The Johnny van der Walt Prize Competition
The Society awards a prize for the best poster by a pre-doctoral student in the Physiological Sciences at the Annual PSSA Conference. The Prize is named in memory of Professor Johnny van der Walt, who was the Head of the Department of Physiology in the Faculty of Veterinary Science at Onderstepoort, University of Pretoria, from 1990 until his untimely death on the 28th June 2004. Professor van der Walt was one of the Society’s great stalwarts, who will be remembered for excellent science, his sharp insights and enormous enthusiasm for physiology, as well as for his humour and infectious joie de vivre.
Rules of the Johnny van der Walt Competition
- The competition is open to young researchers in the Physiological Sciences who are registered as STUDENTS at any tertiary institution in Southern Africa.
- Entrants for the Competition may not be older than 30 years of age at the time of the competition, nor may they already be in possession of a PhD (or equivalent) degree.
- Tenured or full-time lecturers or researchers at a tertiary education institution are excluded from the competition. Bursary holders and students in temporary research assistant posts are, however, not excluded.
- The entrant must be the principal investigator of the project to be presented at the competition. This must be confirmed in writing by the Head of the Department that is sponsoring the student’s participation in the Johnny van der Walt Competition.
- Entrants need not be members of the PSSA. Entrants must, however, be bona fide students at a tertiary institution in Southern Africa. This must also be confirmed in writing by the Head of the Department that is sponsoring the student’s participation in the Johnny van der Walt Competition.
- Only one presentation per entrant per PSSA Conference is permitted for competition purposes.
- A student may enter the Johnny van der Walt competition at more than one conference of the PSSA (i.e. participation in the competition is not limited to one year per lifetime), BUT previous winners of the Johnny van der Walt competition are not allowed to participate in the competition for a second time.
- Each entrant presents a poster presentation, with question time.
- The presentations are judged by a panel of no fewer than 6 judges, who are members of the PSSA (but may include prominent scientists who have been invited to the PSSA conference as guest speakers). The judges are appointed by the Council of the PSSA. They are chosen for their current active involvement in research and the supervision of postgraduate students.
- Presentations are judged according to the following criteria:
- Construction of the presentation: how well is the story told? 1 Judge
- Background insight and motivation for the study 1 Judge
- Methods (originality/appropriateness and correctness) 1 Judge
- Suitability and clarity of analysis and display of results 1 Judge
- Discussion and response to questions 2 Judges
- Each judge evaluates the same aspect (and only that one aspect) of each of the presentations. The overall impression of a presentation is therefore generated by the results of all the judges’ evaluations: each judge listing his/her top 5 candidates in order of merit with the top candidate receiving a score of 1, the next a score of 2, and so on. Anyone not placed is given a score of 6. A candidate’s score is the sum of the scores awarded to that candidate by the six judges. The winner is the candidate with the lowest score.
- In this manner each judge’s opinion carries a weight equal to that of each of the others, and no single judge can monopolize the awarding system.
- The quality or contents of the abstract, which describes the candidate’s work, shall NOT be taken into account when selecting the winner of the Johnny van der Walt competition. The reason for this is that many of the candidates are Honours students who only start their projects in March, and have to submit their abstracts for the conference before the results of their experiments become available.
- In general only one winner is selected from the list of entrants. Only the winner’s name is made public.
- The prize consists of a certificate and a cash prize.
- Winners of the Johnny van der Walt competition will NOT be eligible for a sponsored trip to attend the next IUPS Congress.
- No person may enter both the Wyndham and the Johnny van der Walt Competitions during a particular year. However, anyone may give additional oral or poster presentations, for non-competition purposes, at any given conference of the PSSA.