NRF, he was appointed its vice-president and managing director for its Research Support Division where he helped integrate the activities of the former FRD and the Centre for Science Development (CSD) and the establishment of the new research support framework for the natural sciences, engineering, social sciences and humanities. He also oversaw the Technology and Human Resource for Industry Programme (THRIP) on behalf of the Department of Trade and Industry and the Innovation Fund on behalf of the Department of Science and Technology.

Gerhard also worked as a consultant and part time research advisor to the University of the Witwatersrand. In recent years he was involved extensively with various projects relating to the evaluation of research programmes and research infrastructure. Apart from his involvement with TechnoScene in the study of “The Required Physical Infrastructure to Attain the Vision of the National System of Innovation”; an “Interim Review of the South African Research Chairs Initiative (SARChI)”; and a review of the National Equipment and the National Nanotechnology Equipment programmes, he conducted investigations entitled “A Proposed Recapitalisation Strategy of the National Research Facilities” and “An Optimal Model for the Establishment of a South African Polar Research Entity”, both for the NRF. He served as chairperson of the five yearly review of the Council for Geoscience in 2009 and, since retiring from the NRF, remained involved with the evaluation and rating of South African scientists.

Gerhard also worked as a consultant and part time research advisor to the University of the Witwatersrand. In recent years he was involved extensively with various projects relating to the evaluation of research programmes and research infrastructure. Apart from his involvement with TechnoScene in the study of “The Required Physical Infrastructure to Attain the Vision of the National System of Innovation”; an “Interim Review of the South African Research Chairs Initiative (SARChI)”; and a review of the National Equipment and the National Nanotechnology Equipment programmes, he conducted investigations entitled “A Proposed Recapitalisation Strategy of the National Research Facilities” and “An Optimal Model for the Establishment of a South African Polar Research Entity”, both for the NRF. He served as chairperson of the five yearly review of the Council for Geoscience in 2009 and, since retiring from the NRF, remained involved with the evaluation and rating of South African scientists.

Gerhard was born in Germany in 1942 and studied Geology at the University of Pretoria where he obtained his BSc, Honours, Master’s and Doctorate and where he worked as Lecturer and Head of the university’s Geology Department for 13 years. He was awarded a Research Fellowship from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation at the University of Munich in 1974. He was appointed an Honorary Professorship in the Department of Earth Sciences at the University of Pretoria in 2002.

As a scientist, Gerhard made significant contributions to research on the genesis of rocks in the unique Bushveld Complex and associated ore deposits. His work, particularly in the field of platinum mineralisation, led to valuable new insights regarding the nature of occurrence and genesis of these important ores which, besides earning him international recognition as a scientist, including an A-rating from the FRD in 1989, have had considerable importance for the South African mining industry.

Among his many achievements, Gerhard was awarded the Corstorphine Medal and student’s prize from the Geological Society of South Africa in 1966 and its Draper Memorial Medal in 1990 as well as the Award for Excellent Achievements from the University of Pretoria. He authored and co-authored more than 60 research papers and supervised 23 masters and seven doctoral students.

The NRF gratefully acknowledges Gerhard’s contribution to the advancement of science in South Africa.

He leaves behind a wife and two children.