Jan van der Merwe 1994


Jan Hendrik van der Merwe was born at Humpatha, Angola, on 28 February 1922, his parents having taken part in the Dorsland Trek.

In 1943 he obtained the B.Sc. degree and in 1945 the M.Sc. in Ap­plied Mathematics (both cum laude) at the University of Stellen­bosch. In 1950 he was awarded a Ph.D. in Theoretical Solid State. Physics at the University of Bristol, England, and in 1956 he ob­tained an M.Sc. in Mathematics (cum laude) at the University of Pretoria.

His academic career began in 1946 with his appointment as Lec­turer in Applied Mathematics at the University of Stellenbosch. From 1947 to 1952 he was employed as Research Officer and Senior Research Officer at the CSIR, but in 1953 he returned to the academic sphere, joining the University of Pretoria as a Senior Lecturer and subsequently Associate Professor of Physics. In 1965 he took up a position at the newly established University of Port Elizabeth as Head of the Department of Applied Mathematics and also as Acting Head of the Department of Physics. From 1968 he served for four years as Professor of Ap­plied Mathematics at the University of South Africa and then until his retirement in 1989 as Head of the Department of Physics at the University of Pretoria. Since 1990 he has been an Extra­ordinary Professor at the University of South Africa.

Professor Van der Merwe has on five occasions been a visiting professor at universities in the United States of America and Ger­many. He has served as a member of various select, advisory and organising committees. In the academic sphere he has been in­vited to speak at 25 national and international congresses. He is author and co-author of over 85 publications and has also made contributions in the form of chapters in various scientific text­books. He has received numerous awards such as the Havenga Prize for Physics of the S.A. Akademie vir Wetenskap en Kuns, the E.W. Muller Award of the University of Wisconsin, the South African Institute of Physics' De Beers Gold Medal, as well as an honorary doctorate from the University of South Africa in 1985 and one from the University of Pretoria in 1990. The Order of Meritorious Service (Gold Class) was presented to him by the State President in 1989.

Professor Van der Merwe's original publication (together with F.C. Frank) on the mismatch between the crystal lattices of two materials grown from the vapour phase onto each other, is inter­nationally accepted as basis in the field of epitaxial systems. The application of this theory made a tremendous contribution to the subsequent development of multi-layer systems, as now used every day in semi-conductor technology, a field in which the Uni­versity of Port Elizabeth is greatly interested since the Depart­ment of Physics here is one of the leading departments in this field in South Africa.

In view of his earlier association with UPE and his international stature and contribution as a scientist, especially in semi-con­ductor technology, it is an honour for the Senate and Council of the University of Port Elizabeth to confer upon JAN HENDRIK VAN DER MERWE the degree of Doctor Scientiae, honoris causa.