South African heroes of science are varied and include renowned surgeons and physicists, geneticists and mathematicians and even an IT genius-turned-astronaut. The country has also produced an endless list of inventors whose innovative products have made it onto the international stage.

Did you know?

South African science hero Mark Shuttleworth trained for seven months in Russia for his spaceflight.

South African heroes of science have made some of the world's greatest contributions to the scientific fraternity, breaking down barriers, setting historic milestones and paving the way for future scientists to follow.

South Africa's science heroes are drawn from a broad range of disciplines, including medicine, genetics, physics and mathematics. Outside of these acclaimed academics, South African icons of science also include people with great vision, who dared to dream and went on to record extraordinary achievements.

One of the most famous South African heroes of science was Dr Christiaan Barnard. A renowned surgeon, Barnard performed the country's first kidney transplant and the world's first successful human heart transplant at the Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town in 1967.

Professor Himla Soodyall is regarded for her groundbreaking research in genetics. Her studies have opened new doors of understanding into the early history of humans.

Sydney Brenner, Aaron Klug, Max Theiler and Alan MacLeod Cormack were all born or raised in South Africa. All four won Nobel Prizes – Brenner for his molecular research and discovery of programmed cell death; Klug for his macromoleculer research; Theiler for his yellow fever research and vaccine development; and Cormack for his CAT research which led to the development of the CAT scanner.

Brilliant mathematician, Joseph Albert Mokoena, was another local genius, highly regarded for its efforts to promote maths in Africa.

South Africa's science heroes also include Mark Shuttleworth, an IT entrepreneur who made history by becoming the first African in space and only the second private citizen to self-fund his journey into orbit. Shuttleworth inspired the nation and now promotes science, maths and technology among South African learners.

The country has also seen its fair share of inventors. George Pratley, the inventor of Prately Putty, used on a mission to the moon in 1969; Eric Merrifield and Aubrey Krüger, who invented the dolos, a concrete block piled with others to create breakwaters; Henri Johnson, the sports tracking technology developer; and Ken Hall, who designed the indoor Cobb barbecue, are among South Africa's greatest creators.