Prof Ruth Stewart is Director of the University of Johannesburg’s Africa Centre for Evidence and chairperson of the Africa Evidence Network. She recently led the University of Johannesburg’s programme to Build Capacity to Use Research Evidence (UJ-BCURE). Having grown up in Malawi, she studied in the UK and has worked in South Africa since 1998, as well as with University College London’s EPPI-Centre. Her work includes the production of evidence for decision-makers, as well as supporting civil servants to access and make sense of research. She has a background in social sciences, and has worked across academia and government with a commitment to engage with stakeholders in her research. She has worked for nearly twenty years on the production of synthesized evidence to inform decision-making, including systematic reviews, rapid evidence assessments and evidence maps. She is committed to making a difference through her work by ensuring that research evidence is useful and used.
As well as conducting systematic reviews for Cochrane, the Campbell Collaboration, the EPPI-Centre, and the Collaboration for Environmental Evidence, Ruth has worked with colleagues at McMaster University, the International Initiative for Impact Evaluation, the International Fund for Agricultural Development and many more. As Chairperson for the Africa Evidence Network, she leads a growing community of practice of over 1000 people across 20 African countries committed to increasing the usefulness and use of evidence for decision-making to reduce poverty and inequality in the region.
SPECIALIST IN EVIDENCE-INFORMED DECISION-MAKING
Yvonne Erasmus (PhD, Univ of London) is a specialist in evidence-informed decision-making and evidence synthesis at the University of Johannesburg’s Africa Centre for Evidence (ACE). She is currently a lead investigator on two ACE-led evidence syntheses: (1) a NERC-funded demand-led evidence synthesis project on ecosystem services for poverty alleviation; and (2) a DFID-funded systematic review on what works to improve female labour market participation in LMICs. She recently worked as Deputy Director and Country Manager (Malawi) on the University of Johannesburg’s programme aimed at Building Capacity to Use Research Evidence (UJ-BCURE).
She is an experienced researcher, and project and team leader, with 15 years of experience doing work for universities, commercial companies, international donors and government. Her academic background is in political sciences and development studies and she is particularly interested in inter-disciplinary work and how research can be used to bring about social change.
EVIDENCE SYNTHESIS SPECIALIST
Laurenz is an Evidence Synthesis Specialist at the University of Johannesburg’s Africa Centre for Evidence (ACE) and a member of the EPPI-Centre research team at the UCL Institute of Education. Laurenz leads ACE’s work in supporting national government decision-makers in South Africa to integrate evidence from research (e.g. through evidence maps, systematic reviews, meta-analyses) in the formulation and design of public policies and programmes. He currently is a lead investigator on three ACE-led evidence syntheses: (1) a DFID-funded systematic review on what works to improve female labour market participation in LMICs; (2) a NERC-funded demand-led evidence synthesis project on ecosystem services for poverty alleviation; and (3) a DPME-led evidence map on research on the concept of the developmental state.
Laurenz has conducted a range of systematic reviews and evidence maps, including reviews published by the Campbell Collaboration and the Collaboration for Environmental Evidence. He recently authored the NESTA and What Works-funded Science of Using Science Report. He was part of DPME’s efforts to pilot policy-relevant evidence maps as a method to inform decision-making in the public sector. His research interests include evidence synthesis, decision-making in the public sector, and social network analysis to support policy implementation.
CARINA VAN ROOYEN
Dr Carina van Rooyen is currently a researcher in the Africa Center for Evidence, and a senior lecturer in the Department of Anthropology and Development Studies at the University of Johannesburg. In ACE Dr Carina van Rooyen is involved in three areas of work:
(1) With Prof Ruth Stewart Dr Carina van Rooyen co-direct the Johannesburg branch of the Centre for Environment Evidence (CEE). Our overarching focus is encouraging – through mentoring, training, seminars, workshops / conferences – evidence-informed practices in environmental matters. I also serve as editorial board member of Environmental Evidence, the journal of the CEE.
(2) Dr Carina van Rooyen is working with Sunet Jordaan on the training and mentorship offerings of ACE. We are shifting from an ad hoc approach to consolidated regular short course offerings – both face-to-face and online.
(3) Dr Carina van Rooyen is a member of the teams working on two evidence synthesis projects, one of ecosystem services and multi-dimensional poverty in Africa, and the other on women’s participation in the labour market in higher growth/male-dominated sectors.
To find out more about this and other work Dr Carina van Rooyen does, have a look at her professional profile at https://carinavr.wordpress.com/. Or follow her on Twitter (@carinavr) for tweets on the nature of evidence for whom and for what, on learning and teaching with technology, and on climate change and water.
