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Biographies Excom Members

Dr Gillian Arendse

Dr Gillian Arendse is a well-known and loved presenter at many an Educational event; whether a school, conference or symposium. He is an experimental nuclear physicist (by training), motivator (by choice and conviction),  and  a general all-rounder committed to use his gifts and talents to impact the lives of every person with whom he interacts. His passion to leave people better than he found them is fueled by a need to be challenged on a daily basis. He is currently employed by the NRF-iThemba LABS as Manager: Communication and Stakeholder Relations; a position he took up on 1 July 2020.

Dr. Faïçal Azaiez

Dr. Faïçal Azaiez is the Director of iThemba LABS since 2016.

Dr. Azaiez obtained his PhD in 1984 from the Institut de Physique Nucléaire, IPN-Orsay in France. His field of expertise include Experimental Nuclear Physics, Accelerator Physics, Nuclear Physics Applications, large-scale organisation management & large-scale project management. He has a clear vision of the present and future activities worldwide in those fields and consequently the ability to lead the research effort within iThemba LABS. He also has a key role in defining, with the NRF and the stakeholder community, a national strategy for accelerator-based science in South Africa. Dr Azaiez has an international reputation and enjoys membership of many international committees (NuPECC, Academia Europaea, EPS). Not only has he been involved in defining scientific roadmaps and strategies, but also in steering various scientific and technological projects.

Mr. Philip Beukes

Mr. Philip Beukes is the Head: Radiation Safety Health Environment and Quality at the NRF iThemba LABS. A Health Physicist by training with an established track record in operational radiation safety and occupational health and safety.

His responsibilities extend across the Radiation Protection and Occupational Health and Safety spectrum, with more than a decade’s experience in the field. Former chairman of the South African Radiobiology Society and council member of the South African Association for Physics in Medicine and Biology.  Holder of various technical and leadership roles, in addition, he has been actively involved in skills development programs, teaching at tertiary institutions and mentoring of interns.

Philip holds post graduate qualifications in Nuclear Medicine (MScMedSc) from Stellenbosch University (2012) and Medical Physics (BMedSc Hons) obtained from the University of the Free State (2006). He completed his undergraduate studies at the University of the Free State in 2004.

Dr Pete Jones

Dr Pete Jones is the acting head of the Instrumentation and Information Technology Department since 2020.  Dr Jones manages four divisions of electronics, instrumentation and software engineers, designers, technicians, developers, and mechanical designers and engineers. The Department develops both research and operations at all of the iThemba laboratories, including experiments and isotope production and also supports cyberinfrastructure and IT operations. Dr Jones’ expertise in radiation detection, detector design, instrumentation, data acquisition and computation skills provides a lead for the department to engage with research departments, both on a local and international scale.  Through the inclusion of his knowledge of science, research, instrumentation, engineering and computing, the department remains vibrant and dynamic.

Dr Jones is also a Senior Scientist in experimental nuclear physics, specialising in conversion-electron, pair, and gamma-ray spectroscopy to study and understand the underlying nuclear structure which forms the building-blocks of matter, life, and makes up our world and Universe.  He has collaborated in experiments at accelerator facilities worldwide, for example in Australia, Finland, Germany, Italy, Norway, Russia, UK, USA and currently is the spokesperson for experiments and research projects at iThemba LABS, CERN (Switzerland) and JINR (Russia).

Dr Jones holds an NRF B rating as an internationality acclaimed researcher and has authored or co-authored over 380 publications.  He has supervised over 15 post-doctoral researchers, M.Sc. and Ph.D. students.  He is also a reviewer of journals such as Nuclear Instruments and Methods and  Applied Radiation and Isotopes.

Dr Jones holds Ph.D. and B.Sc.(Hons) Degrees from the University of Liverpool (UK)

Dr Morgan Madhuku

Dr Morgan Madhuku is the Acting Manager of the Tandem and Accelerator Mass Spectrometry (TAMS) Department in Gauteng since February 2020. TAMS came about after the transfer of the research facilities of the old Schonland Research Centre for Nuclear Sciences to the NRF in January 2005. TAMS provides research facilities for Accelerator Mass Spectrometry (AMS), Materials engineering and research using Ion Beam Analysis (IBA) techniques, Ion Implantation, Environmental Radioactivity, and stable light isotope analyses.

