The Yazi Board

From Left:  Mr Robert Inglis, Prof Albert Modi, Prof Himla Soodyall, Prof Doug Wassenaar

Professor Douglas Wassenaar MA (Clin. Psych.) PhD – Chairperson

WassenaarProfessor Wassenaar is Director of the South Africa Research Ethics Training Initiative (SARETI), a professor at the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s School of Human Science (Psychology) and registered Clinical Psychologist. He is a Deputy Chair of the UKZN Biomedical Research Ethics Committee (BREC) and chair of the HSRC Research Ethics Committee. His research interests are primarily in aspects of research ethics with human participants, but include clinical issues in Suicidology and Eating Disorders. He serves on the World Health Organization’s Vaccines Advisory Committee and is on the steering committee of the Global Forum for Bioethics in Research.

Professor Himla Soodyall (PhD) – Director

SoodyallProfessor Soodyall is a medical scientist at the National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS) and Associate Professor in the Division of Human Genetics (University of the Witwatersrand). She served as the Principal Investigator on the Sub-Saharan Africa Genographic Project and serves on the steering committee of the Southern African Human Genome Programme (SAHGP).

After completing post-doctoral research at Penn State University (USA) she returned to South Africa and set up her own research laboratory in Human Genetics. Her primary research goal is to “map and model genetic diversity in sub-Saharan African populations to reconstruct history of African populations as well as to understand the mechanism of population susceptibility to disease”. She is General Secretary of the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf) and Chairperson of the newly founded Research Development Committee (NHLS).

She is a recipient of the Order of Mapungubwe for her contribution to science.

Professor Albert Modi (PhD) – Director

ModiProfessor Modi is the Dean and Head of the School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences and Chairman of the South African Agricultural and Life Sciences Deans Association (SAALSDA). He is the recipient of the GreenMatter Senior Fellow award for his “innovation and leadership in promoting sustainable agriculture, through both academic excellence and practical mentorship”.

He focuses on traditional and indigenous crops and he is renowned for his work with the Ezemvelo Farmer’s Association in producing and supplying indigenous crops to Woolworths. Dr Modi was elected as the first black president of the South African Society of Crop Production (SASCP) and was instrumental in the establishment of the South African Young Academy of Science (SAYAS).


Mr Robert James Inglis (BSc. Eng) – Director and Public Officer

InglisRobert Inglis is the Director of Jive Media Africa, an independent science communication agency. He trained and worked as a mechanical engineer prior to a 15-month over-wintering with the South Africa National Antarctic Expedition. He has worked with numerous science organisations, institutes of higher education and research centres developing science engagement in South Africa. Robert was the recipient of National Science and Technology Forum (NSTF) Award for his contribution to the discipline of science communication.

Robert has more than 15 years of experience in the science and technology sector combining innovative approaches to communication with accuracy of scientific content. He is fascinated by the space between science and society and about making voices heard on both sides of the gap. He is the initiator in South Africa of the international FameLab, talking science initiative and is a co-founder of Science Spaza and the Hip Hop U Adolescent Health Engagement programme.