Morris has demonstrable experience in research management and leadership and will drive the research agenda as the University approaches its centenary in 2022. Her appointment acknowledges her extensive research leadership and management experience, as well as her impressive research record and globally recognized scholarship. With her collaborative leadership style and ability to create an enabling research environment, Morris is ideally positioned to strengthen the University’s research position on the continent.
A legacy of research leadership
Morris has served in leadership roles on various national and international bodies including the International Scientific Advisory Committee of the Institute of Infectious Disease and Molecular Medicine at the University of Cape Town, the Poliomyelitis Research Foundation, and the Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise based in New York.
Morris joins Wits in the role of Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research and Innovation from the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), where she recently completed a three-year term as the interim Executive Director. Here she led the NICD through two major health crises, namely the listeria outbreak of 2017/8 and the current Covid-19 pandemic.
A Wits alumna, Morris held joint appointments as a Research Professor in the School of Pathology, Faculty of Health Sciences at Wits, Head of the HIV Virology Lab in the Centre for HIV & STIs at the National Health Laboratory Service, and the NICD. She is also an Honorary Senior Scientist at CAPRISA (Centre for the Aids Programme of Research in South Africa)
A lifetime of HIV research excellence
A National Research Foundation A-rated scientist, Morris is one of a handful of the most highly cited scientists in the world. She is internationally recognized for her work in understanding the antibody response to HIV and is responsible for conducting validated end-point assays for HIV vaccine clinical trials.
Globally critically acclaimed, Morris won the Wits Vice-Chancellor’s Research Award in 2014, the South African Medical Research Council’s Gold Medal in 2015, the prestigious Harry Oppenheimer Fellowship Award (arguably equivalent to the Nobel Prize) in 2017, and the World Academy of Sciences Prize in Medical Sciences in 2018.