Finalist: Prof Philiswa Nomngongo

Associate Professor - Department of Chemical Sciences (UJ)

Prof Nomngongo was born and raised in Flagstaff, Eastern Cape (South Africa). She graduated with BSc Applied Chemistry from the School of Chemistry, the University of KwaZulu Natal in 2008 and received BSc (Hons) in Chemistry in 2009. She joined the research group of Prof. JC Ngila at both UKZN and UJ. She received her MSc and PhD degrees in 2011 and 2014 from UKZN and UJ, respectively. In 2015, she joined the Faculty of Science at UJ (Department of Applied Chemistry), as a lecturer of Analytical Chemistry and since 2017 she has been an Associate Professor of Analytical Chemistry in the same institution.


She was awarded a DST/NRF South African Research Chair in Nanotechnology for water and hold an NRF Y1 rating. Her scientific career has been dedicated to Environmental Analytical Chemistry aiming in solving different environmental problems in the field of water quality and environmental protection.

Her most important contributions have been particularly in the development of sample preparation methodologies using nanostructured materials as an adsorbent for monitoring of inorganic (toxic trace metals and metalloids) and organic pollutants (more specifically emerging pollutants which include pesticides, endocrine disruptors and personal care and pharmaceutical products) in wastewater and natural water. In the past five years, her research group has also focused application of various nanomaterial materials in fields that are attracting increasing interest, such as wastewater treatment, groundwater remediation, treatment and recovery of precious metals.

Her research achievements have been recognized through the award of prestigious fellowships and awards: L’Oreal-UNESCO Sub-Saharan Women in Science Regional fellowship in 2014; South African Women in Science award in the Distinguished Young Woman Research in the Natural and Engineering Sciences category in 2017 and Vice-Chancellor’s Distinguished Award: Most Promising Young Researcher of the Year in 2017. Her expertise is documented by the number of original publications, Google Scholar, Scopus and Web of Science H index of 20, 18 and 17, over 1000 Google Scholar citations.

Educational Background/qualifications:

  • Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) Chemistry (Analytical Chemistry), University of Johannesburg

  • Master of Science (MSc) Chemistry (Analytical Chemistry), University of KwaZulu-Natal

  • Bachelor of Science- Honours (BSc (Hons)) Chemistry, University of KwaZulu-Natal

  • Qualification: Bachelor of Science (BSc) Applied Chemistry, University of KwaZulu-Natal

2020-2024 African Academy of Science Affiliate.

2020 NSTF-South23 Award Finalist (Categories: TW Kambule: Emerging Researcher &Engineering Research Capacity Development).

2019 Mail & Guardian 200 Young South Africans

2019 NRF Y1 rating

2020 DSI/NRF SARChI Chair

2018 Finalist for Standard Bank Top Woman In Science Award

2017 South African Women in Science Award in the Distinguished Young Woman Researcher in the Natural and Engineering Sciences category

2017 University of Johannesburg Vice Chancellor’s Distinguished Award for the Most Promising Young Researcher.

2014 L’Oreal-UNESCO Sub-Saharan Women in Science Regional fellowship

Professional Development:

UJ Women in leadership programme July 2018-June 2019

UJ Research leadership programme April 2020-present

TWAS/OPCW Worship on Science diplomacy 9-13 September 2019

Professional Society Membership:

American Chemistry Society 2019-present

Royal Society of Chemistry 2017-Present

Organization for Women in Science for the Developing World 2016-Present

South African Spectroscopic Society 2014-present

South African Chemical Institute 2008-Present

Professional Activities:

Guest editor for [Journal of Chemistry] Special issue “Current Knowledge and Potential Uses of the Chemistry of Arable Weeds”

2020 Guest Editor for [Minerals] Special Issue "Greener Recovery and Separation Processes for REMs and PGMs in Various Matrices"

2020 Member of the editorial board of SN Applied Sciences (Springer Nature Journal)

2020 Member of Program & Scientific Committee, IWA conference “Water in Industry 2020, Nanjing, China, 24 to 28 August 2020

2019 Member of Local Organizing Committee, 20th WaterNet/WARFSA/GWP-SA Symposium “Integrated Water Resources Development and Management: Leaving No One Behind for Sustainable Water Security in Eastern and Southern Africa” 30th October – 1st November 2019

2018 Co-Chair of 9th Edition of International Conference on Analytical Chemistry

2018 Member of Local Organizing Committee, 4th International Symposium on Electrochemistry “Pure and Applied Electrochemistry” 3 - 5 April 2018

2018 Session Chair at 4th International Symposium on Electrochemistry “Pure and Applied Electrochemistry” 3 - 5 April 2018

2017 Guest editor for [International Journal of Analytical Chemistry] Special Issue “Electrochemical Sensors and Biosensors”

2015 Member Local Organising Committee, Emerging Frontiers for Sustainable Water- A Trilateral Partnership Africa-India-UK, 3-5 August 2015

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