South AfricaYear elected
Nigel C Bennett is a full Professor in the Department of Zoology and Entomology and also holds Austin Roberts Chair of African Mammalogy at the Mammal Research Institute, both in the faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences.
Bennett’s research focus is ecology, animal physiology and behaviour using the African mole-rat as his model animal. He and his co-workers have investigated the ecological and physiological factors that affect the control of reproduction and the evolution of sociality. Unlike other researchers investigating cooperative breeding in mammals, he has done so from a variety of perspectives. The strength of this multi-faceted approach is that it has led to an integrated understanding of reproductive suppression in mole-rats of a type that has not been achieved for any other taxa. His research has set the benchmark for our understanding of phylogenetic and ecological constraints regulating reproductive success and social evolution in mammalian species. His research record ranks him among the best researchers studying social regulation of reproduction in any group of mammals in the world.
He has been a visiting Professor at the School of Chemical and Biological Sciences, Queen Mary College, University of London since 2005 and more recently a visiting Professor at the Department of Zoology, King Saud University, Saudi Arabia. He has been awarded the UP Chancellor's Medal for his research in the past on three occasions as well as receiving the Exceptional Academic Achiever Award for the past fourteen years. He is a fellow of the Zoological Society of London, a fellow of the Royal Society of South Africa, a member of the Academy of Sciences of South Africa as well as a Fellow of the African Academy of Sciences. He has been the recipient of the Gold medal from the Zoological Society of Southern Africa and the Havenga Prize for outstanding contributions to Life Sciences awarded by the Academy of Science and Arts of South Africa. The University of Pretoria awarded him the University of Pretoria Commemorative Research Medal for being one of the top 100 scientists in a century of its existence. He held the DST-NRF Chair of Mammal Behavioural Ecology and Physiology from 2007 until 2022.
In 2021 he was made an honorary member of the American Society of Mammalogists (less than one hundred illuminaries have been awarded this title in a century). In 2022 Bennett was awarded the prestigious JFW Herschel Medal from the Royal Society of South Africa.
He has served as President of the Zoological Community of Southern Africa for two years. Bennett was editor-in-chief of the Journal of Zoology, London for 15 years and a past editor of Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Biological Sciences B. In 2013 he took on the handling editor position at Biology Letters another Royal Society journal. Bennett has published 476 papers in international peer-reviewed scientific journals, co-authored a specialist book published by Cambridge University Press and has penned fifteen chapters in books. Bennett is the world leader on African mole-rat biology and in particular reproductive physiology.