Dr Albert van Jaarsveld is the new Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of KwaZulu-Natal, and assumed duty on the 2 February 2015. He was until recently Chief Executive Officer of the National Research Foundation. His career in research, teaching and leadership include academic and management positions at the Universities of Pretoria and Stellenbosch, as Dean of Science, Adjunct Professor: Environmental Studies Programme at Dartmouth College, USA, Vice President and more recently, President and CEO of the National Research Foundation.
He obtained his PhD in Zoology from the University of Pretoria. Pursued post-doctoral studies and research in Conservation Biology and Global security in Australia and the UK respectively and completed executive management training at Harvard University. His research work focussed on biodiversity and conservation planning, biodiversity and climate change as well as ecosystem services. He was appointed full Professor at both the Universities of Pretoria and Stellenbosch and has published in excess of 100 primary research papers, including highly cited works in Science and Nature.
During his tenure as CEO of the National Research Foundation, the budget of the NRF increased from R 2bn to R 4bn and the organisation contributed to driving excellence and transformation across the national research landscape. Over this period ISI research outputs increased by 48% and PhD graduations by 57%. The number of NRF rated researchers increased by 56%, black rated researchers by 55% and women rated researchers by 36%. The NRF increased doctoral support by 48% and the global research citation impact of South African science increased by 25% between 2009 and 2014. In addition, SALT became fully operational, Africa won the SKA bid and infrastructure investment at Universities and Science Councils were dramatically increased.Capital investments of R300m were made to rejuvenate the National Research Facilities.
Dr van Jaarsveld is recipient of numerous Professional Awards, including awards as an Outstanding Young Scientist; Outstanding Academic Achiever; the Chancellor’s award for Excellence in Tuition and Learning from the University of Pretoria; University of Stellenbosch Vice-Chancellors award for Research Excellence; and the Centenary Medal for distinguished career in research, teaching and leadership from the “South African Academy of Science and Arts”. He is co-recipient of the International Zayed prize for the Environment, a member of several professional and academic organisations and associations, including being a Fellow of the Royal Society of South Africa and an elected member of the South African Academy of Sciences.
On the international front, Dr van Jaarsveld has served as co-chair of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment follow-up: Sub-global assessments; member of the ICSU nominations committee; as IPBES science focal point; Chair of the G8 science ministers Group of Senior Officials on Global Research Infrastructure; and Chair of the International Group of Funding Agencies (IGFA), Co-Chair of the Belmont Forum and as a member of the ICSU review panel (2013-2014).