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What lies ahead for SAEON’s Graduate Student Network in 2015: Introducing the new committee and activities for the year


For her recently completed MSc at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, newly elected committee member Nasiphi Ntshanga studied the transitions of plant lineages across biomes in southern Africa. Nasiphi enjoys travelling, the outdoors and learning new things. She will be continuing her studies at the SAEON Fynbos Node in Cape Town.


Olujimi Osidele, also known as Jimmy, is a master’s student at the University of Venda. His research interests include the application of GIS in environmental monitoring and observation and environmental assessments. Jimmy enjoys camping in the great outdoors, meeting new people, and playing soccer and tennis.

The annual meeting of the SAEON Graduate Student Network (GSN) committee was held at SAEON’s head office in Pretoria to bid farewell to outgoing committee members, restructure the current committee and outline the activities for the year.

Although bidding farewell to committee members is an annual process within the GSN, it is always a difficult period for a team that has, over time, become a hard-working ‘family’. The committee sadly bade farewell and extended their best wishes to outgoing members Tlou Masehela (University of Stellenbosch), Sindiso Chamane (University of KwaZulu-Natal) and Laura Danga (University of Pretoria).

Tlou served as the captain of the ship, co-ordinating the committee, while Sindi was co-responsible for E-Media, which includes the GSN website and social networks. Laura Danga took care of internal liaison, sending out daily emails to GSN members. Beate Hölscher, on behalf of SAEON, thanked and extended her gratitude to the outgoing committee members for their contribution in ensuring the smooth running of all GSN-related events and activities.

New committee members

The two newly elected committee members, Nasiphi Ntshanga (University of KwaZulu-Natal) and Olujimi Osidele (University of Venda) will now form part of a six-member GSN committee which includes Tercia Strydom (University of KwaZulu-Natal), Itumeleng Mabusa (University of the Free State), Victor Modiba (University of Venda) and Arrey Ivo Agbor (University of Venda), who will be serving their second and final term in office.

Committee members were assigned their respective roles to match the responsibilities and work load across the restructured portfolios:

  • Committee coordinator - Tercia Strydom
  • Internal liaison - Arrey Ivo Agbor and Victor Modiba
  • Marketing and E-Media - Itumeleng Mabusa and Jimmy Osidele
  • External Liaison - Nasiphi Ntshanga

Exciting new plans for 2015

Looking forward into the 2015 GSN activities, the committee brought several exciting ideas to the table towards keeping the GSN closely interlinked, active and vibrant. Some of these activities will require the endorsement and participation of the GSN members.

The committee would like to reach out more to the current members and work harder in expanding the network. This can be achieved through university and/or regional ‘meet and greet’ events aligned with research activities and environmental education outreach programmes of the various SAEON nodes.

The committee would like to encourage members and other interested students to look out for these events and to form part of all the exciting initiatives being planned.

Members invited to design slogan for new T-shirt

The GSN would like to mark its 10-year anniversary by launching special GSN T-shirts. Members will be given a platform to showcase their creative and artistic talents by contributing to the design of a slogan for the T-shirts that would do the GSN proud.

The winner of this competition will be duly acknowledged and rewarded with a yet-to-be-disclosed gift. Only members in good standing will be allowed to compete and, as a result, all members will be required to update their membership during the call.

Iconic annual Indibano conference

GSN events will not be complete without the iconic annual Indibano conference. This year’s Indibano is provisionally scheduled to take place in the first week of September. Delegates can look forward to sharing their research through standard conference presentations and posters, gaining useful skills through various workshops and excursions, and harnessing inspiration and knowledge through talks by South Africa’s prominent scientists.

The GSN remains committed to keeping all its members connected within the network and in promoting long-term environmental monitoring for a sustainable future. We wish all our members a great year ahead in their respective studies, projects and research.


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