December -The end of year is almost upon us and we are in the process of wrapping up an exciting 2017. I'll post some reflections, successes and a look to 2018 in the next couple of days. -A few weeks ago I was approached by MEAM (Marine Ecosystems and Management) to contribute to their newsletter focussing on the integration of molecular tools into conservation planning. You can read the newsletter, including my contribution here. -Thrilled for Lisa Mertens for receiving a NRF Extension scholarship to see her through to the end of her PhD. Thank you NRF - Lisa is an amazing candidate with an awesome project and very deserving!
October -It has been a while on the updates, but we have had some exciting times. Nikki and Sophie went off to the WIOMSA conference in Dar Es Salaam, both presenting their talks. Nikki spoke about the genomic basis of adaptation for Zostera capensis and Sophie highlighted the merits of eDNA for biodiversity studies in Africa.
-We are thrilled that we will be welcoming Dr Alicia Dalongeville to the lab soon. Alicia was awarded a prestigious Claude Leon Foundation postdoctoral fellowship and will be working on the eDNA of seagrass communities in southern and eastern Africa.
-PhD student Molly Czachur was awarded a small research grant by the Fisheries Society of the British Isles to provide support for her work on the eDNA of South African fish communities. Very well done Molly!
-Also huge CONGRATULATIONS to Nozi Mbongwa for successfully defending her MSc thesis - we look forward to graduation Nozi!
-And finally, it is with a teary eye that we bid farewell to our wonderful Romina Henriques, who has been so instrumental in developing our lab and its science in the past four years. We will miss her terribly, but also wish her the very, very best for her next adventure in Denmark.
August -We were awarded a Newton Mobility Grant for two years to support exchanges between the von der Heyden and Creer labs. This is super cool and involves lab members heading off to Wales (hoping for good weather again) and also a small workshop on eDNA here in South Africa. Thank you to the Royal Society's Newton Fund for supporting our work. You can find out more about them here.
- A HUGE CONGRATULATIONS to Genevieve for successfully defending her PhD. Gen has been working on the genetic and morphological aspects of freshwater Small-mouth bass, Micropterus dolomieu. Looking forward to congratulating another Dr at graduation at the end of the year (and of course seeing some cool papers come out of her work).
July -Started with a bang. Romina Henriques was awarded Best Young Researcher by SANCOR and was awarded this prestigious prize at the recent SAMSS conference held in PE. This award highlight excellence in marine research in southern Africa by young scientist and is awarded every three years. The award was more than well deserved as Romina has made an impressive contribution to not only our lab, but by flying the molecular flag for fisheries management. We are all very proud!
June - We welcomed a new PhD student, Molly Czachur, to the lab. Molly is using eDNA to monitor South African marine fish biodiversity!
- For World Oceans Day, Sophie authored a short piece for The Conversation and then ended up giving eight radio and one TV interview. Was great fun!
We were hosting the DipNet workshop on integrating genetic and genomic tools with conservation planning and management. There were over 40 participants from within South Africa, from Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique and Mauritius. Thank you to Michelle Gaither, Eric Treml, Oscar Gaggiotti, Maria Beger and Eric Treml for bringing their skills and expertise to South Africa.
May - We are starting with our very exciting eDNA work. Planning is very much in progress and we are hoping to collect our first samples soon!
April - CONGRATULATIONS to Olivier Pasnin who successfully presented his planned PhD entitled "A genetic approach to the conservation of marine sponges in the Western Indian Ocean, with emphasis on the Mascarene Archipelago". Olivier definitely wins the most picturesque PhD proposal award and was inundated with offers of field work!
- Another CONGRATULATIONS to our new Honours student, Oliver Hansen, who also gave a great presentation on his planned Honours work on paleoclimatic modelling of seabird habitat in southern Africa. Great stuff!
March 2017 - Two NEW PAPERS from the von der Heyden lab; Romina writes on the population structure of kingklip in southern Africa and Erica on genetic metrics for systematic conservation planning. Go to the publications page to find out more....
February 2017 - Fabulous news from the von der Heyden lab; both Erica and Jess will be graduating with distinctions for their MSc projects. So proud of their achievements and wishing them both all the best for their futures....
- WELCOME also to Melissa Schulze, who is returning for her MSc on the fine-scale population structure of kingklip in southern Africa. Her project title is "Assessment of genomic diversity and population sub-structuring of kingklip (Genypterus capensis) off southern Africa."
January 2017 - 2016 was a great year and ended up with the news of two new grants awarded to the lab. This year we are setting off on adventures new into environmental DNA of estuarine and coastal systems (see the 'Want to join us?' page for more details). We also have a SA-Namibia collaboration with Dr Hillke Ndjaula at the University of Namibia on the genetics of exploited hakes and kingklip in the Benguela Current. Thank you to NRF in South Africa for funding both these projects.
December 2016 - CONGRATULATIONS to Casey, who graduated with a distinction for his MSc. We'll be sad to see you go!
November 2016 - NEW PAPER: Erica's first chapter from her MSc has just been accepted by Conservation Biology - well done!
- CONGRATULATIONS to Erica, who gave a fantastic MSc defence and received cum laude for her efforts. Super cool research on the integration of genetic metrics into Marxan!
- NEW PAPER: Romina's paper on kingklip genetic structure is in press with Fisheries Research!
- CONGRATULATIONS to Casey, who gave a fantastic MSc defence and also received cum laude. Turns out our humble clinids are not that humble after all, but have quite distinct personalities! Casey also received an OVERAL CUM LAUDE for his project and will graduate in December. Well done Casey, we are very proud!
October 2016 - AND ANOTHER NEW PAPER....with a distinctly different flavour. Sophie led a team of co-authors discussing the gap between science and policy; assessing some of the problems and helping to find solutions. This one was a real challenge! Look out for it as OA in the next issue of the South African Journal of Science.
- Congratulations to Nikki Phair who successfully presented her PhD proposal on seagrass genomics - looking forward to a great project!
- ANOTHER NEW PAPER: great news - Romina's paper "Spatio-temporal genetic structure and the effects of long-term fishing in two partially sympatric offshore demersal fishes" has been accepted for publication in Molecular Ecology. Great happiness and well done Romina!
- NEW PAPER: Sophie's paper entitled "Making evolutionary history count: biodiversity planning for coral reef fishes and the conservation of evolutionary processes is in press with Coral Reefs. - The latest WIOMSA (Western Indian Ocean Marine Sciences Association) newsbrief is out, with contributions from Nikki and Sophie. Nikki provided a summary of her MSc research on Zostera capensis and its future under climate change, whereas Sophie reported back on attending the Fisheries Society of the British Isles meeting in Wales earlier this year. You can download the newsletter here: http://www.wiomsa.org/latest-wiomsa-newsbrief-published/