The PCU attends the Grassland Society of Southern Africa (GSSA) Congress 2019

8 Jul 2019 - 08:30
Timm Hoffman won Faux Pas Award of the year (Photo credit: Clement Cupido)



Prof. Timm Hoffman (PCU Director) and Gina Arena (PhD student) attended and presented some of their research at the GSSA 2019 Congress from 30 June - 4 July. The congress was held in Upington in the Northern Cape during what felt like one of the coldest weeks this winter. Gina presented some of her data from her first thesis chapter on long-term vegetation changes in the eastern Karoo. Timm gave the closing keynote address on the long-term environmental monitoring programme in Riemvasmaak in the Northern Cape.

The conference was attended by close to 190 delegates within the fields of rangeland ecology and plant and pasture science. The programme was packed with parallel sessions for each, ranging in diverse research topics in the arid savannas, grassland, Karoo and desert rangelands, to invasive plant species, methods and monitoring in rangelands, cultivated pasture science, and feeding ecology. Other fascinating keynote addresses were given by international professors, Yohay Carmel from the Israel Institute of Technology, and Jesse Nippert from Kansas State University, as well as local experts A/Prof. Susi Vetter (Rhodes University), Prof. Klaus Kellner (North-West University), A/Prof. Ben Strohbach (Namibia University of Science and Technology) and senior researcher Iain Paterson (Rhodes University).

The congress also hosted field trips on the first day to Augrabies Falls, Kalahari farm, a solar energy farm, as well as a research skills workshop in R. The programme gave a generous amount of time to poster presentations which allowed the poster delegates to present their research in a less formal environment over tea and yummy snacks.

Congratulations to Timm on winning the Faux Pas Award of the year for accidentally, yet ironically, using the wrong year (2015) on the title slide of his keynote presentation! Congratulations also go to the new Vice President of the GSSA, Debbie Jewitt, conservation scientist at Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife.  Congratulations to all the other prize winners!

Gina says, “It was both inspiring, encouraging and fascinating to learn about the novel research that is being conducted by these experts and their students in very different environments. As a young aspiring scientist and academic, I was really encouraged when I saw how bold and confident one can be when it comes to testing novel hypotheses and doing research to resolve, sometimes the simplest, unanswered questions that seek to fill knowledge gaps. I have definitely come away with some new perspectives and fresh ways in which to approach my own work which has further renewed my enthusiasm and motivation to continue writing my doctoral thesis. Thank you to the GSSA for sponsoring my attendance and giving me a chance to meet so many new and interesting people.”


Article provided by Gina Arena.