KATHRYN VAN DEN BERG

The Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Study (STIAS) playedhost to the first ever PostdoctoralConference in the southern hemisphere.

Organised by the Postdoctoral Society Stellenbosch (PDS), the theme of the Postdoctoral Conference, was ‘100 years into the future’. It celebrated the success of research at Stellenbosch University (SU) over the past 100 years. The conference had a diverse program with a variety of discussions andworkshops presented from 3 to 5October. Part of these proceedings were oral sessions regarding, amongst others, “African History and Society” and “Technology, Biology and Agriculture”. Workshops on Food Security and Climate Smart Agriculture were also presented. Chairperson ofPDS, Dr Natasha Mothapo, saidthat “there has never been anything like this [Postdoctoral Conference] in the Southern Hemisphere.”

“The University is turning 100, and the goal of this conference was to gather the young minds in Southern Africa and deliberate issues that are affecting Africa.”Mothapo added that, because SU is turning 100, another central theme of the conference was the setting of goals for 100 years into the future. She said that it is vital that research take on “an interdisciplinary approach”, and consequently the research presented at the conference had “a focus on issues and challenges in Africa.”About the goals of PDS, Mothapo said: “We [PDS] are not students and not staff, so are in a grey area. The aim of the society, then, is to work on policies that better communication between administration and the postdoc students, and this has been the goal of the society for the past three years.”Mothapo, a student of the Botany and Zoology Department from her undergrad to her postdoctoral research, has been at SU since 2001. Dr Mothapo has dedicated her research to invasive ant species and their impact on the broader environment.

Photo: Stellenbosch University