UCT professor elected as next President of International Council for Science

uctA world-renowned mathematician and current South African Research Chair in Computational Mechanics, Professor Daya Reddy from the University of Cape Town, has been named the next President of the International Council for Science (ICSU). The announcement was made at the ICSU’s 31st General Assembly in Auckland, New Zealand, this week. Another South African academic, University of Pretoria Vice-Chancellor Professor Cheryl de la Rey, has also been elected as ICSU Executive Board Member.

Professor Reddy from the Department of Mathematics and Applied Mathematics at UCT will take over the reins from Dr Gordon McBean, current President of the ICSU, in October 2017. Professor Reddy is presently the President of the Academy of Science in South Africa as well as the Director of the Centre for Research in Computational and Applied Mechanics.

Congratulating Professor Reddy on this remarkable recognition by the ICSU, Professor Danie Visser, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research at UCT, said: “Professor Reddy’s election is not only a feather in the cap of UCT, but of the South African science community as a whole for its achievements and contributions to science dialogue and exchanges, and for ultimately helping to address global challenges. This international leadership position will enable UCT and our country’s science community to bring more African-born solutions to the table, when appropriate, and to accentuate the science breakthroughs made in the developing world.”


According to the ICSU, the non-governmental organisation mobilises the knowledge and resources of the international scientific community to strengthen international science for the benefit of society. The ICSU has a global membership of national scientific bodies (121 members, representing 141 countries) and international scientific unions (31 members).


Professor Reddy says: “ICSU is in a special position to promote the values of science and to provide leadership in seeking scientific approaches to the world’s problems. I look forward very much to working with my colleagues in ICSU in the task of realising these goals. I am particularly keen to ensure that ICSU becomes as inclusive as possible, so that as the voice of science we are in fact able to mobilise the scientific community worldwide.”

Born in Port Elizabeth, Professor Reddy obtained his BSc degree in civil engineering from UCT, followed by a PhD degree from the University of Cambridge. He was appointed professor of applied mathematics at UCT in 1989, and served as dean of its science faculty from 1999 to 2005. In 2004, former President Thabo Mbeki awarded him the Order of Mapungubwe (Bronze) for distinguished contributions to science. He also received the Georg Forster Research Award from the prestigious Alexander von Humboldt Foundation in Germany in 2012. He currently serves as Co-Chair of the InterAcademy Council, which delivers reports on scientific, technological and health issues for governments and global organisations.

Professor Reddy’s research interests lie at the intersection of continuum mechanics, applied functional analysis, and numerical analysis and computing. His research programmes address issues such as the formulation in mathematical terms of problems in continuum mechanics; studies of how well such problems are posed; construction by computational means of approximate solutions; and studies of the quality of such approximations. His recent major interests have been in the areas of plasticity, biomechanics and mixed finite element methods.


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