Personal tools
You are here: Home eNewsletter Archives 2011 june2011 Dr Angus Paterson – (energetically) charting new waters
Research Infrastructures

EFTEON website

SAPRI Proposal

SMCRI website

Research Publications


OUTPUTS 2006-2017

Log in

Forgot your password?

NRF logo



Dr Angus Paterson – (energetically) charting new waters

SAEON’s Dr Angus Paterson has been promoted to Managing Director of the South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity (Picture: Mitzi du Plessis)
Flanked by members of the media, Angus raises a glass to the success of the research vessel uKwabelana at the launch of SAEON's Elwandle Node (Picture: Mitzi du Plessis)
Angus tells learners more about the coastal zone and the life forms it supports. His personal interest in Elwandle's education outreach programme ensured its success.  (Picture: SAEON Elwandle Node)
Angus prepares a Niskin bottle for deployment during the upwelling sampling pilot study (Picture: Johan Pauw)
- Johan Pauw, Managing Director, SAEON


Outgoing Manager of the SAEON Elwandle Node, Dr Angus Paterson has been promoted by the National Research Foundation to steer the South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity (SAIAB), which also functions as the host organisation for the Elwandle Node.

Therefore, while we are indeed sorry to lose this SAEON stalwart’s competence as a Node Manager, it offers some consolation that he will still be playing a significant role as Elwandle’s host.

Angus spent five remarkable years with SAEON. During this time he made significant progress, literally starting from an empty desktop. A coastal and inshore node for SAEON was merely a concept when he accepted the position of manager, but he was able to grow the node rapidly to become a respected landmark in the science landscape.

Starting a new SAEON Node is not a simple matter. Since Elwandle was only the second SAEON node to be established, it was an even greater challenge as SAEON itself was still in the early stages of conceptual development at the time. This meant that Angus did not receive much direction from SAEON management and was not able to benefit from a legacy of organisational experience.

"We wish Angus well in his new position. He has truly been an inspiration to all of us at SAEON."

Opening up new possibilities

Undaunted, Angus put forward ground-breaking proposals such as the establishment of a sentinel site in Algoa Bay. In those days, the idea of establishing core long-term monitoring sites was mainly a terrestrial concept. Angus literally took the core site idea underwater by successfully setting up an array of instrumentation to monitor the physical conditions of Algoa Bay’s waters.

From a management point of view, Angus excelled by stretching the small budget that he initially received to deliver maximum value. He quickly grew the node’s staff component with strategic appointments and rounded up a number of students in no time to associate with the node. Those students mainly brought their own funding, but a secondary advantage of this strategy was that their supervisors were roped in as well. In a very short space of time, the Algoa Bay Sentinel Site became a research platform for a network of student researchers and their supervisors, which is exactly what SAEON is mandated to do.

While focusing on the development of the Algoa Bay Sentinel Site, he also established a number of other dispersed long-term monitoring sites along the East Coast, as far north as Cape Vidal. All those sites require a substantial amount of diving and Angus put together a competent and fully equipped scientific diving team, complete with sea-going rubber duck. This diving team was a key strategy to opening up the possibilities and collaborative prospects of the SAEON Elwandle Node.

Community outreach and job creation

One of his special achievements was the three-person team of parataxonomists which he developed as a local community outreach and job creation effort. These physically handicapped Xhosa-speaking gentlemen were recruited and trained to identify living aquatic organisms as a support service to Elwandle’s own and some external research teams.

Under his leadership, Elwandle Node contributed some 23 journal papers and six book chapters. Several technical reports were delivered to various organisations for management information. Angus himself was a lead contributor in the Second National Communication to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, an important policy output for SAEON.

Education outreach

The Elwandle Node’s education outreach programme has been making a steady contribution to five schools’ science teaching through various activities with science teachers and Grade 9-11 learners. Angus obtained a sponsorship from Murray & Roberts for an innovative schoolyard programme which involves learners hands-on in the collation and analysis of climatic data at their schools. This programme has been so successful that it is currently being rolled out across the SAEON Nodes.

While I have highlighted some of the legacy that Angus leaves behind, I would like to make a final observation. It was his always prevailing sense of urgency that was key to his success. Angus finds it very hard to sit still – literally and figuratively. His formidable energy kept the kettle boiling at the Elwandle Node.

We wish Angus well in his new position. He has truly been an inspiration to all of us at SAEON.

Document Actions