Science
Welcome to Stellenbosch University

​Science Faculty News

 

 

Biodiversity suffers as climate warmshttp://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=5658Biodiversity suffers as climate warmsWiida Fouriue-Basson<p>​ A simplified ecological landscape – with significant biodiversity loss – might be the outcome if a global temperature increase cannot be restricted to 1.5°C above historical pre-industrial levels.<br></p><p>This is the warning from <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Guy_Midgley">Professor Guy Midgley</a>, a world-leading expert on global change and its impact on biodiversity, in an <a href="http://science.sciencemag.org/content/360/6390/714">insight article</a> published in <em>Science</em> this week. <br></p><div class="ms-rtestate-read ms-rte-embedcode ms-rte-embedil ms-rtestate-notify"><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/BvPKUFt9bmY" frameborder="0"></iframe> </div><p><br></p><p>“Warming by more than two degrees will take the world into a temperature state that it hasn't seen for several millions of years," he says from his office in the Department of Botany and Zoology at Stellenbosch University, South Africa. This is in reaction to a report from the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at the University of East Anglia in the United Kingdom, also published in this issue of <em>Science</em>, in which Professor Rachel Warren and others show that if the global temperature increase cannot be limited to 1.5°C, but is allowed to rise with 2°C, it roughly doubles the risks associated with warming for plants, animals and insects.</p><p>With current pledges by nations towards limiting climate change, scientists predict a corresponding warming of about 3.2°C. This could see 47% of insect species, 26% of vertebrate and 16% of plant species standing to lose at least half of their geographic ranges.</p><p>Professor Midgley says higher levels of warming would lead to systemic ecological simplification, a process where many “climate losers" are replaced by far fewer “climate winners". Such a simplified ecological landscape could have impacts on ecosystem services such as water quality, soil conservation, flood prevention, all of which are important for human well-being. Fewer insects also mean fewer pollinators and hence concomitant implications for many plant species, and related food production.</p><p>But even if governments and industry manage to limit warming to 1.5°C, recent research shows that large tracts of land would have to be made available for capturing and storing carbon: some estimates are for up to 18% of the land surface or 24-36% of current arable cropland by the end of this century.</p><p>Either way, biodiversity may get the worst end of the bargain, because the expanding land use itself could threaten remaining habitats.</p><p>“We need to stay as close to 1.5°C as possible. That is really the conclusion from the Warren et al paper. So here is the irony. In order to achieve the 1.5°C target, we may well damage many of the habitats that support biodiversity in order to achieve a target that will save biodiversity.</p><p>“There is way too much debate about the issue of climate change and whether or not it is real. What we really need to be doing is debating how we solve this problem. Those very high CO<sub>2 </sub>concentrations could well change the ecosystems of the world irrevocably. If we increase CO<sub>2</sub> to over a thousand parts per million, over the next fifty to sixty years, which we are quite capable of doing if we fail to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, we could literally move the world back 20 to 30 million years in the space of a century. It is like moving ecosystems backwards in time at the speed of light.</p><p>“We need to find the combinations of options that minimise conflicts between these competing demands. Only if we succeed in solving this nexus between climate security, land use and biodiversity conservation, will we be able to ensure a sustainable future in the long-term," he concludes.</p><p>Professor Midgley is lead author in an upcoming global assessment on biodiversity and ecosystem services, due in May 2019, for the Intergovernmental Panel on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES).</p><p><strong>Media enquiries</strong></p><p>Professor Guy Midgley</p><p>Department of Botany and Zoology, Stellenbosch University</p><p>Tel: +27 _21 808 3223/3236<br></p><p>E-mail: <a href="mailto:gfmidgley@sun.ac.za">gfmidgley@sun.ac.za</a><br></p>