Charity Chisoro is a researcher at Africa Centre for Evidence. She strongly believes that evidence use is crucial in decision-making processes as it aids in the implementation of relevant policies. Charity grew up in Zimbabwe where she first worked as a temporary teacher and banker before coming to South Africa to further her studies. She graduated with distinction (cum laude) for both her BA degree in Development Studies as well as her BA Honours in Development Studies from the University of Johannesburg. She is currently busy with her MA in Social Impact Assessment. Charity has two years’ experience in tutoring first year students in the Sociology Department and was a student assistant for one year at the Department of Anthropology and Development Studies. Charity enjoys travelling as well as tutoring which she finds fulfilling. She is interested in getting to know people and making a positive impact in society. Charity’s passion is to become a social scientist, researcher, marriage counsellor, or anything related to understanding people’s behaviour especially at an individual level.
Christa Heyneke holds the position of Centre Administrator for the Africa Centre for Evidence. She’s responsible for the administrative tasks of the unit, including managing event bookings, group telephone conferences, travel and team building. Christa’s passionate about painting and spends a lot of her spare time creating beautiful oil paintings.
Desyree is an experienced project manager having worked in the NGO sector for more than a decade. Her experience spans East and Southern Africa as well as having worked for NGOs and donor funders in Europe. Her academic background is in business studies and human rights studies, having completed a MBA and MA Human Rights. Desyree is particularly interested in interdisciplinary work/studies related to the relationship between human and environmental rights; and how this relationship influences changes within society.
Mary Opondo is a researcher at the Africa Centre for Evidence. A philanthropist at heart, her interests are in education, capacity building, mentorship and entrepreneurship. Mary has also worked in various developmental institutions assisting in mentorship, project coordination, budget preparations, research and elections monitoring. Her passion and dedication to community development has seen her receiving a number of awards including: 2011 Mandela Rhodes Scholarship, Golden Key Chapter Award for leadership, and inclusion in the Deans’ List of excellence. In her free time, she enjoys reading novels, cooking, travelling, and motivating others. Mary is currently pursuing her Masters in Development Studies at the University of Johannesburg. Her personal slogan is to always keep the fire within burning.
RESEARCHER & REVIEW TEAM LEAD
Natalie has a Masters degree in Environmental Anthropology, with an undergraduate background in Journalism from the University of Johannesburg. She has worked in evidence synthesis on different development reviews since 2012. Her interests lie specifically in environmental issues and how these relate to various aspects of society. At ACE Natalie works across the various ongoing systematic reviews and evidence synthesis projects supporting her team of budding researchers.
Precious Motha is currently a communication officer at the Africa Center for Evidence (ACE), and a coordinator for the Africa Evidence Network (AEN) at the University of Johannesburg. She has over 7 years’ experience in communications having worked in various organisations including the Human Sciences Research Council and the Constitutional Court of South Africa. She holds a BA in Psychology and a BA Hons in Industrial Sociology, both from the University of Johannesburg, as well as a Post Graduate Diploma in Management from Wits Business School. Additionally, she has a certificate in Digital Marketing from the University of Cape Town and Science Communications from the University of Stellenbosch. Her skills include digital communication, website content management, marketing, public relations, event management, research and social media. Precious believes communication is the backbone of our human life. It allows us to form connections, influence decisions, and motivate change.
Promise Nduku is a Researcher at the Africa Centre for Evidence. He holds a Bachelor of Economic Science degree from Monash University, Bachelor of Commerce Honours Degree from the University of Johannesburg, and is currently completing a Master of Commerce in Development Economics degree at the same institution. His skills include econometric modelling and statistical analysis.An ardent supporter of embracing sustainable development, inclusive growth in particular, as an effective tool for poverty and inequality reduction. He is passionate about education and development, and has been heavily involved in academics as a tutor at both his institutions of study. His work includes data extraction, social network and meta-analysis.
Sunet Jordaan has Masters degree in development studies and is a monitoring and evaluation specialist. She’s currently responsible for establishing the ACE Training Academy. She recently worked as the Mentorship on the University of Johannesburg’s programme aimed at Building Capacity to Use Research Evidence (UJ-BCURE). She is an experienced evaluator, researcher, and project manager, with 15 years of experience doing work for universities, non-governmental organisations, commercial companies, international donors and government.
Zafeer Shaukat Ally Ravat is currently pursuing a Masters of Commerce degree in Development Economics at the University of Johannesburg. With a strong passion directed at development, he is keen on improving his understanding of evidence synthesis and the implication of such a method in the development sphere. He has a particular interest in poverty related issues and the role that research can play in addressing these issues.