The Future of the Natural Science Profession

Prof Robin Crewe
Dr Engela van Staden
Dr Matshidiso Matabane
Mr Butana Mboniswa
Prof Bettine Jansen Van Vuuren
Prof Nelson Torto

Dr Engela van Staden

Dr Engela van Staden is the Deputy Vice Chancellor for Teaching, Learning and Community Engagement at SefakoMakgatho Health Sciences University. She was the Chief Director in the Department of Higher Education and Training responsible for inter alia human resource development for the higher education system, enrolment planning, establishing the new universities and new entities such as the SA Maritime Institute, academic programme management, planning the national information and application service known as the CAS, distance learning, demerger of the University of Limpopo, establishing SMU as the third new University, developing the reporting regulations and analyzing the universities financial annual reports and annual performance plans. One of her responsibilities as a project manager was the planning of the function shift of the Agricultural colleges and the Nursing Colleges.

She was involved in various National and International projects, either as a member or project leader, where the projects contributed to Middle Management Capacity Building, Institutional restructuring, Curriculum development, Quality assurance, Strategic planning, and Information Technology Improvement and the development of performance indicators for the UoT sector.

She presented various key note addresses and papers at national and international conferences with specific focus inter alia on Globalization of Higher Education; Planning within the transformation phase of higher education; Funding and resourcing higher education, Quality risks in the merger process; Transformation from a Teaching and Learning perspective.

She started her career as a high school teacher in Physical Science, Biology and Mathematics in Mogali city / Krugersdorp and was seconded as Acting Deputy Principal to the Johannesburg College of Education – Gifted child centre during this period. She became a Senior Lecturer in Natural Science Education at the then Technikon Northern Gauteng in Soshanguve and later the Dean of the Faculty of Education. Thereafter her career changed to Strategic and Institutional Planning which was necessary in terms of the merger of Technikon Northern Gauteng, Technikon North West and Technikon Pretoria, which became the Tshwane University of Technology.

Many plans, policies and technical reports, from an academic, national and institutional perspective have been produced through her pen.

Dr Matshidiso Matabane

Dr Matshidiso Matabane (Pr. Sci. Nat) is the Information Officer at the South African Council for Natural Scientific Professions (SACNASP). She recently graduated for her PhD at University of Limpopo. She graduated for MTech Degree in Agriculture at Central University of Technology (Cum Laude) in 2012. Moreover, she received the Vice-Chancellor’s award for the best post graduate student at Central University of Technology and the S2A3 award in 2012. She has presented at national and international conferences as well as published in peer reviewed journals. She also supervised post graduate students at various universities.

Mr Butana Mboniswa

Butana Mboniswa is a Director at Inqaba Biotechnical Industries (Pty) Ltd, and previously a Scientist at AECI and CSIR. InqabaBiotec is a Life Sciences company based in Pretoria, with subsidiaries in East and West Africa. The company provides biotechnology services and employs Scientists and technicians. Butana is also a Board Member at the Black Science, Technology and Engineering Professionals (BSTEP), a not-for-profit organization that promotes Science, Technology, Engineering, Innovation and Mathematics in communities across South Africa.

Prof Bettine Jansen Van Vuuren

A major goal in the biodiversity sciences is to understand spatial and temporal patterns and processes of biotic diversity across hierarchical levels, from genetic diversity to ecosystems. This has become particularly critical in the face of rapid environmental change, the threat posed by biological invasions as well as biodiversity loss.

Highest qualification: PhD

Fields of research: Molecular Ecology, Wildlife Conservation

Lecturing (Modules with a short description): Zoo 33A3 – Ecology. In this module we study biology diversity across different hierarchical levels, and the processes that shape the observed patterns

Research focus: Conservation genetics and invasion biology. Most of my work falls within two geographic regions: (a) The south-western arid zone of southern Africa and, (b) Southern Oceanic Islands, specifically the Prince Edward Island group.