Africa’s smallest horseshoe bat weighs in at five gramshttp://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=5652Africa’s smallest horseshoe bat weighs in at five gramsWiida Fouriue-Basson<p>At only five grams a newly-discovered dwarf bat from Gorongosa National Park in Mozambique has now become Africa's smallest horseshoe bat.<br></p><p>According to an article published in the <em>Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society</em> recently, <em>Rinolophus gorongosae </em>appears to occur only within the borders of Gorongosa National Park in Mozambique and possibly also on nearby Mount Inago. </p><p>A team of researchers, led by <a href="http://vhembebiosphere.org/sarchi/staffmembers/prof-peter-taylor">Professor Peter Taylor</a> from the University of Venda, made this discovery after a number of bats were captured from two caves in Mozambique. The fieldwork was conducted by Dr Samantha Stoffberg, from the DST/NRF Centre of Excellence for Invasion Biology at Stellenbosch University, together with Dr Steven Goodman from the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, and Professor Corrie Schoeman from the University of KwaZulu-Natal.</p><p>Using modern techniques such as molecular DNA analysis and morphological studies of the skull, noseleaf and penis bone, it was established that while the dwarf bat was most similar in appearance to Swinny's bat from South Africa, it was quite distinct in terms of its call frequency, DNA composition and a range of other morphological characteristics. And seeing that this newly-discovered dwarf bat weighs only five gram, this Moszambique resident is now officially Africa's smallest horseshoe bat.</p><p>According to Taylor their findings highlight the important role of ancient mountain-forming processes in the speciation of horseshoe bats: “This has important conservation implications as it reveals that species have narrower ranges than previously thought, and current threats to mountain habitats, like burning, afforestation, alien invasions and climate change, can greatly increase the extinction risk for these vulnerable species". </p><p>The study, “<a href="https://academic.oup.com/zoolinnean/advance-article-abstract/doi/10.1093/zoolinnean/zly024/4984486">Integrative taxonomy resolves three new cryptic species of small southern African horseshoe bats (<em>Rhinolophus</em>)</a>", was published in the <em>Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society</em> on 24 April 2018.</p><p>Professor Taylor holds the <a href="http://vhembebiosphere.org/sarchi/">South African Research Chair (SARChI) in Biodiversity and Change in the Vhembe Biosphere Reserve</a> at the School of Mathematical and Natural Sciences, University of Venda. The chair is held jointly with Stellenbosch University. Taylor's research focuses on invasion biology, more specifically zoonotic diseases, patterns of colonisation and integrated pest management of invasive rat and mouse species.</p><p>On the photo, different views of the newly described Gorongosa horseshoe bat. Copyright Piotr Naskrecki.<br></p><p>M<strong>edia enquiries</strong></p><p>Professor Peter Taylor</p><p>University of Venda / Stellenbosch University<br></p><p>Tel: + 27 83 792 4810<br> E-mail: <a href="mailto:peter.taylor@univen.ac.za">peter.taylor@univen.ac.za</a>  / <a href="mailto:peter.taylor.univen@gmail.com">peter.taylor.univen@gmail.com</a><br><br></p>
SU experts honoured by Academy for Science and Artshttp://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=5613SU experts honoured by Academy for Science and ArtsCorporate Communication / Korporatiewe Kommunikasie<p>Researchers at Stellenbosch University (SU) are again among those who will be honoured this year by the South African Academy for Science and Arts (Suid-Afrikaanse Akademie vir Wetenskap en Kuns) for their contributions to science and arts. They will receive their awards at two ceremonies in Pretoria and Stellenbosch respectively.<br></p><p>The recipients are Prof Emile van Zyl of the Department of Microbiology, Prof Barend Herbst, Professor Emeritus of Applied Mathematics, and Prof Lizette Joubert, Chief Researcher at the Infruitec-Nietvoorbij Research Institute and Extraordinary Professor in the Department of Food Science.<br></p><p>Prof Van Zyl is awarded the Havenga Prize for Life Sciences for his innovative research in the natural sciences, his research excellence, competitiveness, and academic expertise. For more than a decade he has been campaigning for the use of environmentally friendly fossil fuel alternatives and has contributed immensely to this area or research.</p><p>The Havenga Prize for Physical Sciences (Chemistry) is awarded to Prof Barend Herbst for an academic career stretching four decades and characterized by research outputs of the highest quality and service delivery at various levels. Herbst was involved among others in the South African Mathematics Olympiad and the South African Symposium for Numerical and Applied Mathematics.<br></p><p>Prof Joubert receives a medal of honour from the Academy's Faculty of Science and Technology for her innovative, sustainable and applied product-based research on rooibos and honey bush. Her research led to the development of various processes implemented by the rooibos and honey bush industry. She also received international recognition for her work.<br></p><p>Alumni from SU are among the other recipients.<br></p><p><br></p>
