Two Fellowships were awarded by the Trust in 2004, jointly to Professors Igor Barashenkov and Frank Brombacher of the University of Cape Town to allow them to pursue their respective research interests in Europe.
Barashenkov obtained his MSc from Moscow State University and his PhD in Mathematical and Theoretical Physics from the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research in Dubna, Russia. He joined the Department of Mathematics and Applied Mathematics at UCT in 1992 and is recognised by his peers as a world leader in his field. His studies on the mathematical aspects of solitary waves and localised patterns have revolutionised a range of areas of mathematics and physics, and have strong practical applications in nonlinear optics, magnetism and ferrofluids.
The Fellowship enabled Professor Barashenkov to visit the physics group at Germany’s University of Bayreuth. As an academic who receives research funding from a variety of established scientific bodies – whose job it is to so fund – he comments “In the case of the Oppenheimer Fellowship, the Award comes directly from society, and the implication is that society as a whole, not just academia, appreciates the value of what you are doing. It is enormously stimulating and an example of a balanced and thought-over philanthropy which takes into consideration the academic construction as a whole, not just some portion of it.” This sense of a broader value, both to science and to South Africa, was confirmed when the work completed by him and his colleagues took centre stage at the annual symposium of the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics in Rome in 2006. “Several hundred physicists and mathematicians from around the globe were there to hear first-hand South Africa’s contribution to intellectual endeavour.”
Barashenkov is a NRF A rated researcher and over and above his distinguished service to UCT over the past twenty years, has held or holds a number of long-standing visiting positions at leading international institutions such as the Max Planck Institute, the Nonlinear Physics Centre of the Australian National University, the New Zealand Institute for Advanced Studies and the University of Bayreuth.