MSc student

Amy Hoffenberg

Thesis topic: Using fossil diatoms to reconstruct the long-term history of water quality and climate change in the Berg River catchment, Cape Floristic Region of South Africa

Supervisors: A/Prof Lindsey Gillson and Cherie Forbes
Office: Room 5.02, HW Pearson Building



MSc in Conservation Biology (University of Cape Town); BSc (Hons) Applied Biology (University of Cape Town)

The main aim of the MSc project is to investigate changes in water quality over time (centennial timescales) through fossil diatom analysis of sediment cores from an upland conservation site and an lowland agricultural site in the Cape Floristic Region (CFR) with the goal of informing conservation and land-use management practices in the region.


Born and bred in Cape Town, my strong appreciation of nature and the organisms within it was forged over years of hiking on the slopes of Table Mountain and Lion’s Head and family holidays exploring the natural landscapes and ecosystems of southern Africa. This appreciation of the living world led me to begin my career as a budding biologist. I studied for my undergraduate degree in Applied Biology and Genetics at the University of Cape Town (UCT). For my Honours Degree in Applied Biology, also at UCT, I researched the temporal dynamics of surf-diatoms which accumulate forming dark patches at Muizenberg Beach, False Bay. I wish to harness the skills gained from the Conservation Biology Masters programme to ensure the protection of precious biodiversity, whilst balancing human interests. I hope to inspire people to feel connected to nature and believe that the survival of this planet depends on humans re-establishing this connection. I also hope to proactively play my part in protecting the living world. In my free time, I enjoy hiking, reading, listening to music, enjoying a good glass of wine and working as a part time singer.