Home > People > Research Staff > Researchers



Prof. Corne Van Walbeek

Director of REEP and Professor, School of Economics, University of Cape Town

Corné is currently a Professor at the School of Economics at UCT, and the Director of REEP. His research interests are primarily in the economics of tobacco control, and in particular how changes in the excise tax on tobacco products can affect cigarette consumption. He developed the Tobacco Excise Tax Simulation Model (TETSiM), which is often used to determine the likely fiscal and consumption impact of a change in the level or the structure of the excise tax. His research has focused on the estimation of price elasticities of demand, how excise tax increases impact the poor, changes in smoking by different demographic groups over time, and the industry’s reaction to changes in the tobacco excise tax. In recent years his research has been focused on measuring illicit trade. Other than research on the economics of tobacco control, Corné has also has a lively research interest in the economics of alcohol policy and sugar-sweetened beverages.

Dr. Hana Ross

Principal Research Officer

Hana received her Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She has over seventeen years’ experience in conducting research on the economics of tobacco control and in management of research projects in low- and middle-income countries. Her current research projects focus on the economic impact of tobacco control interventions in Africa, South East Asia, and in the European Union. She is also interested in the economic impact of risk factors associated with non-communicable diseases such as obesity, lack of physical activity, and alcohol consumption.

Zunda Chisha

Research Officer

Zunda is a Zambian Masters student with an undergraduate degree in economics from the University of Zambia. He spent four years working in the area of malaria control with a focus on surveillance systems in low transmission areas. Currently, he is working part-time with the REEP as a Research Officer. He is also working on completing his Masters’ thesis which is focused on inequality in smoking prevalence and its impact on various outcomes in Namibia. His areas of interest include the public health impact of tobacco taxation, understanding the illicit trade of tobacco and the translation of these into policy.

Vanessa Darsamo

Data Clearing House Co-ordinator

Vanessa holds a Bachelor’s degree in Economics and Demography from the University of Swaziland and completed a Masters Degree in Development Economics from the University of Cape Town. Vanessa studied the societal costs of methamphetamine use in the Western Cape province in partial fulfilment of the degree in Development Economics. Vanessa is the project coordinator in the Tobacco and Alcohol Data Clearinghouse, which is concerned with collection and dissemination of tobacco and alcohol-related data. Previously, Vanessa worked with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine on HIV costing studies with International Research Exchange Board (IREX) on a media strengthening project.

Sam Filby

Research Officer and Programme manager of the WHO FCTC Knowledge Hub on tobacco taxation and illicit trade

Sam is a research officer at REEP, and the programme manager of the WHO FCTC Knowledge Hub on tobacco taxation and illicit trade. She is also a lecturer in the School of Economics. Sam holds a Masters (with distinction) in Economics, specializing in Economic development, from UCT. Her dissertation focussed on barriers to FCTC implementation in South Africa, particularly on the economic aspects of the treaty. Sam joined REEP as a research assistant during her Masters studies, and joined the Unit as a permanent staff member in 2019. Her research interests include tobacco tax modelling, the economics of tobacco control in developing countries, tobacco endgame strategies and the economics of e-cigarettes.

Simphiwe Khoza

Research Officer

Simphiwe is a Research Officer for REEP. She holds a Masters specialising in Economics from the University of Stellenbosch. Her thesis analysed SA health data and census data to identify socioeconomic trends to better understand whether economically disenfranchised communities with the highest burden of HIV were not prioritised during ARV rollout, and had a lower probability of receiving ART during 2005 to 2008. The study uses non-parametric estimation methods such as survival analysis as part of supervised learning from the actuarial tool kit. Simphiwe has a strong interest in Data Science within economics, more by using machine learning and deep learning techniques to better understand human behaviour.

Senzo Mthembu

Research Officer

Senzo is a Research Officer for REEP. Senzo holds a Masters of Commerce, specializing in Economic Science at the University of Cape Town. His Masters thesis analysed the socioeconomic impact of stock volatility in the fishing industry. Senzo's research interests include data quality, socioeconomic issues and labour economics with a focus on inequality, price elasticity and public policy. His current project at REEP is on the tobacco tax reforms, within the context of promoting economic and human development in West Africa.

Kirsten van der Zee

Research Officer

Kirsten is a Research Officer at REEP. She holds a Masters specialising in Applied Economics from the University of Cape Town, where her Masters thesis analyses minimum wages in the South African agricultural sector. She has research experience in development economics with a focus on labour economics, minimum wages, and poverty and inequality analysis. Her current research focuses on the collection of cigarette price data in Africa and tobacco taxation policy in South Africa.

Nicole Vellios

Research Officer

Nicole holds a Master of Social Science (specialising in Applied Economics) from UCT. She joined the project full time after graduating in 2013. Her Masters thesis focused on the determinants of smoking initiation in South Africa using the first wave of the National Income Dynamics Study. Her current research interests include the illicit trade of tobacco products, the determinants of smoking cessation, and packaging of tobacco products. 

Postdoctoral fellows

Micheal Kofi Boachie

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Micheal is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at REEP. He received his BA and MPhil degrees in Economics from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Ghana, and a PhD (Economics) degree from Annamalai University, India. Micheal has research interests in Health Economics and the economics aspects of Tobacco Control.

Chengetai Dare

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Chengetai is a Research Fellow at REEP. He holds a BSc Economics and MSc Economics, both from the University of Zimbabwe. He received his PhD from Stellenbosch University. His research interests are tax policy, tax administration, health economics, public economics and behavioral (experimental) economics.

Zachary Gitonga

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Zachary is Postdoctoral Research Fellow at REEP. He completed his PhD (Economics) at the University of Cape Town. He holds a Master of Science degree in Agricultural and Applied Economics from the University of Nairobi. Zachary has research interests in impact evaluation, applied research in development and health economics. Previously he worked as a research associate at CIMMYT, a research assistant at the University of Nairobi, and an MSc. research fellow at ICIPE.


Megan Little

Megan conducts research and data analysis for a range of projects at the South African Labour and Development Research Unit (SALDRU) in the fields of poverty, education, health and household structures. An example of her research includes: "Evaluating the impact of tobacco tax adjustments on illicit tobacco trade in the country of Georgia" (published in the Economics of Tobacco Control Journal, January 2019).

Chipo Rusere

Chipo is a Project Coordinator for a Cape Town-based sustainable development consultancy. She is from Zimbabwe, and was awarded her Masters in December 2019 at UCT. In her Master’s thesis, Chipo assesses the implementation of Zimbabwe’s current tobacco-control legislation, and how it aligns with the provisions of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. She is currently enrolled for a second Master’s in Climate Change and Sustainable Development.