List of selected publications: 

  1. Tensen, L., Groom, R.J., van Belkom, J., Davies-Mostert, H.T., Marnewick, K., Jansen van Vuuren, B. 2016. Genetic diversity and spatial genetic structure of African wild dogs (Lycaon pictus) in the Greater Limpopo transfrontier conservation area. Conservation Genetics 17:785-794.
  2. Karsten, M., Addison, P., Jansen van Vuuren, B., Terblanche, J.S. 2016. Investigating population differentiation in a major African agricultural pest: evidence from geometric morphometrics and connectivity suggests high invasion potential. Molecular Ecology 25:3019-3032.
  3. Bergstrom, D.M., Bricher, P.K., Raymond, B., Terauds, A., Doley, D., McGeoch. M.A., Whinam, J., Glen. M., Yuan, Z., Kiefer, K., Shaw, J.D., Bramely-Alves, J., Rudman, T., Mohammed, C., Lucieer, A., Visoiu, M., Jansen van Vuuren, B., Ball, M.C. 2015. Rapid collapse of a sub-Antarctic alpine ecosystem: the role of climate and pathogens. Journal of Applied Ecology 52: 774-783.
  4. Karsten, M., Jansen van Vuuren, B., Addison, P., Terblanche, J.S. 2015. Deconstructing intercontinental invasion pathway hypotheses of the Mediterranean fruit fly (Ceratitis capitata) using a Bayesian inference approach: are port interceptions and quarantine protocols successfully preventing new invasions? Diversity and Distributions 21: 813-825.
  5. Hassanin, A., Hugot, J.-P., Jansen van Vuuren, B. 2015. Comparason of mitochondrial genome sequences of pangolins (Mammalia, Pholidota). Comptes Rendus Biologies 338: 260-265.
  6. Kruger, S., Wesche, P., Jansen van Vuuren, B. 2015. Genetic structure in the Bearded Vulture Gypaetus barbatus: Reduced diversity in Southern Africa. Ibis 157: 162-166.
  7. Visser, J.H., Bennett, N., Jansen van Vuuren, B. 2014. Local and regional scale genetic variation in the Cape dune mole-rat, Bathyergus suillusPlos One 9(9): e107226.
  8. Montgelard, C., Zenboudji, S., Ferchaud, A.-L., Arnal, V., Jansen van Vuuren, B. 2014. Landscape genetics in mammals. Mammalia 78: 139-157.
  9. Du Toit, N., Jansen van Vuuren, B., Matthee, S., Matthee, C.A. 2013. Biogeography and host-related factors trump parasite life history: limited congruence among the genetic structures of specific ectoparasitic lice and their rodent hosts. Molecular Ecology 22: 5185-5204.
  10. Berthouly-Salazar, C., Hui, C., Blackburn, T.M., Gaboriaud, C., van Rensburg, B.J., Jansen van Vuuren, B. & Le Roux, J.J. 2013. Long-distance dispersal maximizes evolutionary potential during rapid geographic range expansion. Molecular Ecology 22: 5793-5804.
  11. Barnaud, A., Kalwij, J. M., McGeoch, M.A., Jansen van Vuuren, B. Accepted. Patterns and pathways of weed invasion: evidence from the spatial genetic structure of Raphanus raphanistrum. Biological Invasions 15: 2455-2465.
  12. Barnaud, A., Kalwij, J., Berthouly-Salazar, C., McGeoch, M. A., Jansen van Vuuren, B. 2013. Are road verges corridors for weed invasion? Insights from the fine scale spatial genetic structure of Raphanus raphanistrum. Weed Research 53: 362-369.
  13. Smitz, N., Berthouly, C., Cornelis, D., Heller, R., Van Hooft, W. F., Chardonnet, P., Prins, H.H.T., Jansen van Vuuren, B., De Jongh, H.H., Michaux, J.R. 2013. Pan-African genetic structure in the African buffalo: Investigating subspecies divergence. PLoS One 8(2): e56235.
  14. Karsten, M., Jansen van Vuuren, B., Barnaud, A., Terblanche, J.S. 2013. How wide is wide enough in an area-wide pest management program? Lessons from the population genetics of the Mediterranean fruit fly Ceratitis capitata in South Africa. Plos One 8(1): e54281.
  15. Proco, D., Bedos, A., Greenslade, P., Janion, C., Skarżyński, D., Stevens, M., Jansen van Vuuren, B., Deharveng, L. 2012. Challenging species delimitation in Collembola: cryptic diversity among common springtails unveiled by DNA barcoding. Invertebrate Systematics 26: 470–477.
  16. Du Toit, N., Jansen van Vuuren, B., Matthee, S., Matthee, C.A. 2012. Biome specificity of distinct genetic lineages within the four-striped mouse Rhabdomys pumilio (Rodentia: Muridae) from southern Africa with implications for taxonomy. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 65: 75-86.
  17. Berthouly-Salazar, C., Cassey, P., Jansen van Vuuren, B., Janse van Rensburg, B., Hui, C., Gardner, M.G., Le Roux, J.J. 2012. Development and characterization of 13 new, and cross amplification of 3, polymorphic nuclear microsatellite loci in the Common Myna (Acridotheres tristis). Conservation Genetics Resources 4: 621-624.
  18. Berthouly-Salazar, C., Janse van Rensburg, B., Le Roux, J.J., Jansen van Vuuren, B., Hui, C. 2012.Spatial sorting drives morphological variation in the invasive bird, Acridotheris tristis. PloS one 7 (5), e38145.
  19. Born, C., Le Roux, P.C., Spohr, C., McGeoch, M.A., Jansen van Vuuren, B. 2012Plant dispersal in the sub-Antarctic inferred from anisotropic genetic structure.  Molecular Ecology 21: 184-194.
  20. Mortimer, E., Jansen van Vuuren, B., Meiklejohn, K.I., Chown, S.L. 2012. Phylogeography of a mite, Halozetes fulvus, reflects the landscape history of a young volcanic island in the sub-Antarctic. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 105: 131-145.