Department of Soil Science celebrates 100 years of existance! Come and celebrate with us!http://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=5562Department of Soil Science celebrates 100 years of existance! Come and celebrate with us!AG Hardie<p>​<span lang="EN-US">The Department of Soil Science is celebrating its 100<sup>th</sup> year of existence along with the Faculty of AgriSciences and Stellenbosch University in 2018. Soil Science was one of the first four departments that gave lectures at the Stellenbosch University, then known as Stellenbosch College. </span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span lang="EN-US">The Department of Soil Science hereby invites you to join us for the Centenary Celebration Lectures, and Faculty Winetasting to be held on 4<sup>th</sup> May 2018. <br></span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><img src="/english/PublishingImages/Lists/dualnews/My%20Items%20View/AgriSciences%20Celebration.jpg" alt="AgriSciences Celebration.jpg" style="margin:5px;" /><br><span lang="EN-US"></span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span lang="EN-US"></span><strong><span lang="EN-US">RSVP</span></strong><span lang="EN-US"> to Ms Annatjie French before 31 March, Tel. 021-808 4794 or e-mail: <a href="mailto:aef1@sun.ac.za">aef1@sun.ac.za</a></span></p>
SU, KU Leuven confer first joint doctoratehttp://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=5553SU, KU Leuven confer first joint doctorateCorporate Communication / Korporatiewe Kommunikasie [Alec Basson]<p>​The Faculty of Education at Stellenbosch University (SU) on Thursday (22 March 2018) conferred its first-ever joint doctorate. <br></p><p>Dr Kurt Schütte received a joint doctorate in Sport Science from SU and one of its oldest partners, the Catholic University of Leuven (KU Leuven) in Belgium at the fifth ceremony of SU's March graduation. This was also the first doctorate to be awarded jointly by the two institutions. Schütte's supervisors were Prof Ranel Venter from SU's Department of Sport Science and Dr Benedicte Vanwanseele from KU Leuven's Department of Movement Sciences.<br></p><p>“I feel incredibly lucky to have had this unique opportunity to blend inspiration and leverage knowledge from two outstanding universities. Of course, it wasn't always plain sailing, since being the first joint doctoral candidate meant that at times there wasn't any real template or anyone's 'footsteps' to follow," says Schütte who hails from Somerset West in the Western Cape.  <br></p><p>Currently a postdoctoral researcher at KU Leuven, Schütte's thesis focused on how useful wearables are in detecting fatigue, energy and injury in runners on the track or trail routes.<br></p><p>He says he is grateful for Prof Venter's mentorship, the camaraderie during the research experiments and data collection, as well as the fantastic funding opportunities that SU provided. <br></p><p>“Studying abroad has been an extremely exciting opportunity to learn new European cultures and travel abroad. For me it has been a huge privilege and I really encourage all students to go for it if they get the chance."<br></p><p>Schütte says students should explore different scholarship opportunities, attend international conferences if possible, and also embrace diversity. <br></p><p>“I personally believe that being exposed to different perspectives from different universities has expanded my vision for research and creativity for new experiments." <br></p><p><strong>Other joint doctorates</strong></p><p>Schütte's joint doctorate wasn't the only one to be conferred at SU's March graduation. Joint degrees were also awarded to <span class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-5-0" style="font-size:11pt;line-height:107%;font-family:calibri, sans-serif;text-decoration:underline;"><a href="/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=5541"><strong class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-5-0" style="text-decoration:underline;">Dr Alanna Rebelo</strong></a></span><span class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-5-0" style="text-decoration:underline;">​</span><span class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-5-0"> </span>and Dr Simon Couzinié. Rebello, a postdoctoral researcher in SU's Faculty of AgriSciences, received hers in Conservation Ecology from SU and the University