Theoretical Physics
(Page currently under construction…)

Introducing the theoretical physics environment

Our history

The theoretical physics environment in the Department of Physics was known as the Institute of Theoretical Physics (and before that as the Institute of Theoretical Nuclear Physics) and was founded in 1984 with the support of the Nuclear Development Corporation of South Africa.

The fundamental objectives of the group are to undertake research projects in theoretical physics, to assist in the education of graduate students and to provide a centre for the development and co-ordination of activities in theoretical physics in the Physics Department and elsewhere.

There are degree programmes or streams in theoretical physics at all levels in the Department of Physics at Stellenbosch University. If you are interested in a theoretical physics degree, please explore this and the rest of the Department’s website. You are invited to contact staff members with queries about potential research projects, and please consult the useful information for postgraduate applicants in the Department of Physics.

Our research

Our research activities (more details below) cover a wide spectrum and include the study of

Please note that the Nuclear Physics, Photonics, and Astrophysics environments in the Department of Physics also produce expert theory with some academics being members of or associated with multiple groups. An overview Department’s research is presented here

Also some members of the National Institute for Theoretical and Computational Sciences are theoretical physics researchers.

Our connections

Theoretical Physics is part of the Department of Physics where there are experimental and also other theoretical physics acitivites.

Members of the environment have numerous contacts to other groups and Departments in Stellenbosch and beyond.

The activities of the Theory Group are often closely linked to those of the Stellenbosch-based hub of the National Institute for Theoretical and Computational Sciences.


Current academic staff members

Dr Anslyn John

Office: Room 1028, Merensky Building
Telephone: +27-21-808-3371
E-mail: anslyn @ etc.
Please also see the Astronomy and astrophysics group website.

Dr Hannes Kriel

Office: Room 1014, Merensky Building
Telephone: +27-21-808-3658
E-mail: hkriel @ etc.

Prof. Kristian Müller-Nedebock

Office: Room 1060, Merensky Building
Telephone: +27-21-808-3386
E-mail: kkmn @ etc.
Group website: Physics in Biology

Prof. Frederik Scholtz

Office: Room 1048, Merensky Building
Telephone: +27-21-808-3383
E-mail: fgs @ etc.

Prof. Herbert Weigel

Office: Room 1025, Merensky Building
Telephone: +27-21-808-3378
E-mail: weigel @ etc.
Personal or group website:

Emeritus Members

  • Prof. Hans Eggers
  • Prof. Hendrik Geyer
  • Prof. Dieter Heiss


Stellenbosch theoretical physicists who are members of the National Institute for Theoretical and Computational Sciences and the School for Data Science and Computational thinking.

Prof. Francesco Petruccione (NITheCS, School for Data Science and Computational thinking, & Department of Physics)

Room 1042, Merensky Building
Prof. Petruccione is the interim director of the National Institute for Theoretical and Computational Sciences, and a member of the School for Data Science and Computational Thinking at Stellenbosch University, he also holds the academic rank of Professor in the Department of Physics at SU.
Webpage: NITheCS Staff Webpage


Postdoctoral members (under construction…)

  • Dr Graeme Pleasance
  • Dr Partha Nandi

Student members (under construction…)

  • Dean Brand
  • Keegan Davids
  • Cornel de Villiers
  • Nadine du Toit
  • Nicholas Folscher
  • Abbas Hassafar
  • Langa Horoto
  • Riyaadh Jamodien
  • Matthys Lourens
  • Chanelle Manfouo
  • Shane McFarthing
  • Graham Mitchell
  • Nicholas Moschides
  • Ian Pittaway
  • Damian Petersen
  • Damian Robson
  • Amy Rouillard
  • Donovan Slabbert
  • Jaymie van der Merwe
  • Luan van Loggenberg
  • Gerhard Woithe


Solitons in field theory

Configurations with localized energy-densities (solitons) emerge in almost any non-linear field theory. Solitons have particle properties. So we use solitons, for example, to study baryon properties that (so far) evade direct computation from QCD. Also, solitons can induce sizable corrections to energies on the quantum level. We compute these corrections in field theories like the standard model. In particular we ask whether these energy corrections can stabilize solitons that would be unstable classically.
See also: Herbert Weigel website
Prof. Herbert Weigel.

Soft Condensed Matter Physics and Physics in Biological Systems

We specialise in understanding polymer and filament networks, active systems and physics of structures at cellular and sub-cellular length-scales. A variety of analytical and computational tools are used, and close relationships exist with other experimental groups.
Please see: home page
Prof. Kristian Müller-Nedebock.

Condensed Matter Physics

Dr Hannes Kriel.

Queries about theoretical physics research or teaching programmes

10 + 4 =