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SAEON’s Graduate Student Network welcomes four new committee members

By Arrey Ivo, SAEON GSN External Liaison

The GSN Committee for 2014 with outgoing Committee Coordinator Melissa Boonzaaier. Front row, from left: Melissa Boonzaaier, Laura Danga, Sindiso Chamane, Itumeleng Mabusa and Tercia Strydom. Back row: Arrey Ivo, Tlou Masehela and Victor Modiba

SAEON's Graduate Student Network (GSN) has been strengthened by a new Coordfinating Committee of enthusiastic and dynamic students for the 2014-2016 cycle.


Outgoing Coordinator Melissa Boonzaaier’s sterling contribution to the network is acknowledged by Beate Hӧlscher (left), on behalf of SAEON, and the newly elected Coordinator Tlou Masehela (right), on behalf of the GSN

Tercia Strydom (University of KwaZulu-Natal), Itumeleng Mabusa (University of Limpopo), Victor Modiba (University of Venda), and Arrey Ivo (University of Venda) were recently elected as part of the committee.

Sindiso Chamane (University of KwaZulu-Natal), Laura Danga (University of Pretoria) and Tlou Masehela (University of Stellenbosch) will continue to serve their final term on the committee for 2014.

Melissa Boonzaaier, Manqhai Kraai and Tanja van de Ven are now retiring after serving their two-year term (2012/14). Their contribution to the GSN is gratefully acknowledged. Melissa, Manqhai and Tanja were responsible, among other things, for the implementation of the newly improved GSN logo and website.

For a second consecutive year, the committee will consist of seven members, as a tie of votes was recorded which led to four new committee members instead of the usual three. Thanks to the ever growing GSN!

On 17 March this year, the committee met at City Lodge Hotel, O. R. Tambo International Airport to welcome the newly elected committee members as well as to plan for this year’s activities. The new committee members were introduced to the GSN Constitution compiled six years ago when the GSN Committee was established. Thereafter, future activities for the GSN and portfolios were discussed.

A wave of change

GSN members can expect a "wave of change" this year, such as the regional meet-and-greet sessions where members can get to know one another in an informal environment. This came about due to the recognised gap of members meeting only during the annual Indibano conference and not within their own institution or town.

Jot this down ...

This takes us to an exciting event you may want to jot down in your diary: 5-7 September is the provisional date for this year’s 7th annual Indibano Conference, themed “Ecological monitoring leading to decision making”, which will be held at a venue to be announced. It is hoped that the Indibano will coincide with the 2nd Global Change Conference (GCC), which is held every two years. This year’s event will take place at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in Port Elizabeth. However, the planning of the GCC is still in its infancy, and more details will follow from SAEON.

Meet the new committee members

Here is a brief introduction to the 2014/15 committee members. Their full profiles are available on the GSN website.

  • Tlou Masehela (Committee Coordinator)
  • Sindiso Chamane (E-Media)
  • Victor Modiba (E-Media)
  • Laura Danga (Internal Liaison)
  • Arrey Ivo (External Liaison)
  • Tercia Strydom (Marketing)
  • Itumeleng Mabusa (Marketing)

The GSN committee wishes to extend its appreciation to all members who participated in the election as candidates and voters. Congratulations to all!

The new GSN Committee members

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Itumeleng Mabusa is pursuing an MSc in Microbiology at the University of Limpopo. Her project focuses on early stage drug discovery. She is using indigenous medicinal plants to find drug leads for development of anti-tubercular drugs to improve the treatment of tuberculosis.

Victor Modiba is currently enrolled for an MSc in Zoology at the University of Venda. His research interest is terrestrial and aquatic entomology.


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Tercia Strydom is a junior scientist at the Kruger National Park. She recently completed her MSc in Hydrology at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. Her research project focused on determining the effects of long-term fire treatments on soil hydrological and physical properties in semi-arid savannas in the Kruger National Park. Tercia will soon be commencing her PhD in hydrogeology.

Arrey Ivo is a Masters student at the University of Venda. His area of research is in hydrogeology with a focus on groundwater models. The title of his research project is Estimating groundwater recharge from infiltration in the vadose zone, a data integration and modelling approach: Case study in Nzhelele catchment.

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