2019 PLATINUM AWARD WINNER

Prof Kenneth Okechukwu Ozoemena.

Professor Kenneth Okechukwu Ozoemena hails from Obinikpa-Umuokwara Umuna in Onuimo Local Government Area of Imo State, Nigeria. He holds BSc (Hons) degree in Industrial Chemistry (upper 2nd class) from Abia State University, Nigeria (1992); MSc degree in Chemistry (1996) from University of Lagos; MSc degree in Pharmaceutical Chemistry (1998) from the College of Medicine of the University of Lagos; and a PhD degree (Chemistry) from Rhodes University, South Africa (2003).

He is a full Professor of Materials for Energy & Electrochemistry at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits University). He obtained his PhD degree from Rhodes University (2003) and worked at the same University as Andrew Mellon Lecturer in Chemistry (2004 – 2006); University of Pretoria as a Senior Lecturer in Chemistry (2006 – 2009); Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) as Chief Research Scientist and Research Group Leader of the CSIR Electrochemical Energy Technologies (2009 - 2017); and Wits University in 2017 as full Professor at the School of Chemistry. 

During the 8 years at the CSIR as the Chief Scientist, Prof Ozoemena successfully led a multi-disciplinary electrochemical research programme on advanced energy storage and conversion technologies (notably, lithium-ion batteries, super-capacitors and fuel cells). The work on lithium-ion batteries was based on the foundation laid by the previous works carried out at the CSIR in the early 1980s. When CSIR recruited Prof Ozoemena in 2009, his key job description was to revive this research which was terminated in the early 1990s by the then new South African government. Together with his team, he registered five patents (PCT) applications, including a fully granted USA patent. This new battery material is currently being developed (multi-million Rand pilot-scale production), co-funded by the South African Technology Innovation Agency (TIA) and the CSIR. Lithium-ion batteries are used for the development of electric cars, home electricity storage, and to power consumer electronics such as laptops and cell phones.

Prof Ozoemena has published about 180 peer-reviewed articles, given over 120 invited lectures world-wide, published three edited books, ten book chapters, and registered five patents (PCT) applications, including a fully granted USA patent. He has successfully trained over 30 PhD/MSc students who have gone on to become leaders in their chosen career, academia and industry. 

Prof Ozoemena has received several awards and recognition, including the “2018 China–Australia–South Africa Innovation and Entrepreneurship Competition for Overseas High-level Talents” award by the Gold Yard International Exchange Service (South Africa), and the most productive author in the area of energy storage in South Africa in 30 years (1986 – 2016). 

He is a fellow of the African Academy of Sciences (AAS), fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry (FRSC) and a Member of the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf), and a member of the Selection Committee (judges) of the prestigious King Faisal International Prize for Science. He holds an extra-ordinary Professorship at the University of Pretoria. He serves on the editorial boards of several leading science journals, including the Electrochemistry Communications (Elsevier), Current Opinion in Electrochemistry (Elsevier), and Scientific Reports (Nature Publishing). Prof Ozoemena is married to Advocate (Dr) Rita Ozoemena with two children.

Selected Academic Honors and Awards / Recognition

1. NRF top-rated Scientist (B1 category) (2017–2021). National Research Foundation (NRF), B1 means “that the researcher enjoys considerable international recognition for the high quality and impact of his recent research outputs.

2. CSIR Chief Research Scientist: The title of 'Chief' is the ultimate career level at the CSIR.

3. Elected Certified Renewable Energy Professional (CREP) of the Association of Energy Engineers (USA)

4. Elected Member of Academy of Science of South Africa (MASSAf) 2016

5. Elected Fellow of the African Academy of Sciences (FAAS) 2015

6. Elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry (FRSC, UK) 2011

7. Chartered Chemist (CChem) of the Royal Society of Chemistry (UK) 2008

8. Chartered Scientist (CSci) qualification of the Science Council (UK) 2008

9. Finalist, 2018/2019 National Science and Technology Forum (NSTF)-South 32 Awards: (i) Lifetime Award (by an individual over 15 years) and (ii) Special Annual Theme Award: Materials for inclusive economic development (in recognition of the United Nations 'International Year of the Periodic Table of Chemical Elements').

10. CSIR MSM (Materials Science and Manufacturing) Excellence Award – Innovation Award (2016): The award is in recognition for introducing innovative microwave-assisted production of electrode materials that promises a breakthrough in industry, society or in the conduct of CSIR business.

11. CSIR MSM (Materials Science and Manufacturing) Excellence Award – Human Capital Development Award (2016): This award recognizes individuals or a group who demonstrate an extraordinary contribution to the CSIR objectives. 

12. CSIR Excellence Award – The CEO's Award (2014): The CSIR CEO's Award is the most prestigious award of the CSIR. It recognises distinct and extraordinary accomplishments of either an individual or a team, with identifiable scientific or technological innovation or impact in support of the CSIR mandate”.

13. Listed among the World's top 1% of Scientists within Chemistry (please see the latest update, 7th February 2014, of the Thomson Reuters' ISI Essential Science Indicators SM covering a 10-year plus 10-month period, January 1, 2003-October 31, 2013). “

14. In the 30-year period (1986 to 2016), listed as “the most active author in the area of energy storage in South Africa” (see 'The State of Research, Development and Innovation in Electrical Energy Efficiency in South Africa', September 2017, published by the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf), Commissioned by the South African Department of Science and Technology (DST).

15. In the 10-year period (2000 to 20111), listed #2 among the “Twenty most productive South African authors of energy papers (2000–2011)” (see 'State of Energy Research in South Africa', August 2014, published by the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf)

16. Listed as an “Internationally-Acclaimed Researcher” by the South African-German Energy Partnership (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH) Published in South Africa - March 2017