High School Career:
In my matric year (1977) I was the first ever pupil from a school (namely Mariental High School) in the former South West Africa (currently Namibia) to be amongst the top 20 pupils (joint 10th position) in the final matric examination of the former Cape Province. Back then, learners from schools in the former South West Africa and from schools in the former Cape Province wrote the same matrix examination papers.
Study Career at the University of Stellenbosch:
I received a merit bursary from Stellenbosch University at the end of each of my undergraduate years, and CSIR-bursaries for Honours, Masters and Doctoral studies. (CSIR is the abbreviation for the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, which later became the Foundation for Research Development (FRD), and which today is by and large the NRF.)
I was awarded the Dr. J.G.P. van der Horst prize by Stellenbosch University in 1982 for the best M.Sc. student who obtained the M.Sc. degree cum laude in Mathematics, Physics or Chemistry based on his/her thesis. At the end of the same year I received the National Stipendium from Stellenbosch University for two years towards my doctoral studies.
I received FRD awards and awards by the National Science Council of Taiwan and the Ministry of Science of Israel for research visits of two months each to Taiwan (December 1988 – January 1989) and Israel (December 1992 – January 1993). I was also awarded an FRD stipendium for young researchers in each of 1990, 1991 and 1992, and I have received FRD and NRF grants every year since 1990.
As far as sabbatical periods are concerned, I received grants by the FRD and NRF for research visits to Texas A&M University during August 1989 – May 1990, August 1995 – May 1996 and August 2002 – May 2003, and Stellenbosch University awarded me an HB & MJ Thom Bursary for a sabbatical during February – November 2009. I also had sabbaticals during the second semesters of 2012 and 2015.
During 2006-2008 and 2010-2013 I was the South African principal investigator for the Hungarian / South African Intergovernmental S&T Cooperation Programme, which entailed co-operation between a group of algebraists in Hungary and a group of algebraists in South Africa, including mutual visits. This agreement was highly successful, as can be seen from my list of publications (joint publications with P.N. Anh, V. Drensky, S. Foldes, L. Marki, J.H. Meyer and J. Szigeti).
During the periods January 1994 – April 1996 and May 1996 – June 1997 I acted as Assistant Editor and Editor of the “Notices of the South African Mathematical Society”.
In 1997 I was a member of the Scientific Committee of the Proceedings of the International Conference on Near-rings and Near-fields held in Stellenbosch, and in the same year I co-organized the special session on non-commutative algebra at the Joint Mathematics Conference of the American Mathematical Society, South African Mathematical Society and London Mathematical Society held in Pretoria.
I have acted on numerous occasions as a referee of papers in various journals, including “Linear Algebra and its Applications”, “Linear and Multilinear Algebra”, “Journal of Algebra”, “Proceedings of the Edinburgh Mathematical Society”, “Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy”, “Communications in Algebra”, “Quaestiones Mathematicae” and “Algebra Colloquium”, and I have been a Reviewer for “Mathematical Reviews” since 2005.
I was the supervisor of G.F. Conradie, who was awarded an MSc degree in 1994 at Stellenbosch University. The title of his thesis was “Complete blocked triangular matrix rings”.
I was also the supervisor of M.S. Marais for her MSc and PhD degrees, which she obtained at Stellenbosch University in 2007 and 2010 respectively. The title of her MSc thesis was “Idempotente voortbringers van matriksalgebras”, and the title of her PhD dissertation was “Contributions to centralizers in matrix rings”.
From 2012 – 2015 I was the supervisor of M.G. Sehoana, who was awarded an MSc degree in 2015 at Stellenbosch University. The title of his thesis was “On commutativity and Lie nilpotency in matrix algebras”.
I have acted as internal and external examiner for various MSc theses and PhD dissertations.
In November 2015 I was elected Vice President of the South African Mathemtical Society (SAMS), and I am Chairman of the Awards Committee of SAMS.
I have published approximately 60 papers in refereed journals, given talks at about 50 international and national conferences, paid and received about 60 research visits to and from co-workers nationally and internationally.
I have an extensive network of collaborators in a number of countries, including Hungary (Anh, Marki and Szigeti), Romania (Boboc and Dascalescu), USA (Birkenmeier and Smith), Bulgaria (Drensky), Poland (Ziembowski) and South Africa (Meyer and Van den Berg).
Most of my papers can be accessed directly at http://math.sun.ac.za/leon/publications/ by clicking on a specific paper.