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Rare honour for SAEON scientist

SAEON's Chief Research Scientist, Prof. William Bond, has been elected a foreign associate of the United States' National Academy of Sciences, an honour conferred on the world's best scientists by their peers.

The National Academy of Sciences is an independent, non-profit society, established by an Act of the United States Congress in 1863. It is regarded as one of the top academies in the world. Its task is to provide independent, objective advice to the US government on matters related to science, engineering and medicine.

Nearly 500 of its 2 214 members and 444 foreign associates have won Nobel Prizes. Foreign associates are non-voting members. Only 21 foreign associates are elected annually, based on an extensive vetting process that results in a final ballot at the academy's annual meeting in April every year.


William on stage during the signing ceremony of the United States' National Academy of Sciences, of which he has been elected a foreign associate


Highly cited researcher

In addition, William has just been notified that he has been selected as a Thomson Reuters Highly Cited Researcher, one of only six South African scientists to receive this accolade. As a member of the Highly Cited Researcher list, he is also included in the 2014 The World's Most Influential Scientific Minds.

Top-rated scientist

William Bond is one of South Africa's top scientists. He is an ecologist with broad interests in the processes most strongly influencing vegetation change in the past and present, including fire, vertebrate herbivory, atmospheric CO2 and climate change. In addition, he has worked on plant-animal mutualisms and on plant form and function. Particular research interests include grasslands and savanna ecosystems, and winter-rainfall shrublands.

William has served on the Boards of the South African National Botanical Institute and Cape Nature, and on the editorial boards of several journals. Among his achievements are authoring and co-authoring nearly 200 papers (realising an h-factor of 58) and three books.

Describing these latest achievements, William said he was "very pleasantly surprised. It is easy to think you are on the fringes on things in Africa. Recognition by the National Academy of Sciences is an extraordinary affirmation of the relevance of ecological studies in Africa to the wider world of science."

The CEO of the National Research Foundation, Dr Albert van Jaarsveld, joined SAEON and the South African research community in congratulating William: "It is a tremendous honour for any South African scientist to be elected a foreign associate of the US National Academy of Sciences," he said.

"I would like to congratulate Professor Bond on this extraordinary and well-deserved achievement. William has been an inspiration to many young ecologists, especially here at home for many years. It is therefore particularly gratifying to see his contributions also being recognised by our international peers.

"As an NRF A-rated scientist, William recently joined the South African Environmental Observation Network (SAEON) as its Chief Scientist. We expect that his inspirational career and leadership will enthuse young scientist working on the SAEON platform to emulate his achievements over the coming years."


William is passionate about passing his knowledge on to the next generation of scientists


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