#01 2024

Mountain meets seas: Graduate Student Network host 15th Indibano in Cape Town

By Buster Mogonong, External Communication Liaison, Graduate Student Network

NRF-SAEON’s Graduate Student Network (GSN) hosted their 15th annual Indibano in Cape Town, in what was an inspiring week of learning and knowledge sharing between students and invited guest speakers.

Exploring environmental interactions  

With its theme of “Mountain meets seas: Exploring environmental interactions”, the Indibano was an exciting conference. The week consisted of students presenting on their research and guest speakers from various fields such as Marine Science, Remote Sensing and Machine Learning sharing their knowledge and experience.

The event attracted some 60 delegates, of which 30 were MSc and PhD students who presented their amazing research work. The talks were categorised into four fields of study – Marine, Terrestrial, Freshwater and Atmospheric – to accommodate a broader spectrum of research work that is in line with the SAEON mandate.

The 2023 Indibano was attended by 60 delegates, of which 30 were MSc and PhD students who presented their research work

A field trip excursion in Jonkershoek Nature Reserve demonstrated the long-term research work that the Fynbos Node is doing here

Highlights of the Indibano  

NASA and BioSCape involvement

The Indibano was blessed by the presence of international guests from NASA who delivered keynote addresses and presentations on NASA involvement with BioSCape in the Western Cape province of South Africa. Their inspiring talks included high-resolution remote sensing work and insights into the operations of going to the moon.

Field trip to Jonkershoek 

SAEON and EFTEON staff members (Ryan Blanchard and Abri de Buys) took the Indibano delegates on a field trip excursion in Jonkershoek Nature Reserve to demonstrate the long-term research work that SAEON is doing here. The students also got to visit a flux tower site that SAEON’s Fynbos Node has deployed to measure various earth-atmospheric interaction parameters.

This year’s Indibano was blessed by the presence of international guests from NASA who delivered keynote addresses and presentations on NASA’s involvement with BioSCape in the Western Cape province of South Africa

Award ceremony 

On the last evening, the GSN hosted an award ceremony to acknowledge the top three best student presentations during the Indibano. Congratulations to the following students who walked away as the winners: Sibusisiwe Moyo, Lethabo Sebothoma and Samista Kim Rooplal.

Sibusisiwe Moyo receives her award from Dr Ryan Blanchard, manager of the Fynbos Node, for best student presentation at the Indibano

Runner-up Lethabo Sebothoma receives her award from Abri de Buys of EFTEON.

Samista Kim Rooplal (right), second runner-up, receives her award from Caitlin Ransom, a member of NRF-SAEON’s Science Engagement team

Workshop sessions and panel discussions 

Several workshops aimed at equipping postgraduate students and building their capacity were held during the Indibano. The workshops were focused on bridging the transdisciplinary gap in science using artificial intelligence (AI) or machine learning softwares, high-resolution remote sensing and high-technology instrumentation to measure in-situ environmental variables.

The workshops ranged from remote sensing using high-resolution imagery, carbon fluxes, machine learning and bridging the transdisciplinary gap. Workshop and guest presentation resources can be accessed online at https://gsn.saeon.ac.za/2023/12/01/gsn-indibano-2023/ 

What was unique about the Indibano was the inclusion of panel discussions aimed at stimulating an engaged discussion around current topical issues that students and early career researchers are faced with in the field of environmental sciences. Topics of discussion were (i) Science and entrepreneurship/consultancy and (ii) Science and policy.

From left: Dr Wendy Foden (SANParks and Stellenbosch University), Nicole du Plessis (NRF-SAEON) and Tamryn Hamilton (GSN Steering Committee Indibano coordinator) in action during the science and policy panel discussion  

Vote of thanks 

NRF-SAEON extends its gratitude to everyone who participated in this year’s Indibano to make it a success, particularly all of the sponsors (NRF-SAAO, SANBI, SAPRI, NRF-SAEON’s Egagasini Node, Singo Consulting, Nelson Mandela University and Institute for Coastal and Marine Research, NMU), keynote speakers, NRF-SAEON managing director Dr Mary-Jane Bopape, the panellists from BioSCape partners, NASA, University of Cape Town, University of Stellenbosch, SharkSafeBarrier, Captain Fanplastic, MORA Ecological Services and  Ecological Resources Management (ERM).

We also offer special thanks to the Fynbos Node and EFTEON for facilitating the field trip to Jonkershoek, as well as the Node sponsors and staff members who assisted in making the event a success.

We hope that the engagement will continue going forward as the Indibano serves as a platform for sharing knowledge, ideas and discoveries that have the potential to impact the future in a positive way.  

Get in touch with us 

Keep your eyes open for exciting opportunities and updates on our annual Indibano 2024. 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, please visit our website: gsn.dirisa.org