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Meet SAEON's new technician - Kent Lawrence

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Kent Lawrence’s research interests lie in the evaluation, monitoring and remediation of anthropogenic impacts to ecosystems and their environments

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Kent admires the fire team’s handiwork (Picture: Sue Janse van Rensburg)

In April this year, Kent Lawrence joined the SAEON Grasslands-Forest-Wetland Node where he is responsible for the maintenance of the research infrastructure, data flows and the expansion of the instrument array.

"From a very young age growing up along the northern KZN coast, I have had the privilege of experiencing nature first hand," he says.

Research interests

His interest in nature grew into a passion for biology and the environment, which ultimately led him into following a career in the natural sciences.

"My research interests lie in the evaluation, monitoring and remediation of anthropogenic impacts to ecosystems and their environments, especially in a hydrological sense, as water is the most impacted and threatened resource in South Africa,” he explains.

Kent obtained a first class MSc in aquatic ecology focusing specifically in estuarine ecology at the Department of Zoology, University of Zululand. His MSc project looked at the zooplankton community structures of polluted and unpolluted canalised estuary remnants in the Richards Bay Harbour, and their correlations with environmental variables such as physico-chemical water nutrients and heavy metals.

Prior to joining SAEON, he was a research technician for the University of Zululand’s Coastal Research Unit of Zululand (CRUZ). During this time he got to work on many coastal lakes, rivers and estuaries along the Zululand coast, collecting data on fish, invertebrates and environmental variables.

Kent has moreover been involved in preliminary ecological studies for environmental consultancies within the Richards Bay Harbour, looking at the impacts and rehabilitation of polluted estuarine systems. His inland skipper’s license and extensive field experience of the St Lucia system will no doubt benefit the SAEON programmes within the area.

Kent has an unusual hobby - with over 15 years of experience with reptiles, specifically snakes, he ran a reptile rescue service in Zululand for many years. 

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Attending the recent technical training workshop hosted by the Grasslands-Forests-Wetlands Node at Cathedral Peak - from left: Margaret Koopman, data librarian, SAEON Fynbos Node; Marco Pauw, field technician, SAEON Arid Lands Node (seated), SAEON hydro-meteorologist, Prof. Colin Everson and Kent Lawrence (seated) (Picture: Sue Janse van Rensburg)

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