#01 2022

Introducing the Graduate Student Network steering committee for 2022–23

By Buster Mogonong, External Communication Liaison, SAEON Graduate Student Network

SAEON’s original vision includes training of a new generation of South African scientists. The growth, impact and achievements of the SAEON Graduate Student Network (GSN) in the last ~16 years clearly indicate how that vision came to fruition under the patient, yet firm leadership of SAEON’s former managing director, Johan Pauw.  

On 1 February, the outgoing GSN steering committee and the new committee of passionate, enthusiastic and dynamic students for the 2022–23 cycle held a virtual induction under the guidance of Kogie Govender, SAEON’s Science Engagement Coordinator. After a round of SAEON ‘fact or fiction’, the new members were officially welcomed to the committee. The new members were taken through an overview of the GSN, its constitution and the committee portfolios.  

The new committee members are… 

Chairperson – PhD student Craig Mahlasi (Fynbos Node), succeeding Corianna Julie.

Vice-chairperson and Secretariat – MSc student Brishan Kalyan (Elwandle Node), succeeding Craig Mahlatsi.

Internal Stakeholder Communication – PhD student Tsumbedzo Ramalevha (Ndlovu Node), succeeding Marlize Muller.

External Stakeholder Communication – PhD student Buster Mogonong (Arid Lands Node), succeeding Amukelani Maluleke.

Website Management – MSc student Thobeka Nsibande (Grassland Node), succeeding Nasreen Burgher.

Indibano Logistics Coordinator – PhD student Tamryn Hamilton (EFTEON/SAEON National Office), succeeding Lindokuhle Dlamini.

The new position of Capacity Building Liaison is occupied by MSc student Gigi Birkett (Egagasini Node).

Incoming and outgoing GSN steering committee members. Top row, from left: Brishan Kalyan, Amukelani Maluleke, Tsumbedzo Ramalevha and Nasreen Burgher. Second row: Tamryn Hamilton, Marlize Muller, Corianna Julie and Craig Mahlasi. Third row: Gigi Birkett, Kogie Govender, Thobeka Nsibande and Buster Mogonong. Bottom row: Lindokuhle Dlamini (Photo: Amukelani Maluleke)

GSN overview and constitution

To ensure that the new members fully understand the GSN and its constitution, Corianna Julies (outgoing chairperson) gave an overview of the GSN, focusing on the previous two years (2020–21) and highlighting the challenges faced by the outgoing committee members and the lessons learned. She was followed by Craig Mahlasi (incoming chairperson), who presented the GSN constitution, focusing on what he called things to keep in mind for the incoming steering committee members.  

Portfolio overview  

Each member of the outgoing steering committee gave an overview of their portfolio, which gave the incoming members an idea of what their respective portfolios or roles entail. Outgoing members also highlighted the numerous opportunities awaiting the new committee members, which made them look forward to the learning journey they were about to embark on.

A wave of change…  

The incoming steering committee vowed to pick up where the outgoing committee left off. GSN members can expect a “wave of change” as the new committee continues to position the GSN as an important training hub of future South African Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) scientists.

As the new committee, we would like to thank the outgoing committee for their dedication and the excellence with which they have run each portfolio, not forgetting Kogie Govender for setting up, organising and coordinating the induction process.  

Statements from the new committee members 

~ Craig Mahlasi, 2022–23 GSN Chairperson

“I look forward to continuing the good work of past GSN steering committees in creating awareness among graduate students about SAEON and related organisations’ programmes. I hope that these programmes will reach more students. My wish is for a return to face-to-face Indibanos and Node activities.”

~ Brishan Kaylan, 2022–23 GSN Secretariat & Vice-Chairperson

“I look forward to trying to bridge the gap of science communication between peers, institutions and society while aiding in creating awareness of the importance of long-term ecological research for sustainability. Furthermore, I would like to generate awareness of what SAEON is, how it works and how the GSN can aid young upcoming scientists.”

~ Tamryn Hamilton, 2022–23 GSN Indibano Logistics Coordinator

“I look forward to being part of the team leading the SAEON Graduate Student Network. Most specifically, the chance to promote engagement within the scientific community that can act as career development and meaningful networking opportunities for early career scientists in South Africa.”

~ Tsumbedzo Ramalevha, 2022–23 GSN Internal Communication Liaison

“Looking forward to the journey. My wish is to increase GSN visibility in academic institutions around the Ndlovu Node, promote environmental awareness and science communication among graduate students and increase their participation in SAEON_GSN.”

~ Buster Mogonong, 2022–23 GSN External Communication Liaison

“Much appreciation for the opportunity to be part of this growing student network. My wish in this role is to see the SAEON GSN become known to as many students in various universities in South Africa as possible and have them engage with the GSN community.”

~ Thobeka Nsibande, GSN 2022–23 Website Management

“I am excited to be part of this committee and look forward to working with this team. Most specifically, the chance of introducing the GSN to my fellow graduates and learning different skills as a website manager, also improving my communication and leadership skills.”

~ Gigi Birkett, 2022–23 GSN Capacity Building Liaison

“I am excited to serve on this committee and look forward to working with such a dedicated team. I also am eager to be the first Capacity Building Liaison incumbent and to develop this position on the committee.”  

Get in touch with us  

Keep your eyes open for exciting opportunities and progress updates regarding Indibano 2022. Follow us on our Twitter page @SAEON_GSN and like the SAEON GSN Facebook page.

For more information about the GSN activities and how to become a member, visit our website: gsn.dirisa.org