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University of Cape Town (UCT)
Universiteit van Kaapstad

South Africa

The University of Cape Town’s research magazine

The University of Cape Town’s research magazine

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

As a leading research university, 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. 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.

Healthcare for Africa

In a country that faces four epidemics, where most countries only have one or two, UCT has developed expertise in addressing healthcare in Africa. The Institute of Infectious Disease and Molecular Medicine and the Drug Discovery and Development Centre have produced ground-breaking research, particularly in the areas of HIV, TB and malaria. The Wellcome Centre for Infectious Diseases Research in Africa is the first of its kind in Africa.

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 research group. The Future Water Institute builds on UCT’s substantial research footprint in water and encompasses the skills and resources of departments across six faculties. UCT also hosts two Centres of Excellence under the African Research Universities Alliance, which draw together expertise from across the continent: the African Centre of Excellence for Inequalities Research and the Centre of Excellence in Climate and Development.

Experts in the southern skies

Through its global experts in the field, such as Professor George Ellis who co-wrote The Large Scale Structure of Space-Time with Stephen Hawking, and leading role in the Square Kilometre Array, UCT is a growing hub for astronomical and astrophysics research in Africa. Professor Russ Taylor is heading up the university’s involvement in the Square Kilometre Array project and the big-data challenges it brings.

UCT’s latest research

UCT’s research magazine, Umthombo, features research stories from across the university, as does its research and innovation news site.

University of Cape Town retains sole responsibility for content © 2020 University of Cape Town.

1 July 2019 - 30 June 2020

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 July 2019 - 30 June 2020 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.

Count Share
167 15.06

Outputs by subject (Share)

Subject Count Share
Physical Sciences 88 3.12
Life Sciences 47 3.85
Earth & Environmental Sciences 34 6.54
Chemistry 8 2.55

Highlight of the month

Unexpected origin of oceanic microfibres

© Jonathan Knowles/Getty

© Jonathan Knowles/Getty

Most marine microfibres are from natural sources, and not plastics as previously thought.

Microfibres are the fine strands used to make clothing and other textiles and are constantly shed into the environment through washing and wear and tear. Currently, two thirds of man-made fibres are synthetic, so it is widely assumed that most microfibres now in the ocean are plastics.

A team that included researchers from the University of Cape Town analysed more than 23,500 microfibres filtered from 916 surface water samples from six oceans, and found that 92% were of plant and animal origin, and only 8% were synthetic. They suggest this may be because synthetic fibres shed less in the wash, or because natural fibres degrade slower due to dyes and other chemical coatings.

The findings suggest that the ecological impacts of natural fibres, which remain poorly understood, should be considered in future marine pollution studies.

Supported content

  1. Science Advances 6, eaay8493 (2020). doi: 10.1126/sciadv.aay8493

View the article on the Nature Index

See more research highlights from University of Cape Town (UCT)

More research highlights from University of Cape Town (UCT)

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