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Global Change Conference showcases vital research into changing systems

By Leila Nefdt, DST-NRF Intern at SAEON Egagasini Node/ UWC Student
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DST/NRF intern Leila Nefdt attends the poster sessions at the Global Change Conference

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Leila enjoying the field trip to uShaka Marine World

Among other students and interns, I was given the opportunity to represent SAEON’s Egagasini Node at the 3rd DST/NRF National Conference on Global Change which was held in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal in December 2016.

The main purpose of this biennial conference is to bring together the diverse global change research community in South Africa in order to share recent progress across the broad scope of the global change programme, with a special focus on postgraduate students.

The first three days covered most of the student presentations and poster sessions, all related to global change. Several topics within this crucial field were investigated during the week’s conference, ranging from terrestrial ecology to marine and coastal ecology.

Throughout the event, we were given the option of participating in parallel sessions that focused on various science matters and the viewing of students’ posters. Each day we were presented with informative and interesting talks. With my main interest being in marine and coastal ecology and oceanography, I attended those sessions to find out more about current projects and to get an idea of potential projects that could originate from the conference.

The quality of work presented at the conference was brilliant. It was a great pleasure to witness the diligence and commitment displayed within South Africa’s young and older generations in making a positive contribution towards global change. The week’s highlights included the gala dinner on the second evening, where we were treated to fine dining, local artists and ended up dancing the night away.

Field trip

On the last day of the conference I chose the field trip to uShaka Marine World. It was my first visit to uShaka and on top of that, we got the opportunity to tour the beachfront promenade, the aquarium, the water park, the coral lab, watched the dolphin presentation and even sat in on a couple of Oceanographic Research Institute talks relating to oceans and climate change, conservation of beaches and marine life.

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Leila makes the most of networking opportunities at the gala dinner

Despite the limited time, the field trip gave us a perspective on the remarkable experience that uShaka provides to the community and, of course, to the marine world.

All in all the conference was a very worthwhile experience. I am grateful for the opportunity to network and learn from pioneers within the science community. I would like to thank my manager and mentors at SAEON Egagasini for granting me the opportunity to attend the conference.

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