December 2018 -CONGRATULATIONS to Nikki who received her PhD and is now officially Dr Phair. Nikki is staying on for 2019 and will be leading projects on seagrass metabarcoding and genomics!
November 2018 -We had amazing news of funding through the NRF: our proposal "Project SeaStore: integrated research to support seagrass restoration and to build estuarine resilience in South Africa" was funded. This will allow us to carry out research on transcriptomic and functional diversity, as well as responses to climate stressors in the ecosystem engineer Z. capensis. It also means that we will have a new postdoctoral fellow, two PhD, one MSc and one Honours student joining us in the next couple of years, - Erica and Sophie attended the Conservation Symposium in the KZN Midlands, where they gave unique insights into conservation planning with evolutionary data, specifically for marine systems. Although there was lots of talk on rhinos, we were excited to see the growth of conservation genetics in South Africa.
October 2018 -Congratulations to Nikki Phair who successfully completed her PhD on seagrass genomics. Well done Dr Phair! -We say farewell to Dr Alicia Dalongeville, as she heads for the Philippines to head up a scientific and volunteer research programme! Thank you for a really great few months in South Africa Alicia. August 2018 -Sophie is now an Associate Editor for Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science! -Erica and Sophie are off to the Symposium of Contemporary Conservation Practice in the KZN Midlands in November. Both will be giving talks about their work on integrating molecular ecology into conservation planning.
May 2018 -A warm welcome to Veronica Mendoza, a PhD student from Mexico working on the genomics of Seriola rivoliana, the Almaco jack. Her supervisory team are Francisco Garcia de Leon, David Portnoy, Fausto Valenzuela Quinonez, Miguel Angel de Rio Portilla and Sophie... -We also had a host of new papers accepted or published, more on the publications page!
April 2018 -Congratulations also to Nikki Phair and Lisa Mertens, who both obtained prestigious travel grants to attend international conferences. Nikki will be attending the World Seagrass Conference in Singapore, whereas Lisa is headed to the World Conference on Marine Biodiversity in Montreal. Great stuff! - Congratulations to Erica, who won second prize in the 'Rising Star' award for her paper 'Multispecies genetic objectives in spatial conservation planning', published last year in the journal Conservation Biology. The award considers all student-led papers published in Conservation Biology and recognizes outstanding contributions from student researchers. Well done Erica! - Congratulations also to Nozi Mbongwa, who graduated from her MSc on the phylogeographic patterns and conservation of sandy beach species in southern Africa.
February 2018 - The Foundational Biodiversity Information Programme ran an article on our kingklip research (which was funded through the SeaKeys programme). The link to their article is here. - Lisa is going to the World Conference on Marine Biodiversity in Montreal. She had her abstract accepted for an oral presentation on the physiological and genomic plasticity of South African intertidal invertebrates! Well done Lisa. - CONGRATULATIONS to Mel on having her first paper accepted in the Journal of Fish Biology!
December 2017 -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. UPDATE - you can check out our FB page for a summary of 2017. -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 2017 -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 2017 -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. -Erica's paper on conservation planning and genetic metrics is out in Conservation Biology. - 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). - Sophie and Nikki are heading off to the 10th Scientific Symposium of the Western Indian Ocean Sciences Association. Looking forward to our trip to Dar-Es-Salaam!
July 2017 -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 2017 - 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 2017 - 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 2017 - 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/