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SAEON Networks

SAEON Graduate Student Network is launched with a bang

- Dr Silvia Mecenero, SAEON postdoctoral student and Convenor of the Graduate Student Network Committee

The SAEON Graduate Student Network (GSN) was launched by the Deputy Minister of Science and Technology, Mr Derek Hanekom during a banquet held as part of the SAEON Summit proceedings. Mr Hanekom stressed that the future of Earth observation science lay in the hands of the youth, and that the GSN would provide a valuable platform for emerging young environmental scientists. It was a real privilege for the GSN to be recognised from such a high level.

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These people all contributed to the success of the first workshop organised by SAEON's Graduate Student Network - the Interim committee of the GSN, invited speakers, and the students themselves. (Picture © SAEON)
Dr Bob Scholes of the CSIR gave an informative and entertaining talk on the value and philosophy of environmental science. (Picture © Mitzi du Plessis)
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Mr Derek Hanekom, Deputy Minister of Science and Technology, receives a gift from Glynn Alard on behalf of the SAEON Graduate Student Network - a small, square, self-sustaining forest ecosystem. (Picture © Mitzi du Plessis)
Teas and lunch provided opportunities for students to network amongst each other and with the speakers. (Picture © Mitzi du Plessis)

A representative of the GSN, Silvia Mecenero, responded to the minister by giving a brief history of the GSN, its aims and future initiatives. Glynn Alard and Bernard Coetzee, also of the GSN, presented the minister with a gift on behalf of the GSN - a small, square, self-sustaining forest ecosystem.

Later in the evening, the awards to the three winners of the student poster competition were handed out. Congratulations to Graham Paul (1st), Anthony Swemmer (2nd), and Shaazia Bhailall (3rd)!

First GSN Workshop

Altogether 37 students, representing a wide variety of universities across the country attended the first GSN workshop.

Six invited speakers provided interactions with the students:

  • Dr Bob Scholes (CSIR) started the day with an informative and entertaining talk on the value and philosophy of environmental science.
  • Marina Joubert (Southern Science) followed with a presentation on communicating science to various sectors of the public.
  • Avinash Chuntharpursat (SAEON) and Dr Richard Knight (University of the Western Cape) delved into ecoinformatics and information systems.
  • Dr Dave Balfour (SAEON) gave an overview of the SAEON Ndlovu Node, which he manages.
  • Sibongile Mokoena (SAEON) ended the day with a stimulating, interactive talk about science education to young scientists and school-going children.

The workshop was concluded with a discussion and survey session on the day's success and future network needs. The workshop proved to be valuable and well-received by all students.

Overall, the first workshop of the GSN was deemed a great success, and plans have been initiated for a second workshop later in the year.

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