Research and Innovation

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Directorate of Research and Innovation (DRI)

The Directorate of Research Development and Innovation (DRI) is the capacity-building hub for research, postgraduate studies and innovation at WSU. It is located in the Division of Academic Affairs and Research. 

It provides policy, strategic and operational support to the University in the core mandate area of research, postgraduate studies and innovation capacity development. Most of the Directorate’s activities are carried out in coordination with faculties and research entities. 

DRI is an important gateway for researchers, postgraduate students, innovators and WSU entrepreneurs seeking funding, administrative and logistical support for their studies or research and innovation projects.

The Directorate is headed by a Senior Director: Research and Innovation, who reports to the Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Academic Affairs and Research. 

It administers the University’s research and innovation capacity development budget, and interacts with national and international research funding, standards-setting, regulatory, and policy institutions to grow the University’s research and innovation footprint in a sustainable and impactful way. 

Among these institutions are the National Research Foundation (NRF), Department Higher Education and Training (DHET), Medical Research Council (MRC), National Intellectual Property Management Office (NIPMO) and Water Research Commission (WRC). 

The Directorate is a member of the Southern Africa Research and Innovation Management Association (SARIMA), and works closely with the Technological Higher Education Network (THENSA) – formerly the South African Technology Network (SATN) - of which the University is a member.

DRI’s programme philosophy foregrounds research and innovation excellence, relevance and impact. Currently, the Directorate drives initiatives aimed at repositioning the University as an innovation-focused, research-active institution whose work shapes futures and changes lives, as the University’s motto says - from the remotest rural Eastern Cape villages to far-flung global commercial and industrial centres. 

Currently, new streams of funding are being sourced and availed to boost support for Applied Research Niche Area (RNA) development, empower emerging academics to become published scholars, orient Master’s and Doctoral students to social justice leadership as well as entrepreneurial values, and create postgraduate pipeline development initiative through which larger numbers of honours students enrol for Master’s programmes and Master’s candidates become doctoral degree candidates.

The Directorate currently comprises a Research Office Central, a Technology Transfer Office, and a Postgraduate Studies Unit. It has a presence in each of the University’s four campuses while the Institutional Office is situated at the Mthatha Campus.

What We Do

DRI is strategically positioned to support research development-related activities undertaken by academics, researchers, postgraduate students and Postdoctoral Research Fellows across the four campuses of WSU.

It offers an array of services to the community it serves. It is responsible for the administration of research grants, research outputs, conference attendance, research ethics, and Postdoctoral Research Fellowship portfolios, to mention only a few.

Capacity-building and training of WSU academics and postgraduate students across all four campuses is also part of the core business of the Directorate.

DRI administers the University's research and innovation capacity development budget and interacts with national and international research funding institutions.

The Team


Professor Rushiella Nolundi Songca
Professor Rushiella Nolundi SongcaDeputy Vice-Chancellor: Academic Affairs &
LLD (Pretoria) LLM (Georgetown), LLM & LLB (UKZN), BA Law (Lesotho);<Br> Email: ; +27 66 342 7417<Br> ORCID:<Br><Br> Professor Rushiella Nolundi Songca (WSU) is a founding member and member of the Editorial Board of the International Journal of African Renaissance Studies (Multi-, Inter- and Transdisciplinarity), and an admitted Advocate of the High Court of South Africa. She has taught at various universities such as the former University of Durban-Westville, University of Natal, University of Transkei, University of Limpopo and University of South Africa.  She has been involved in different projects in different capacities, served on various committees and bodies, and also served (briefly) in the Presidency during the Thabo Mbeki administration. Professor Songca was a Guest Editor for the Agenda: Empowering Women for Gender Equity - Land, Violence and Women’s Bodies: A luta continua, vitoria e certa? 2018 32(4) issue - and also served as a reviewer for the NRF. Professor Songca’s understanding of the South African legal system is notable. She has made submissions to South African Law Commission, and written technical reports for, among others, the Parliament of South Africa, the Public Protector, the Human Rights Commission, and the House of Traditional Leaders. Her area of research is children’s rights. She is a NRF C-rated researcher.