of Antwerp in Belgium, while Dr Simon Couzinié, a lecturer at the <em>École Normale Supérieure</em> de <em>Lyon,</em> was awarded his in Geology by SU and Jean Monnet University in France. Rebello's doctorate was also the first in the Faculty of AgriSciences to be conferred by SU and the University of Antwerp. With joint PhD partnership agreements with 21 partner institutions, SU has awarded 23 joint doctorates to date. <img src="/english/PublishingImages/Lists/dualnews/My%20Items%20View/Rebelo.JPG" alt="Rebelo.JPG" class="ms-rtePosition-2" style="margin:5px;width:385px;height:258px;" /><br></p><p>Supervised by Prof Karen Esler from SU's Department of Conservation Ecology and Entomology and Prof Patrick Meire from the Ecosystem Management Group at the University of Antwerp, Rebelo looked at, among others, the benefits palmiet wetlands hold for ecosystems such as slowing the force of floods, cleaning water and providing habitat for biodiversity and sediment retention.<br></p><p>Reflecting on her doctoral journey, Rebelo says she thoroughly enjoyed her PhD and learning the ropes at a new international institution. <br></p><p>“Most of all I loved my research group. I got to attend courses abroad, conferences, and research trips. I was fortunate to meet exciting researchers from all around the world as well as see many very interesting wetland systems."<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">Dr Simon Couzinié says he is very honoured and proud to receive the joint degree from SU and Jean Monnet University. His supervisors were Prof Gary Stevens from SU's Department of Earth Sciences and Jean-François Moyen from Jean Monnet University.<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;"><img src="/english/PublishingImages/Lists/dualnews/My%20Items%20View/Simon.JPG" alt="Simon.JPG" style="margin:5px;width:300px;height:344px;" />“During the past three years, I have benefited from the high level research facilities and academic resources available at both institutions and I am grateful to my supervisors and the Science Faculties for having given me such a great opportunity." <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">“In South Africa, I also had the chance to collaborate and build-up friendships with local students and colleagues while getting to know more about this beautiful country. I clearly regard this joint PhD experience as a personal and professional achievement."<br></p><p>Commenting on the three joint doctorates, Mr Robert Kotze, Senior Director of Stellenbosch University (SU) International,  says “international academic collaborations normally forms the basis for developing joint degrees and awarding a joint PhD can be seen as the culmination of the collaboration of the two supervisors." <br></p><p>“Not only does it bring together different academic traditions, but it recognises academic complementarity and confirms the candidate's ability to conduct research in an international context."<br></p><p>It is quite fitting that the three joint doctorates were awarded in the same year that SU is commemorating its centenary and also celebrating 25<sup> </sup>years of internationalisation. Leading international activities at the university, SU International, which first opened its doors in 1993 as the then Office for International Relations, plays an influential role in positioning SU as rooted in Africa and global in reach. </p><ul><li><strong>Main photo</strong>: Dr Kurt Schütte with Prof Ranel Venter at the graduation ceremony. <strong>Photographer</strong>: Anton Jordaan<br></li><li><strong>Photo 1</strong>: Dr Alanna Rebelo at her graduation ceremony. <strong>Photographer</strong>: Hennie Rudman<br></li><li><strong>Photo 2</strong>: Dr Simon Couzinié<br></li></ul><p> </p><p><br></p>
Sisters both awarded degrees in polymer sciencehttp://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=5554Sisters both awarded degrees in polymer scienceWiida Fourie-Basson<p>The Harmzen-sisters from Melkbosstrand not only shared the same science teacher at the Bloemhof High School for Girls, but this week they were awarded a PhD- and MSc-degree respectively in polymer science under the supervision of the same study leader in the Department of Chemistry and Polymer Science at Stellenbosch University (SU).<br></p><p>Elrika Harmzen-Pretorius is four years older than her sibling, Nelmari Harmzen, which means that Elrika was in matric in Bloemhof High School for Girls when her sister started with Grade 8 at the same school. Both are full of praise for their teacher, Ms Clarisa Steyn, subject head for physical sciences at Bloemhof: “I've always wanted to study something to do with chemistry, as I loved the subject at school," Elrika recounts.</p><p>“She was the best science teacher ever, even though she always called me Elrika," affirms Nelmari.