Professor Marissa Rollnick says she is humbled by her lifetime achievement award.

EMERITUS Professor Marissa Rollnick is one of two recipients of the highest honour in science education.

Rollnick will receive the 2018 Distinguished Contribution to Science Education through Research Award by the National Association of Research and Science Training (NARST). The award will be presented at the Annual International Conference Awards Luncheon on March 12. According to NARST, the award recognises scholars in science education, who have made contributions, provided outstanding leadership, and had significant impact nationally and internationally, to improving the field through research, over a period of at least 20 years.

NARST Board Liaison to the Awards Committee, Lynn Dierking, told Wits Vuvuzela that, “I have known Professor Rollnick for a very long time, and I’m delighted that she is being recognised.”
Rollnick said she was greatly humbled and never expected to win the award. “It was a really big surprise because I never thought I would get that award. I go every year to this conference and I see other people and I think I’m not in that class.

“In my perspective, the only way I compete with people in the USA is because of the difference I am making in this region,” said Rollnick.

Since joining Wits, Rollnick has made a significant contribution, with over 34 years’ experience in science education. Throughout her career, she supervised 16 doctoral and 27 masters students, many of whom work in South African higher education institutions. She is currently supervising six doctoral students. Rollnick has published 72 peer-reviewed articles, book chapters and books.

The South African Numeracy Chair at Wits, Professor Hamsa Venkatakrishnan, was one of Rollnick’s colleagues who nominated her for the award. “I have worked with Professor Rollnick over a number of years in an organisation called SAARMSTE – the Southern African Association for Research in Mathematics, Science and Technology Education. She has contributed to the research schools since their inception.
Professor Rollnick has been central to developing this [science education] scholarship base in South Africa.

“Her own research into the pedagogical content knowledge needed for good quality science teaching represents a further pillar of her legacy, with international recognition and take up of this work,” said Venkatakrishnan.

Upon reflecting on her legacy and her career of over 30 years, Rollnick said, “When I came to Wits in 1980 I was the only one with a PhD and by the time I retired everybody had a PhD. I hope I had established a research culture in the science education department. I get great satisfaction when I see someone progressing.”

Science education Associate Professor Elizabeth Mavhunga, who was supervised by Rollnick for her PhD research told Wits Vuvuzela that being mentored by her was an honour.
“I’m quite grateful. She is able to guide the student’s development with a clear path. She kicks doors of opportunities for her students. For example, she’ll develop your career to become a lecturer and access funding.
“Today I am known and respected in my own right locally and globally. She’s the measure of what excellence would be. Very proud as she has put South Africa on the map. She has demonstrated selfless giving and poured herself into her students.”