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The GSN spreads its wings out wide

By Athi Mfikili, External Liaison, SAEON Graduate Student Network
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Professor Nox Makunga, a plant biotechnologist from Stellenbosch University and a seasoned science communicator, is one of the invited speakers for the GSN Indibano

Since the appointment of the new steering committee, SAEON’s Graduate Student Network (GSN) has spread its wings out wide through various interactive node activities.

Towards the end of June, the Elwandle Node kicked off its GSN seminar series, which takes place at the Nelson Mandela University’s Ocean Sciences Campus every second Friday.

Talks given so far include, “Applying a systems dynamics approach to support marine spatial planning in Algoa Bay, South Africa” by Estee Vermeulen, a PhD candidate at Nelson Mandela University, and “Understanding resource partitioning in three species of Gobiidae living in the warm-temperate Sundays estuary” by Phumza Ndaleni, a PhD candidate at the South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity and Rhodes University. The series has been attended by students and scientists from various disciplines and is expected to play a meaningful role in the development of postgraduate students into emerging scientists.

The Arid Lands Node has successfully conducted introductory presentations at the Sol Plaatje University and the University of the Free State’s Bloemfontein campus. The presentations were aimed at building relationships between the two universities and the GSN. Although the turnout was small (in terms of numbers), the students and lecturers who attended declared themselves willing to foster and champion this newly established relationship. 

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Juan Swanepoel, deputy chairperson of the GSN steering committee, addresses the audience during the Arid Lands Node information session at Sol Plaatje University

Athi Mfikili (R) introduces PhD candidate Phumza Ndaleni ahead of her presentation at the Elwandle Node’s GSN seminar                         


Meanwhile, preparations for the 11th Indibano are at an advanced stage. The GSN has received 89 abstracts for what promises to be yet another momentous transdisciplinary postgraduate symposium. With this year’s Indibano being hosted by one of SAEON’s terrestrial nodes at the Wits Rural Facility in Limpopo near the Kruger National Park, the GSN received 37 abstracts focusing on the terrestrial environment, 13 focusing on freshwater environments and six apiece on atmospheric and marine research.

Invited guests include Professor Nox Makunga, a plant biotechnologist from Stellenbosch University; Charles Kuzmanich, a brand and communication strategist; and Dr Marina Joubert, a science communication researcher who will contribute to the theme, “Selling your science, selling yourself”.

The GSN would like to thank everyone who submitted abstracts for consideration. The selection of the final abstracts was a difficult one due to the high level of competitiveness as well as the limited space for the conference.

The GSN would like to encourage its members who were not selected to participate in the Indibano to be on the lookout for other node-specific mini-symposia.

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Facebook: SAEON GSN
Twitter: @SAEON_GSN

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