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, 2017-18; 171 in the world THE 2017-18), 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. UCT is the first university in Africa to join the International Alliance of Research Universities (IARU). 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.
Climate and development
UCT has extensive interdisciplinary expertise in conservation, climate adaptation and community conflict. The AXA Research Fund awarded its first research chair in Africa to the director of the African Climate & Development Initiative, a leading interdisciplinary research group. The Percy FitzPatrick Institute was identified as a Centre of Excellence (CoE) in Birds as Keys to Biodiversity Conservation in 2004; UCT ranks 3rd in the world in ornithology (CWUR 2017). The Future Water Institute builds on UCT’s substantial research footprint in water and encompasses the skills and resources of 10 different departments across six faculties.
Healthcare for Africa
In a country that faces four epidemics, where most countries only have one or two, UCT has developed unique expertise in addressing healthcare in Africa. The Institute of Infectious Disease and Molecular Medicine (IDM) and the Drug Discovery and Development Centre (H3D) have produced ground-breaking research, particularly in HIV, TB and malaria. A Wellcome Centre for Infectious Diseases Research in Africa (CIDRI-Africa) – the first of its kind in Africa – will be established at UCT. In 2017, UCT received the highest number of direct awards, as well as the highest amount of funding, from the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) of any other higher education institution outside the US.
Read the latest issue of Umthombo, our magazine featuring research stories from across the university. Umthombo is the isiXhosa word for a natural spring of water or fountain. The most notable features of a fountain are its natural occurrence and limitlessness. Umthombo as a name positions the University of Cape Town, and this publication in particular, as an undepletable well of knowledge. In the context of the Cape Town water crisis, Umthombo represents hope itself.
University of Cape Town retains sole responsibility for content © 2018 University of Cape Town.
1 October 2018 - 30 September 2019
Subject/journal group: All
The table to the right includes counts of all research outputs for University of Cape Town (UCT) published between 1 October 2018 - 30 September 2019 which are tracked by the Nature Index.
Hover over the donut graph to view the FC 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.
Outputs by subject (Share)
|Earth & Environmental Sciences||35||6.99|
Highlight of the month
Rubbish news from a remote island
© Hannele Lahti/Getty
Rubbish washing up on an uninhabited island in the Atlantic is mainly plastic bottles dumped at sea by cargo ships from Asia.
Many remote islands receive a constant stream of debris, delivered by ocean currents, that includes increasing amounts of plastic waste generally assumed to come from distant shores.
A team that included researchers from the University of Cape Town surveyed the mountains of litter on Inaccessible Island in the South Atlantic Ocean in the 1980s and again in 2009 and 2018, noting the country of origin for thousands of items. Their analysis revealed that the main source of waste has shifted from South America to Asia — by 2018, three quarters of all plastic bottles that washed up were made in Asia (mainly China).
The recent manufacturing dates on many bottles suggest they did not drift from the mainland, and were most likely dumped from Asian cargo ships.
- PNAS 116, 20892–20897 (2019). doi: 10.1073/pnas.1909816116
See more research highlights from University of Cape Town (UCT)
28 Nov 2019
31 Oct 2019
30 Sep 2019
27 May 2019
25 Apr 2019
2 Apr 2019
28 Feb 2019
1 Feb 2019
26 Dec 2018
Top articles by Altmetric score in current window
Global ensemble projections reveal trophic amplification of ocean biomass declines with climate change.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Patterns of satellite tagged hen harrier disappearances suggest widespread illegal killing on British grouse moors
1 October 2018 - 30 September 2019
International vs. domestic collaboration by Share
- 9.25% Domestic
- 90.75% International
Note: Hover over the graph to view the percentage of collaboration.
Top 10 domestic collaborators by Share (48 total)
- University of Cape Town (UCT), South Africa
- Domestic institution
Stellenbosch University (SU), South Africa
University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg (Wits University), South Africa
Department of Science and Technology (DST), South Africa
National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS), South Africa
South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC), South Africa
University of the Western Cape (UWC), South Africa
University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN), South Africa
Rhodes University (RU), South Africa
SKA South Africa, South Africa
Nelson Mandela University (NMU), South Africa
Top 10 international collaborators by Share (1461 total)
- University of Cape Town (UCT), South Africa
- Foreign institution
The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST), China
National Institute for Nuclear Physics (INFN), Italy
University of Oxford, United Kingdom (UK)
French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS), France
The University of Melbourne (UniMelb), Australia
Cardiff University, United Kingdom (UK)
European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), Switzerland
Stanford University, United States of America (USA)
Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres, Germany
National Institutes of Health (NIH), United States of America (USA)
Note: Collaboration is determined by the fractional count (Share), which is listed in parentheses.
Affiliated joint institutions and consortia
- ALICE Collaboration, Switzerland
- Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa (CAPRISA), South Africa
- Collaboration for AIDS Vaccine Discovery (CAVD), United States of America (USA)
- Comprehensive International Program of Research on AIDS (CIPRA), South Africa
- DST-NRF Centre of Excellence in Mathematical and Statistical Sciences (CoE-MaSS), South Africa
- DST-NRF Centre of Excellence in Palaeosciences (CoE-Pal), South Africa
- Functional Annotation of the Mammalian Genome (FANTOM), Japan
- International Centre for Education, Marine and Atmospheric Sciences over Africa (ICEMASA), South Africa
- More Medicines for Tuberculosis (MM4TB), Switzerland
- Nansen-Tutu Centre for Marine Environmental Research, South Africa
- Organization for Tropical Studies (OTS), United States of America (USA)
- SAMRC Risk and Resilience in Mental Disorders Research Unit, South Africa
Numerical information only is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.