University of Cape Town (UCT)

South Africa

The University of Cape Town’s geographical vantage point at the tip of Africa offers an exhilarating research environment that combines excellence with impact.

As a leading research university (1st in Africa THE, QS, ARWU 2015; 120 in the world THE 2015), the University of Cape Town (UCT) is one of the best places in the world to research Africa-specific problems, from the chemistry of malarial drug discovery to the development of urban Africa. We have strong collaborative networks across the globe, and often form a nexus of partnerships between researchers in the global north and global south, particularly Africa. It is therefore not surprising that we attract researchers — from postgraduates and postdoctoral fellows to leaders in their field — from all over the continent and the world.

Experts in the southern skies

UCT is fast becoming Africa’s astronomy and cosmology hub. It includes global leaders in their field, such as Professor George Ellis, who co-wrote The Large Scale Structure of Space-Time with Stephen Hawking; Professor Michael Feast, who published his first paper in Nature at 21 and his most recent at the age of 87; and Professor Russ Taylor, who is leading our involvement in the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project and the big data challenges it brings.

Conserving biodiversity

A recent paper in Nature Plants describes a local plant that engages in what is possibly the best example of faecal mimicry for seed dispersal anywhere in the world. This is typical of the work we do in our hotspot of biodiversity, with extensive interdisciplinary expertise in conservation, climate adaptation and community conflict.

Big in brains

Some neurological disorders, such as neuro-HIV, have far greater prevalence in Africa than elsewhere. UCT draws together cutting-edge technology and skills from a range of neuroscience disciplines to create a web of expertise that integrates laboratory, clinic and community, and opens new ways for Africa to contribute to the global body of knowledge in this rapidly advancing field.

University of Cape Town retains sole responsibility for content © 2015 University of Cape Town.

1 February 2016 - 31 January 2017

Region: Global
Subject/journal group: All

The table to the right includes counts of all research outputs for University of Cape Town (UCT) published between 1 February 2016 - 31 January 2017 which are tracked by the Nature Index.

Hover over the donut graph to view the WFC output for each subject. Below, the same research outputs are grouped by subject. Click on the subject to drill-down into a list of articles organized by journal, and then by title.

Note: Articles may be assigned to more than one subject area.

AC FC WFC
197 19.64 11.74

Outputs by subject (WFC)

Subject AC FC WFC
Physical Sciences 144 12.33 4.44
Life Sciences 40 4.55 4.55
Earth & Environmental Sciences 16 3.55 3.55
Chemistry 6 0.87 0.87

Highlight of the month: University of Cape Town (UCT)

Large diamonds yield cutting-edge secrets

© kWaiGon/E+/Getty

© kWaiGon/E+/Getty

The largest, most brilliant natural diamonds may have been forged in pools of molten metal deep in the Earth, a study published in Science suggests.

A research team including scientists from the University of Cape Town analysed microscopic imperfections, called inclusions, in 53 particularly large, pure diamonds. The inclusions contained traces of minerals which form at very high pressures, suggesting these large diamonds originated more than 400 kilometres below the Earth’s surface.

The scientists also detected thin layers of methane and hydrogen which they claim provided the right chemical environment to form liquid metal in the deep mantle — a reaction which has so far only been theoretically proposed.

This evidence of liquid metal could provide scientists valuable clues on the seismic activity in the mantle and shed some light on the mysterious chemistry inside our planet.

  1. Science 354,1403–1405 (2016). doi: 10.1126/science.aal1303

View the article on the Nature Index

1 February 2016 - 31 January 2017

International vs. domestic collaboration by WFC

  • 6.24% Domestic
  • 93.76% International

Note: Hover over the graph to view the percentage of collaboration.

Note: Collaboration is determined by the weighted fractional count (WFC), which is listed in parentheses.

Affiliated joint institutions and consortia

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