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Research Assistant

Sam Jack

MSc (Cape Town)

PCU Research Assistant (2013-2017)




Sam's broader research interests lie in the fields of spatial ecology and environmental change, with a specific focus on vegetation change, indicator species and long term monitoring. He is interested in understanding both the rates and causes of change and in using this knowledge to inform evidenced-based conservation. He also has a keen interest in developing methods and techniques that make it easier for conservationists and land managers to establish and maintain their own monitoring programmes. When not out in the field gathering data, Sam relishes adventurous pursuits like hiking, rock climbing, kloofing, kayaking and mountain biking.

Chilly start to the day on a recent fieldwork trip to the Drakensberg

Sam has a long standing connection with the Biological Sciences Department and the Plant Conservation Unit in particular. After completing his undergraduate degree in Environmental & Geographical Science and Ecology in 2005, and his Honours in Botany in 2006, Sam conducted local and international fieldwork for Assoc. Prof Ed February and Lindsey Gillson. In 2008 he started a MSc degree with Prof Timm Hoffman investigating the suitability of A. dichotoma as a climate change sentinel in southern Africa. The project involved an ambitious data gathering component in Namibia and the Northern Cape. Findings were presented at both local and international conferences and the degree was awarded with a distinction in 2011. Since 2012, Sam’s role in the PCU has been to lead data gathering efforts, expand the Unit’s repeat photograph collection and supervise student projects. A notable recent data gathering expedition led by Sam was the first continuous source-to-sea ecological census for the Senqu and Gariep Rivers ( To date Sam has co-supervised five student projects, two of which were recently awarded a first (BSc Hons) and a distinction (MSc), respectively. His plans for the remained of the year involve ongoing supervision and support for three student projects, a publication and book chapter and further building the Unit’s repeat photo database.

As of September 2017, Sam is following his passion for adventure by taking a year-long cycle trip from Cape Town to Australia. We will be following Sam closely on his travels and wish him all the best!