Professor Wilson Akpan
Professor Wilson AkpanSenior Director: Research &
PhD (Rhodes), MSc (Ibadan), BSc (Hons) (Calabar) +27 47 502 2044; Skype: wakpan ORCID: Professor Wilson Akpan, a Ford Foundation Scholar and social justice advocate, is the Head of the Directorate of Research Development and Innovation. He is a well-published and globally cited research social scientist, public commentator and former two-term President of the South African Sociological Association (SASA). He has previously served as Acting Dean of Research, Deputy Dean for Research and Internationalisation (Social Sciences and Humanities), and Director of School of Social Sciences at Fort Hare University where he won the Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Research (Senior Category). A member of the South African National Research Output Review Panel, Akpan has an abiding interest in researching and publishing on social-ecological systems and sustainability, health and wellness, and knowledge futures. He is keenly interested in how different knowledge systems interface in the articulation and shaping of responses to society's challenges, including challenges of managing research and innovation in the higher education sphere. He has (guest-)edited and contributed to books and journal special issues on the themes of environment, natural resources, indigenous knowledge, community engagement, population dynamics, international higher education, and popular culture.
Dr Clarah Dapira
Dr Clarah DapiraManager: Research & Postgraduate Support (Mthatha Campus)
PhD (UFH), MSoc (UFH), BSoc (Hons) (UFH), BA (UFH) +27 47 502 1950; Skype: dapiraclarah
Dr C Dapira works as a Manager for Research and Postgraduate Support at Walter Sisulu University, Mthatha Campus. She is responsible for managing, coordinating and reporting on all activities pertaining to research administration and postgraduate support. Her oversight areas include research output, grants, staff and postgraduate research capacity-building, postdoctoral fellowships, research ethics, and research information management. Her portfolio also includes liaising with internal (University) stakeholders and external grant-making, standards-setting and research management organisations and networks.
Dr Tarisai Chikungwa-Everson
Dr Tarisai Chikungwa-EversonResearch & Postgraduate Support (Buffalo City)
PhD (IPS) (UFH), MCom (IPS) (UFH), BSoc Sci (HRM) (Hons) (UFH) BSoc Sci (HRM); +27 437089321; Skype: tchikungwa-everson
Dr T Chikungwa-Everson serves as the Manager: Research and Postgraduate Support at Walter Sisulu University (Buffalo City Campus). She is responsible for managing, coordinating and reporting on all activities pertaining to research and postgraduate support in the Directorate of Research Development and Innovation on the Buffalo City Campus. She also provides oversight, supervisory and coordination support in relation to specific activity areas in the Research Office Central service unit in the Directorate’s Institutional Office, and interacts with internal and external stakeholders on matters pertaining research standards-setting, funding, ethics and knowledge dissemination.
Dr Ncebakazi Galada
Dr Ncebakazi GaladaTechnology Transfer
PhD (UWC), MSc (UWC), BSc (Hons) (UWC), MBA (Stellenbosch) +27 47 502 2959; Skype: Ncebs G
Dr Galada works as the Technology Transfer Manager at Walter Sisulu University. Her portfolio involves, among other things, support for WSU researchers, innovators and entrepreneurs in the identification, development, protection and commercialisation of innovative products and intellectual property stemming from WSU research outputs. She also serves on the Steering Committee member for the Eastern Cape Regional Innovation Networking Platform.
Ms Vuyokazi Nibe
Ms Vuyokazi NibeIntellectual Property
MSc (WSU); +27 47 502 1948
Ms Vuyokazi Nibe has worked as a Technician for the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries & Forestry (aquaculture projects) and as a Laboratory Assistant at Walter Sisulu University. She is one of the first staff members to join the OTT after its establishment. Currently, Ms Nibe serves as the Intellectual Property Administrator and provides administrative support for the operations of the OTT and its stakeholders.
Mrs Nomafu Sigodi
Mrs Nomafu SigodiSenior Administrator: Grants and Research
PGD, HRM (Unisa), ND, HRM (NMMU), Cert in Project Management (Damelin), +27 47 502 2647
Ms Nomafu Sigodi is responsible for administrative support to the Directorate. Her areas of administrative responsibility include research output, grants, research-associated study activities, research events organising and researcher training.
Mr Yonela Mzingeli
Mr Yonela MzingeliResearch Finance
B Com Accounting (WSU); +27 47 502 2043
Mr Mzingeli works as a Research Finance Officer within the Directorate. His portfolio involves assisting researchers and postgraduate students with the administration of the financial support for internal and external research grants such as University Capacity Development Grant, TIA Seed Fund and Council-approved grants. He also provides financial administration support for the Directorate and serves as a link between the Directorate, Finance Department of the University and grant beneficiaries.
Mr Lusanda Gwebelele
Mr Lusanda GwebelelePostgraduate Administrative
BTech Public Management (WSU), ND Commercial Practice (WSU),
+27 47 502 1947/2189, Skype: Gwebs-Zikhali
Mr L Gwebelele has previously acted as Higher Education Management Information System (HEMIS) Officer in Institutional Research & Planning Directorate, WSU. Currently, he serves as a Postgraduate Administrative Assistant, responsible for key administrative services that support postgraduate students and supervisors. These include quality assurance, postgraduate students funding, supervisor-development programmes and supervision support. Mr Gwebelele’s portfolio also includes interfacing with prospective postgraduate students.
Mr Zukisa Pato
Mr Zukisa PatoTemporary Senior
ND, Office Mgt Tech (WSU), Certificate, Business Management (Esayidi College); +27 47 502 2044 Mr Zukisa Pato holds a National Diploma in Office Management and Technology from Walter Sisulu University and Certificate in Business Management from Esayidi College. He has worked as an Assistant Administrator at the Department of Education. As the Temporary Senior Secretary, Mr Pato provides administration support to the Directorate and the entire research community at WSU.