The smartest science students at the University of the Free State

The University of the Free State (UFS) has a strong tradition of academic excellence in its 122-year history, with many notable alumni.

University of the Free State students include anti-apartheid activist Bram Fischer, Hansie Cronje, Leon Schuster, and Rolene Strauss.

The University of the Free State has eight divisions: Economic and Management Sciences, Education, Health Sciences, Law, Natural and Agricultural Sciences, Humanities, Theology, and a Business School.

MyBroadband asked the university for its top students in the tech and science fields – here they are.


Fana Gebresenbet Erda – PhD candidate in Global and European Studies

Fana Gebresenbet ErdaFana Gebresenbet Erda is the first winner of the University of the Free State Africa Spectrum Young African Scholar Award, for his research on political economy.

Erda is a PhD candidate in a Global and European Studies programme jointly offered by the University of Leipzig (Germany) and Addis Ababa University.

He will receive a three-year affiliation to the UFS’s Centre for Africa Studies as a research fellow.


Nilene van Niekerk – Master’s graduate of the Department of Architecture

Nilene Van NiekerkNilene van Niekerk is a Master’s graduate of the Department of Architecture, and featured as one of the regional winners of Corobrik’s celebration of the most outstanding architectural talent in South Africa.

Nilene’s dissertation topic was “Freedom of Expression Forum”. This architectural concept envisions a building, in the vicinity of Constitutional Hill, that symbolises protest against the Secrecy Bill.

Nilene is set to compete in the Corobrik Student Architect of the Year Awards in May.


Lehlohonolo Koao – A member of the Vice-Chancellor’s Prestige Scholars Programme

Dr Lehlohonolo Koao, from the Department of Physics, is one of the five members of the Vice-Chancellor’s Prestige Scholars Programme on the Qwaqwa Campus.

Dr Koao’s studies focus on producing batteries that last longer, store more energy, are cheaper to manufacture, and are environmentally friendly when being disposed of.


Jhon Thatcher – Honours student in Quantity Surveying

Jhon ThatcherJhon Thatcher has a degree in Quantity Surveying, and is currently doing his Honours degree in Quantity Surveying. When his studies are complete, he would like to work abroad.

Jhon received the Dean’s Medal as one of the best undergraduate students in the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences.


Madri Brink – BSc Agricultural Animal Sciences

Madri BrinkMadri Brink received the Senates Medal for the best four-year Baccalaureus degree at the University of the Free State at this year’s Autumn Graduation Ceremony.

She also received the Dean’s Medal for being the best undergraduate student in the faculty.


Kyla Hayter – BSc Genetics

Kyla Hayter received the Dean’s Medal for postgraduate studies. She also received the Senates Medal, awarded to the best Honours student at the UFS.

Kyla received her Honours Degree in Genetics. Her dream is to teach science and mathematics, and then to lecture in these fields. She is currently working on her Postgraduate Certificate in Education.


Belinda Meyer – Bachelor of Occupational Therapy

Belinda MeyerBelinda Meyer matriculated from Potchefstroom Gimnasium in 2011 with 8 distinctions.

In 2015, Belinda obtained her Bachelor of Occupational Therapy degree with distinction, and was acknowledged as the top achiever in her year.

Belinda also formed part of the A-Step tutor programme as an anatomy tutor for first-year Occupational Therapy students.

Belinda is currently completing her community service year in F.H. Odendaal Hospital in Modimolle. She plans to further her studies in Occupational Therapy.


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The smartest science students at the University of the Free State