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INFORMATION ON THE C·I·B SPREADS ACROSS THE NATION

Universities and scientific institutions in the northern parts of South Africa were the focus of attention for a group of C·I·B staff from 16 to 24 May 2007. The goal? To inform our partner institutions and other universities about the work that the C·I·B is doing and opportunities for research collaboration and student support. The team? Prof. Steven Chown (Director), Sarah Davies (Research Manager), Lufuno Vhengani (Database Manager) and Anel Garthwaite (Personal Assistant to the Director).

The trip kicked off with a visit to the Department of Zoology and Entomology at the University of Pretoria, where Prof. Chown made the first of several presentations about the C·I·B to staff and students. The Database Manager, Mr. Lufuno Vhengani also took the opportunity to discuss the C·I·B’s approach to data management and archiving with the C·I·B Core Team Members (Prof. Christian Chimimba and Dr. Berndt van Rensburg) and post-graduate students of the department. But the University of Pretoria was not the only port of call for the day... In the afternoon, the team visited the National Research Foundation, where Mr. Vhengani presented the C·I·B’s newly-launched Information Retrieval and Submission System to staff of the C·I·B’s major funding bodies, the Department of Science and Technology and the National Research Foundation.

The following day took the team to the Kruger National Park, not just to view spectacular wildlife, small and large, but to meet with members of the SANParks Scientific Services division, hosted by Mr. Llewellyn Foxcroft, who is an active collaborator with the Centre. In Skukuza the team had the opportunity to meet scientific staff and discuss the C·I·B’s research projects, many of which involve data collection in national parks. Our visit to the South African Environmental Observation Network’s Ndluvo Node was timed to coincide with the SAEON Science Week events in Phalaborwa. There, we spoke about the C·I·B’s Iimbovane Outreach Project and the importance of invasion biology and science careers for South Africa’s development to 174 high school pupils. This was the most popular presentation of the trip!

The team then moved on to two other destinations in Limpopo, the Universities of Venda (in Thohoyandou) and Limpopo (outside Polokwane). At the School of Mathematics and Natural Sciences at the University of Venda we were welcomed by Drs. Stefan Foord and Jan Crafford, and 20 students who showed a lot of interest in the long term research the C·I·B is doing. Drs. Derek Engelbrecht and Abraham Addo-Bediako at the University of Limpopo gave the team an equally warm reception and an opportunity to present information about the C·I·B to the lecturers and students of various departments.

On leaving Polokwane the team bid farewell to the bushveld and headed back to Gauteng, where we visited the Centre for Wildlife Management (CWM) at the University of Pretoria, where Dr. Michael Somers, a Core Team Member of the C·I·B, and the CWM students discussed with us the study opportunities offered by the C·I·B. That afternoon the team visited the University of the Witwatersrand, where Prof. Marcus Byrne had arranged for the C·I·B to present a seminar in the School of Animal, Plant and Environmental Sciences. This presentation was particularly well-received and led to energetic discussions about the scope of invasion biology and suggestions for future collaborations. The Department of Zoology at the University of Johannesburg was our final destination. Here we were welcomed by Dr. Nico Smit and the honours class of the department, and caught a glimpse of the superb DVD that the class had produced on their recent field trip. On this occasion Prof. Chown gave the final presentation about the C·I·B.

For information on our plans to visit other institutions, please see the C·I·B web site or contact Sarah Davies on 021 808 3922.

 

Prof. Steven Chown, Director of the CIB giving a presentaion about the CIB at the University of Pretoria.

 

Mr. Lufuno Vhengani, CIB's Database and IT Manager at the presentation of the Information Retrieval and Submission System (IRSS) at the University of Pretoria.

 

The audience at the University of Limpopo, in Pietersburg, Limpopo Province, while listening to the presentation given by Prof. Steven Chown.