</p><p>The Harmzen sisters have been exposed to chemistry-related careers since early childhood: their maternal grandfather, Wouter de Waal, was a chemist, and their father, Pieter Harmzen, works at a nuclear power facility in the United Arab Emirates.<br></p><p>Yet it was more by accident than design that they both landed up in Professor Bert Klumperman's research group. The Department of Chemistry and Polymer Science is currently the only institution in South Africa that offers polymer science on both undergraduate and postgraduate level. Furthermore, Klumperman is also holder of the South African research chair in advanced supramolecular architectures. During 2017 altogether five PhD-students successfully completed their research and graduated under his supervision. The others are Dr Annette Kargaard, Dr Uaadhrajh Narsingh and Dr Welmarie van Schalwyk.<br></p><p><img class="ms-rtePosition-4" alt="small_harmzen sisters 008.jpg" src="/english/PublishingImages/Lists/dualnews/My%20Items%20View/small_harmzen%20sisters%20008.jpg" style="margin:5px;" /><br> </p><p>Nelmari says it was a great privilege to conduct research in the same laboratory than her older sister: “She helped me so much and I am grateful that we could share this experience. But now I'm finished with studying for a while!"</p><p>She started working at Falke Eurosocks in Cape Town this week, while Elrika is employed as a senior analyst at the electron microscopy division of SU's Central Analytical Services (CAF).</p><h4>More about polymer science</h4><p>SU is the only tertiary institution in South Africa that offers training in polymer science on both undergraduate and postgraduate level. This is thanks to the pioneering work done by the founding father of polymer science in South Africa, Professor Ronald Sanderson. In 1977 he was the only polymer scientist in South Africa and Africa. He established the Institute for Polymer Science with the financial support of industry partners such as Sasol and Plascon. In 2000 the institute was merged with the Department of Chemistry and it became the Department of Chemistry and Polymer Science. Today the division has its own building, with five modern, well-equipped laboratoria and state-of-the-art analytical equipment. There are eight fulltime academics and an annual cohort of 50 postgraduate students.</p><p>Professor Sanderson passed away in August 2015. In commemoration of his contribution to polymer science at SU and South Africa, the department established the Ronald Sanderson Honours Bursary in Polymer Science. For more information, go to http://academic.sun.ac.za/polymer/RDS%20bursaries.html<br></p><p><em>​On the photo, Mrs Elize Harmzen, Dr Elrika Harmzen, Nelmari Harmzen and their father, Mr Pieter Harmzen.</em><br></p>
Fifth graduation ceremony: Students from Science, Education, Law and Military Science graduatehttp://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=5536Fifth graduation ceremony: Students from Science, Education, Law and Military Science graduateCorporate Communications Division<p>​Almost 400 students in the faculties of Science, Education, Law and Military Science at Stellenbosch University (SU) received their degrees at the fifth March graduation ceremony on Thursday (22 March 2018).<br></p><p>At the ceremony, honorary doctorates were also bestowed on two highly regarded thought leaders – Baroness Christine van den Wyngaert, “an esteemed international academic and International Criminal Court judge", and Prof Brian O'Connell, “a formidable and visionary leader at all levels of South African education". SU's Centenary commemorations include the awarding of 13 honorary doctorates during the March graduation week. Both Van den Wyngaert and O'Connell delivered short speeches after receiving their degrees. <br></p><p>In his welcoming address at the event, SU Rector and Vice-Chancellor Prof Wim de Villiers said the graduation was a truly historic occasion, as it formed part of the University's Centenary year.<br></p><p>“Against the backdrop of valuable lessons from our complex history, our Centenary signifies a new beginning for Stellenbosch University. We strive to be a relevant institution that plays a key role in the development of our nation and our continent," he said.<br></p><p>Prof De Villiers reminded the audience that the Faculty of Science started out in a 1 m x 1 m space –  the size of the wall cabinet in which its first scientific instruments were stored. Today, the Faculty has 170 laboratories in eight academic departments spread across 13 buildings on campus and empowers nearly 900 graduates per year with globally competitive qualifications.