Three researchers from Wits recently earned the distinction of being named among the “Highly Cited Researchers” by renowned Thomson Reuters, the world’s leading source of intelligent information for businesses and professionals.
The three Witsies, Professor Lyn Wadley, Professor Rachel Jewkes and Professor Christopher Henshilwood, are part of a list of more than 3000 researchers from all over the world, hailed for their groundbreaking research in their different disciplines.
“Highly Cited Researchers 2014 represents some of world’s leading scientific minds. Over three thousand researchers earned the distinction by writing the greatest numbers of reports officially designated by Essential Science IndicatorsâÂÂ as Highly Cited Papers – ranking among the top 1% most cited for their subject field and year of publication, earning them the mark of exceptional impact,” says Thomson Reuters on its website.
Wadley, Honorary Professor of Archaeology in the Wits School of Geography, Archaeology and Environment, is an NRF A-rated researcher. Her main research interest is ancient cognition and her experimental archaeology is geared towards understanding the mental architecture required for various behaviours.
Experiments include the production and use of compound adhesives and heat treatment of rocks, and she has examined the implications of these technologies for cognition. Wadley joined the Institute for Human Evolution at Wits (now the Evolutionary Sciences Institute) in 2008, where she continues her research as Honorary Professor.
“Although I am named in my personal capacity, the recognition is beneficial for the wider archaeological discipline in South Africa. Our incredible heritage is taken far more seriously outside of Africa than on the continent, and perhaps tributes like that from Thomson Reuters help to alert South Africans to the value of their national treasures,” says Wadley.
Jewkes is the Director of the Medical Research Council’s Gender and Health Research Unit and an Honorary Professor in the Wits School of Public Health in the Faculty of Health Sciences. An NRF A-rated researcher, Jewkes is a public health specialist, epidemiologist and social researcher. For two decades she has undertaken research into the interface of gender inequity and gender-based violence and health, particularly HIV/AIDS, at the Medical Research Council.
Her work has followed a public health approach, with an emphasis on describing the scale and nature of the problem of gender-based violence in South Africa through epidemiology, understanding its context and the dimensions and dynamics of gender inequity in relationshipsusing qualitative methods, and developing and evaluating interventions for responses in the health, education and NGO sectors.
She has spent many years developing the health sector response to rape in South Africa, through research and policy development. Her current focus is on ‘What works to prevent violence?’ and she is the Director of a DFID-funded Global Programme that is seeking to greatly advance knowledge in this area.
“I am delighted to be named by Thomson Reuters. For the last 20 years my goal has been to use research to prevent gender-based violence and understand how to provide the best help for survivors. Communicating findings is a critical part of this. The wonderful thing about being highly cited is that it shows affirmation from my peers. We will only have an impact through working together, and knowing my work and ideas are valued by others and used in global efforts to end violence is terrific,” says Jewkes.
Henshilwood holds a National Research Foundation funded Chair and Professorship at the Evolutionary Studies Institute at Wits. He is the Professor of African Prehistory in the Archaeology, History, Culture and Religion Institute at the University of Bergen, Norway.
Since 1991 Henshilwood has directed excavations at Stone Age sites in South Africa for which he has received more than 20 major grants. A focus of the research is on the 100 000 – 70 000 year old levels at Blombos Cave that are providing evidence of the earliest known complex behaviours including pigment processing toolkits, marine shell beads, engraved ochres and bone tools, among other finds. Henshilwood is leading new excavations at two Middle Stone Age sites, Klipdrift Shelter and Klipdrift Cave, situated in the De Hoop Nature Reserve, southern Cape. In 2011 deposits from the Howiesons Poort period (c. 66 000 – 59 000 years) were discovered at the shelter.
With his research team he increasingly provides evidence for an African origin for behavioural and technological modernity associated with Homo sapiens from about 100 000 years ago and has decisively shown that Africa is the birthplace for the early development of modern human cognition.
He has published more than 40 papers in leading peer reviewed journals, volumes and books on aspects of African archaeology, especially the Middle and Later Stone Age; on the origins of language and symbolism; the effects of climatic variation on human demographics; the epistemology of early behavioural evolution.
“It is a proud moment to be named as a Thomson Reuters Highly Cited Researcher but the credit must be shared with my outstanding team of multi-disciplinary researchers and students that I have been privileged to work with over the past 25 years.”
“Together with these talented scientists we have been increasingly providing evidence for a southern African origin for behavioural and technological modernity associated with Homo sapiens from about 100 000 years ago. Perhaps a highlight is our contribution to decisively showing that Africa is the birthplace for the early development of modern human cognition,” says Henshilwood.
In addition to being included in the Highly Cited Researchers list, Wadley, Jewkes and Henshilwood are also included in the Thomson Reuters 2014 The World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds.