Stellenbosch University
Welcome to Stellenbosch University
From Namibia and Tanzania to Ghana – discovering Africa as an economic geologist
Author: Media & Communication, Faculty of Science
Published: 31/03/2021

With a doctoral degree in economic geology from Stellenbosch University in his pocket, Dr Stephan Dunn has already travelled far and wide on the African continent – first for his research on gold mineralisation processes in Tanzania, and now as project geologist for the company Remote Exploration Systems (RES).

Stephan will be receiving his PhD-degree together with 20 other PhD-graduates during the Faculty of Science's graduation ceremony on 1 April 2021.

Where did you matriculate and when?

I matriculated from Vredenburg High School in 2013.

When did you decide to study earth sciences and why?

I've always had a fascination with nature and how natural processes operate to shape our world, and I guess that curiosity drove me into this field.

It is not very often that geologists continue up to PhD level. What made you continue with the postgraduate study path? And your interest specifically in economic geology?

Of all the various fields within geology, I believe that research related to economic geology has the greatest impact on the exploration and mining industry. So, when the opportunity arose to pursue a research project related to gold mineralization in Tanzania with Dr Bjorn von der Heyden, I knew that I had to take it. 

I think the reason for continuing up to PhD level can be attributed to two factors; firstly, the opportunity to conduct research under the incredible guidance and mentorship of Dr Von der Heyden; and secondly, my passion for geology and always discovering new things.

Where are you working now, and how did you get there?

I joined the company, Remote Exploration Services (RES), as a Project Geologist at the start of 2021. In every aspect I am still a junior employee, but my experience to date with them has been amazing. I am currently working on an exciting orogenic gold exploration project in the magnificent Erongo Region of Namibia.

A typical day in your life?

Our fieldwork days start quite early in the morning and we are normally in the field by 7am until 5pm in the afternoon. Not one day is ever the same, but usually it involves geological mapping, core logging, report writing and data capture. It is certainly not the most glamorous lifestyle, but very rewarding if you have an appetite for discovery and exploration.

What are some of the remotest places you have been to?

My research and work as a geologist have allowed me to explore some very cool parts of Africa, the highlight of which has to be Lake Bosomtwe in Ghana, one of six meteoritic lakes in the world.

Any advice for undergraduate students? Or those starting to prepare for a career?

Mental resilience, perseverance and passion – if you have that, you are already halfway there.