Congratulations to Dr Estelle Razanatsoa

19 Jul 2019 - 11:15
(Left to right) Dr Estelle Razanatsoa, Tsilavo Razafimanantsoa (PCU PhD student) and A/Prof. Lindsey Gillson



Plant Conservation Unit (PCU) Ph.D. student Estelle Razanatsoa graduated from the University of Cape Town (UCT) on Friday 12 July 2019. Estelle was supervised by Associate Prof. Lindsey Gillson (PCU), Dr. Stephan Woodborne (iThemba Lab, Johannesburg) and Dr Malika Virah-Sawmy (Geography Department, Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences, Humboldt-Universitat zu Berlin).


Her Ph.D. research focused on the impact of climate change and human land use on the tropical dry forest in southwest Madagascar. Estelle undertook pioneer research in Madagascar where she reconstructed rainfall for the region using isotope content in baobab rings and added vegetation records for the dry forest ecosystem in southwest Madagascar for the last 2000 years. From her analysis, she found that along the region, each ecosystem has responded differently to both agropastoralism and desiccation over time. However, at the near-present period, areas with more fertile soils and higher water availability are more impacted by human activities: a conclusion that could help in planning future conservation strategies in these dry areas while thinking of alternative livelihoods for local communities.


Estelle reflects on her Ph.D. journey, saying that "Ph.D. students go through so many challenges during their journey. Mine started quite early as at the time I was accepted to register for a Ph.D., I was pregnant. My first challenge was the choice of moving to Cape Town and leaving my 3-month old son and my husband (in picture) in Madagascar. But yes, I did it and now my little boy is 4 years old and my husband is conducting a Ph.D. at the Plant Conservation Unit at UCT.  Over the years, I saw my confidence growing which I owe to the guidance and advice of three wonderful experts in the field that I profoundly acknowledge. I have learned so much through this journey and would use my story to encourage the younger generation, especially girls, to follow their dreams as they can achieve anything through faith, perseverance and love.”


We would like to congratulate Dr. Estelle Razanatsoa on this fantastic accomplishment and wish her well in her future endeavours. Estelle currently holds a post-doctoral position at the PCU, supervised by A/Prof Lindsey Gillson. Her current research focuses on building a vegetation dynamic model that would allow to assess and simulate the response of the dry forest in Madagascar to scenarios of climate, human land use and fire.