</p><p>“The Faculty of Education, in turn, is one of the four original faculties with which the University started out. Today, we are proud of its contribution to the improvement of education in the country. And, of course, the Faculty of Law occupies the beautiful Old Main Building, which dates back to the University's prehistory as Victoria College."<br></p><p>“In addition, our Faculty of Military Science is the only one of its kind in Africa, providing professional military education for the South African National Defence Force in accordance with an agreement with the Department of Defence, which has recently been renewed."<br></p><p><br></p><div class="ms-rtestate-read ms-rte-embedcode ms-rte-embedil ms-rtestate-notify"><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/zY9xUWUwNLY" frameborder="0"></iframe> </div><p><br></p><div class="ms-rtestate-read ms-rte-embedcode ms-rte-embedil ms-rtestate-notify"><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/lb6vYSz1thQ" frameborder="0"></iframe> </div><p><br></p><p>O'Connell's message to graduates was as follows: “If knowledge is electricity, you are the power source. You are the ones who will save the world. Hope must be followed by action." O'Connell also advised students to try and understand the past and keep their eye on the future, and to live by the slogan “Hope, action and knowledge".  </p><p>Van den Wyngaert said she was “extremely grateful to be honoured with this award. Stellenbosch University is one of the best in South Africa, Africa and the world". She also said it was encouraging to see South Africa's achievements in the pursuit of human rights, and urged the country to remain active in the international justice realm. <br></p><p><br></p>
Martin Smit new curator at Hortus Botanicus Amsterdamhttp://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=5526Martin Smit new curator at Hortus Botanicus AmsterdamWiida Fouriue-Basson<p>Martin Smit, curator of the SU Botanical Garden, has been appointed as the new curator of collections at one of the world's oldest botanical gardens, the <a href="https://www.dehortus.nl/?lang=en"><em>Hortus Botanicus</em> Amsterdam</a>.</p><p>Fortuitously he will then be in charge of one of the world's most valuable Pelargonium collections, which contains some of the original genetic material collected by botanists from Stellenbosch University in the 1970s and 1980s. Described as South Africa's “gift to the world', Pelargonium varieties are cultivated all over the world and are very popular as bedding plants and in flower boxes.</p><p>Smit says the collection was originally started by Adri van der Walt, then professor of botany at SU. Van der Walt collaborated with Gerhard Fischer in Germany, and a large part of the South African collection was sent to Germany. In 2007 the company he founded, Fischer Pelargonium, became one of the world's largest suppliers of pelargoniums.</p><p>In his farewell message, Martin emphasized the uniqueness of the SU Botanical Garden: “Few people realise that this is the only botanical garden in the Cape Floral Kingdom associated with a university. This creates unique opportunities for research and training. In other floral kingdoms around the world, you would typically find ten times and sometimes even hundreds of botanical gardens associated with universities."</p><p>He also singled out his staff and the volunteers for their hard work and support.</p><p>At a farewell function recently, several of his colleagues and Friends of the Garden recognized Smit's contribution towards restoring the status and research value of the SU Botanical Garden, often with limited resources.</p><p>Over the past five years Smit initiated several projects to restore neglected parts of the garden. The heating system for the lily dams was renovated to accommodate the specific needs of the giant water lily, <em>Victoria cruziana</em>. This is now the only garden in Africa, apart from Madagascar, where visitors can observe this unique lily.</p><p>The tropical glass house was renovated and enlarged and is now home to the world's smallest water lily, <em>Nymphaea thermarum</em>. This critically endangered water lily disappeared from the Rwandan wild a decade ago, and there is only a handful of botanical gardens worldwide who have succeed in propagating and growing this sensitive little plant.</p><p>On Martin's initiative the long-forgotten underground water reservoir was renovated, just in time to keep the plants alive during the current drought. </p><p>He introduced new standards of recordkeeping in the garden. The database has been digitalised and via the <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_8vchfDy34M">IrisBg database</a> the garden is now connected with other botanical gardens worldwide. Local visitors can learn more about the plants in the garden by downloading the <a href="/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=2892">Garden Explorer app</a> on their smart phones. </p><p>Viola Calitz, administrative officer, thanked Martin for his energy, commitment and drive: “He created several growth and training opportunities for his staff, including opportunities to visit gardens overseas. He managed to get the garden back on the international radar, which led to a significant increase in the number of international visitors. There is no doubt about his vision and passion for the garden."