Prof Nelson Torto

Nelson Torto is the Executive Director of the African Academy of Sciences (AAS), a pan African organisation which  drives sustainable development in Africa through science technology and innovation.

Prior to joining the AAS, he was the founding CEO of the Botswana Institute for Technology Research and Innovation (BITRI), which values cocreation and empathy. He was the Head of Chemistry at Rhodes University, and Associate Professor  at the University of Botswana. He is a recipient of several international awards, has served in various capacities in African and international networks and organisations as well as editorial boards.

Prof Robin Crewe

Prof. Robin Crewe is a Senior Research Fellow in the Centre for the Advancement of Scholarship and a member of the Social Insects Research Group in the Department of Zoology and Entomology at the University of Pretoria. He has worked for many years on chemical communication and social organization in a variety of social insects. His current research is on honey bee social organization and population dynamics with a view to ensuring that this biological resource can be used sustainably into the future for the supply of bee products and to provide pollination services.  He is a member of the Academy of Science of South Africa, a fellow of the African Academy of Science, and a fellow of the World Academy of Science. He received the Gold Medal of the Academy of Science of South Africa in 2013. He is a past president of the Academy of Science of South Africa and of the Network of African Science Academies (NASAC) and currently serves on the councils of NASAC and the World Academy of Science (TWAS). He is co-chairing the IAP study “Harnessing Science, Engineering and Medicine to address Africa’s challenges”.

The South African Council of Natural Scientific Professions (SACNASP) is a statutory Council responsible for the registration of professional scientists. A survey was undertaken to assess the contribution by Voluntary Associations (VA’s) and affiliated registered scientists towards the realisation of national development imperatives within the National Systems of Innovation (NSI) framework. It outlined the key activities of the VA’s and the challenges included funding constraints, policy coordination, demographic transformation, quality of natural science at the basic education level, recognition and knowledge development.

Recommendations that relate directly to SACNASP as a regulatory body included enhancing efficiency of a coherent registration and database management system across all VA’s, supporting the development of natural science educators through targeted initiatives by VA’s and enhancing public exposure to the natural sciences for better recognition through strategic initiatives. The report further recommended that government should provide funding for VA’s and the natural science profession and ensure a more effective education management system for rural and township schools. Industry and key stakeholders also have a critical role to play through funding of targeted initiatives such as bursaries, scholarships and workplace integrated learning. The key deliverable of this session is to develop an action plan for adoption by key stakeholders from the perspective of addressing the National Development Plan.