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Transport and freight logistics researcher wins the 2015 JD Roberts Award

27 July 2015

Johannesburg, 23 July 2015 - The 2015 JD Roberts Award for Emerging Researchers was presented to Dr Jacomine Grobler at a ceremony hosted by Murray & Roberts in Bedfordview. 

The runner-up finalists were Julius Komba and Vhahangwele Masindi.

Dr Grobler leads the Transport and Freight Logistics Research Group at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and was nominated for her contribution to the development of mathematical models and optimisation algorithms for solving industrial engineering problems.

Dr Grobler’s accomplishments include the development of a multi-objective algorithm for a complex real-world production scheduling problem. The algorithms she developed were shown to outperform existing state-of-the-art algorithms by up to 76%, resulting in a significant decrease in manufacturing and algorithm development costs.

Julius Komba’s research focuses on road design, advanced evaluation of road construction materials and monitoring the long-term performance of roads. He is also involved in the implementation of High Modulus Asphalt in South Africa and has participated in the evaluation of innovative road products including Ultra-Thin Frictional Course bituminous road surfacing.

Vhahangwele Masindi has developed acid mine drainage treatment technology with a patent filed in the United States, Canada and Argentina. His areas of research include waste water chemistry and treatment, acidic mine waste remediation and mine tailings rehabilitation. He has worked in infection control, wastewater treatment and the production of composites for clearing contaminated water environments.

CSIR Executive Director Dr Cornelius Ruiters congratulated Dr Grobler and the two finalists. “The Murray & Roberts family and the CSIR congratulate Dr Grobler for her sterling research work in this complex field, as well as Komba and Masindi for their contributions in the road design and water environments, respectively,” he said.

“The research presented was world-class and demonstrates the depth of research talent we have in South Africa,” says Andrew Skudder, Sustainability Director at Murray & Roberts and member of the adjudication panel.

The annual JD Roberts Award, a partnership between Murray & Roberts and the CSIR, recognises the significant contribution made by researchers to improving global competitiveness of South African industry.

Instituted by Murray & Roberts in 1980 in remembrance of one of the group’s founding fathers, Dr JD ‘Douglas’ Roberts, the award recognises and encourages scientific research into technology that promotes environmentally-sustainable solutions to human living environment challenges.

The finalists’ research presentations are adjudicated based on the relevance and potential improvement to people’s quality of life; the innovation, uniqueness and distinction of the work; the potential uptake and practicality of the research in the relevant sector and the potential impact of the research.

Dr Ruiters added that the partnership between the two organisations illustrates the beneficial relationship achieved when industrial research meets the needs of engineering and construction services. “We are committed to our partnership,” he concluded.


About Murray & Roberts:


Murray & Roberts is a leading engineering and construction services company. It has predominantly delivered infrastructure throughout South and Southern Africa for more than 110 years, and is today recognised as an international engineering and construction group. Murray & Roberts is a group of world-class companies and brands aligned to the same purpose and vision, and guided by the same set of values.


The company offers civil, mechanical, electrical, mining engineering, general building, procurement, construction, commissioning, operations and maintenance services. Murray & Roberts does so in the global underground mining market, selected international oil & gas, power & water markets and African infrastructure sectors.


Murray & Roberts operates in Southern, Central and Western Africa, Middle East, Southeast Asia, Australasia and North and South America. The company is headquartered in Johannesburg, South Africa, where it has a public listing on the JSE Limited. It has principle offices in Australia, Botswana, Canada, Chile, Ghana, Mozambique, Namibia, United Arab Emirates, United States of America and Zambia.




Integrity – Respect – Care – Accountability – Commitment




Delivery of infrastructure in a sustainable way to facilitate economic and social development




By 2020 we aim to be a leading diversified project engineering, procurement and construction group in selected natural resources sectors and supporting infrastructure


More information is available at




About the CSIR:

The CSIR (Council for Scientific and Industrial Research) is one of the leading research and development, technology and innovation institutions in Africa, with a track record spanning 70 years. The CSIR strives for excellence in all its endeavours in order to improve the quality of life of South Africa's people and to increase the global competitiveness of South African industry.  The CSIR − our future through science

More information is available at  

For further Information:

Ed Jardim
Murray & Roberts Group Communications Executive
Tel: 011 456 1000

Tendani Tsedu
CSIR Media Relations Manager
Tel: 012 841 3417


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