</p><p>Mr Bonakele Mpecheni, horticultural assistant, wished him well with his new career and said he hoped the new garden will value Martin for what he can contribute.</p><p>Professor Léanne Dreyer spoke on behalf of the Department of Botany and Zoology when she thanked Martin for his support for research and training: “Martin realized the value of the unique scientific collections which have been built up over many years. He was proactive in safeguarding the collections and making sure they are well looked after. He also used his contacts worldwide to further expand existing collections. He understood the value of the garden for tertiary training in botany, and went out of his way to ensure that practical material from diverse and unique plant families in the garden was made available for several modules in Botany."</p><p>Dr Paul Hill from the Institute for Plant Biotechnology said researchers and postgraduate students benefited from several unique and news species that Martin added to the garden's collections. Martin was also instrumental in a research project to ensure the survival of the critically endangered powder brush lily, <a href="/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=5011"><em>Haemanthus pumilio</em></a>, in the Duthie Reserve in Stellenbosch.</p><p>A friend of the garden, Dave Pepler, said the garden today is the product of Martin's vision and unbelievable capacity for hard work.<br></p><p><img src="/english/PublishingImages/Lists/dualnews/My%20Items%20View/1.png" alt="1.png" style="margin:5px;width:595px;" /><br></p><p><em>On the photo: At the back, from left to right, Marga Rai (shop manager), Bonakele Mpecheni (horticultural assistant), Dywilisi Motshokovu (horticultural assistant), Martin Smit (curator). In front, Mbali Mkhize (horticultural assistant) and Viola Calitz (administrative officer).</em> Photo: Stefan Els​<br></p>
Young physiologist selected for Lindau Nobel Laureate meetinghttp://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=5528Young physiologist selected for Lindau Nobel Laureate meetingMedia and Communication, Faculty of Science<p>Dr Balindiwe Sishi from Stellenbosch University is one of 600 young scientists under the age of 35 worldwide who have been selected to participate in this year's Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting in Germany from 24 to 29 June.<br></p><p>Over a six day period the participants, from 84 different countries, will interact with 43 Nobel Laureates in physiology and medicine. This includes the winners of the <a href="https://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/medicine/laureates/2017/press.html">2017 Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine</a>. Jeffrey C Hall, Michael Rosbash and Michael W Young were honoured for their discoveries of molecular mechanisms controlling the circadian rhythm.</p><p>Dr Sishi, a researcher in the Department of Physiological Sciences, says she only applied after being nominated by Prof Kathy Myburgh, holder of the </p><p>SARChI research chair in <a href="/english/research-innovation/Research-Development/sa-research-chair-in-integrative-skeletal-muscle-physiology-biology-and-biotechnology">integrative skeletal muscle physiology, biology, and biotechnolog</a>y<strong>:</strong> “I was curious. I didn't even know such events take place!"</p><p>Sishi's research focuses on finding new ways to decrease the side-effects of the popular chemotherapy drug, Doxorubicin, on the heart. Cardiotoxicity is now considered one of the most important consequences of chemotherapy, leading to an increase in morbidity and mortality of cancer survivors. </p><p>“We use cellular and rat models to simulate the progress of the disease in order to understand which mechanisms are involved. On cellular level, the focus is on understanding the role of organelles such as the dynamic changes in the mitochondria, endoplasmic reticulum stress and the intracellular communication between organelles. We use this information to evaluate how Doxorubicin therapy will influence these parameters."</p><p>She says in order to be able to develop better treatment strategies, and improve the quality of life of cancer patients, it is essential to understand these complex mechanisms on a cellular level.<br></p><p><em>On the photo, Dr Balindiwe Sishi in her research laboratory. Photo: Stefan Els</em><br></p>