Morgan is a Research Scientist in Experimental Condensed Matter Physics with interests in ion beam-induced synthesis, modification and analysis of materials and hydrogen studies in wide bandgap materials by means of Muon Spin Rotation, Relaxation and Resonance (µSR) techniques.

Morgan holds a Ph.D. in Experimental Nuclear-Solid State Physics from the University of the Witwatersrand, M.Sc. in Physics from the University of Fort Hare, and a B.Sc. (Hon.) in Applied Physics from the National University of Science and Technology (NUST) in Zimbabwe.

Dr Mlungisi Nkosi

Dr Mlungisi Nkosi is the head of the Materials Research Department (MRD) of iThemba LABS since August 2016. His research interest is in physico-chemical properties of metal thin films using the electron beam evaporator, Ion Beam Analysis, Atomic Force Microscopy, Nanolithography and X-ray diffraction facilities. Over the years, Dr Nkosi participated in a number of scientific collaborations with local and foreign researchers. The results of his collaborative research is published in a number of publications and conference proceedings indexed in the Web of Science. He has a PhD in Chemistry from the University of the Western Cape and his thesis was in collaboration with the Joint Institute of Nuclear Research (JINR) in Russia.

Mr Vincent Spannenberg

Mr Vincent Spannenberg has extensive experience in managing financial and business administration departments at all spheres of government (local, provincial and national). He has been involved in several major projects from planning to implementation phase as well as the operational phase. His role include Financial Management, Supply Chain and Business Administration. Mr Spannenberg is a Cost & Management Accounting (CMA) graduate with the Institute of Administration Commerce and has Master’s in Business Administration with Management College of South Africa.

Dr Le Roux Strydom

Dr Le Roux Strydom is head of the Accelerator Department of iThemba LABS since 2020.  Dr Strydom is an experienced project manager leading a team of 57 personnel that includes engineers, scientists and technicians who are responsible for operating and maintaining various accelerators including a 6 MV Tandem accelerator, a 200 MeV separated-sector cyclotron with two injector cyclotrons (with one internal ion source for light ions and two external sources: an ECR ion source for heavy ions and a polarized ion source for protons and deuterons). The accelerators service basic nuclear physics research and training, and producing radiopharmaceuticals for medical diagnostics in hospitals and clinics. His key functions are to manage the implementation of the SAIF project as well as the development, operation and maintenance of the various accelerators and associated infrastructure, and the provision of accelerated charged particle beams of the type, quality and quantity, which meet the requirements of internationally competitive research and applications in the physical and biomedical sciences. The department continually strives to improve the quality of the service provided to users and stakeholders through the research, design and implementation of innovative accelerator and beam transport technologies.

Dr Strydom’s career spans 36 years, including working in research and development at CSIR as well as long periods in the private sector (Arcelor-Mittal, New Reclamation Group) and public sector (NTP Radioisotopes – Necsa) in various roles including R&D management and business development.

Dr Strydom holds a Ph.D, M.Sc and B.Sc in Physics from the University of the Free State as well as an M.Sc in Engineering Management from the University of Pretoria.

Prof Mathis Wiedeking

Prof Mathis Wiedeking is the holder of a SARChI Research Chair in Nuclear Physics and the Head of the Department of Subatomic Physics at NRF-iThemba LABS.

His main research focus lies on the origin of the elements in the cosmos through nucleosynthesis processes and the intricately linked interactions driving the structure nuclei. Mathis has supervised over 20 post-doctoral researchers, M.Sc. and Ph.D. students, and authored or co-authored over 160 publications. 

As Head of Department Mathis leads, develops and promotes the department to achieve the strategic goals in research, development, training, and outreach. 

He is a Distinguished Professor at the University of the Witwatersrand, a Visiting Professor at the University of Johannesburg and a Visiting Scientist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

Mathis obtained the M.Phys. degree from the University of Surrey (UK) and the Ph.D. degree from the Florida State University (USA) and has worked at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory prior to joining NRF-iThemba LABS.