Barter market part of Faculty of AgriSciences' centenary celebrationshttp://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=5496Barter market part of Faculty of AgriSciences' centenary celebrationsEngela Duvenage<p>​A lively barter market during which the ingenuity of staff and students of the Faculty AgriScience were on full display was held last week in front of the Conservatorium. It formed part of the Faculty's centenary celebrations. It felt very much like a fête – but with no money exchanging hands.<br></p><p>In the spirit of bartering an aubergine was exchanged for a bottle of plant feed, a piece of chocolate cake for a bag full of green peppers, and decorated gift bags for seedlings grown in empty eggshells. The Aquaculture Division brought fresh tilapia, while keen gardeners in the faculty were able to show off products from their own vegetable gardens. </p><p>The Department of Agronomy made the best of a crate of books they were donated, while the Plant Breeding Laboratory offered seasoned popcorn in exchange. The “Vlei Vinke" team of the Department of Agricultural Economics bartered bottled water. Their piece de resistance was the craftily made labels of little birds around the neck of each bottle. </p><p>The market was officially opened with the ringing of a bell by Prof Danie Brink, dean of the Faculty of AgriSciences. He congratulated faculty members on their creativity and thanked them for their contribution towards delivering outstanding teaching and research at the University. He informed attendees about future plans for the Faculty, which include increasing student numbers. </p><p>Market organiser Carin Bruce was pleasantly surprised by the creative ideas and the vibrant atmosphere in the market place. “There were even a few staff members from different departments who had the opportunity of meeting each other face to face for the first time, after having communicated via email and the telephone for many years," said Bruce. </p><p>The Dassie vineyard robot was put through its paces during the event. It also saw the handing over of a cheque of more than R1650 donated by faculty members to Dr Rhoda Malgas' Small Things Fund. The fund is used to provide small amounts of money to students in need to buy anything from a calculator to a handbook or an overall. </p><p>The judges had a difficult task to choose between the best wares on display. The prize for the most creative idea went to the Good Luck Tin of Anchen Lombard and the Department of Food Science. Each tin was decorated with a distinctly Stellenbosch label, and contained small fun items. The best marketing idea was that of the Department of Plant Pathology. They offered two fruit cocktails named after well-known tropical diseases: “Pineapple Powdery Mildew" and “Watermelon Antracnose". (As far as we know no-one suffered any side effects!). The prize for the best team spirit was shared between the Department of Soil Science and Monika Basson. </p><p>The concept of a barter market was started a few years ago in the Department of Conservation Ecology and Entomology. According to department chair Prof Karen Esler it started off as a social experiment, and also an opportunity for staff members to show off their gardening skills and craftmanship. </p><p><strong>Further centenary celebrations</strong></p><p><strong></strong>The centenary celebrations of the Faculty of AgriSciences coincide with that of Stellenbosch University – and also the 100 year celebrations of the Departments of Plant Pathology, Genetics, Soil Science and Horticulture. </p><p>In celebration, 100 trees have already been planted at Welgevallen Experimental Farm.</p><ul><li>The celebrations culminate with a series of memorial lectures, a wine tasting and a gala dinner on Friday 4 May.</li><li>Memorial lectures are being planned by the four departments celebrating their centenary. These will take place in parallel in different buildings on campus on Friday 4 May at 15:30. Entrance is free. Among the speakers are Willem Botes (Department of Genetics), Prof Leopoldt van Huyssteen (Department of Soil Science) and Dr Cheryl Lennox (Department of Plant Pathology). </li><li>Afterwards, a tasting of Die Laan wines from the SU's own Welgevallen wine cellar will be held. </li><li>The Centenary Gala Dinner takes place at 18:30 at Spier. The popular song writer and television personality Coenie de Villiers will be the guest artist. A limited number of tickets are still available.</li><li>Paintings of some of the faculty's historic buildings by artist Diane Johnson-Ackerman will be on display. </li><li>For more information about the celebrations, contact Carin Bruce at cbruce@sun.ac.za .</li></ul><p> </p><p><br> </p>