Introducing the new Graduate Student Network steering committee
By Amukelani Maluleke, External Communication Liaison
By Amukelani Maluleke, External Communication Liaison
MSc student Corianna Julie (Elwandle Node) as Chairperson, a role previously occupied by Qondisa Mbekwa;
PhD student Craig Mahlasi (Fynbos Node) as Secretariat, a portfolio previously held by Juan Swanepoel;
PhD student Marlize Muller (Ndlovu Node), who will be responsible for the Internal Stakeholder Communication portfolio, a position previously held by Thami Shezi;
PhD student Amukelani Maluleke (EFTEON), who steps into the External Stakeholder Communication portfolio, a position previously held by Tamanna Patel;
MSc student Nasreen Burgher (Egagasini Node), who will be responsible for the Website Management portfolio previously held by Tamanna Patel; and
PhD student Lindokuhle Dlamini (Grasslands Node), who now occupies the role of Indibano Logistics Coordinator, taking over from Jessica Els.
The incoming GSN Steering Committee. From left: Amukelani Maluleke, Corianna Julie, Nasreen Burgher, Craig Mahlasi, Lindokuhle Dlamini and Marlize Muller (Photo: Jessica Els)
Incoming and outgoing GSN steering committee members. Back row, from left: Marlize Muller, Caitlyn Ransom, Corianna Julie, Craig Mahlasi, Nasreen Burgher, Jessica Els and Qondisa Mbekwa. Front row, from left: Lindokuhle Dlamini, Juan Swanepoel, Thami Shezi and Amukelani Maluleke (Photo: Kogie Govender)
From the various SAEON nodes spread out across South Africa, members of the SAEON Graduate Student Network (GSN) descended on the shores of KwaZulu-Natal where a successful meeting and induction of the new steering committee was held in February at the De Charmoy Estate Guest House in Verulam.
On the first day of the meeting, lively introductions by the new and outgoing committee members kicked off the programme.
Sue van Rensburg, coordinator of the Grasslands-Wetlands-Forests Node, and Kogie Govender, SAEON’s Science Engagement Coordinator, led the morning session by presenting an overview of the GSN and the committee portfolios. The outgoing committee members then presented an overview of their portfolios and their mandated tasks.
Making the most of their time together, the new committee kickstarted the planning for the upcoming Indibano, an annual conference that provides a meeting place for postgraduate students to share their research, attend upskilling workshops and engage with leading researchers from various science and social fields. The planning session resulted in a list of tasks with specific deadlines allocated to each member to serve as a guideline towards hosting a successful event.
During the term of office of this new committee, each member is expected to participate in the preparation and hosting of node activities and workshops, a vital platform to engage students and provide the necessary exposure to potential careers and opportunities in science.
The first day’s proceedings concluded with dinner in Umhlanga where the GSN members enjoyed a late afternoon walk on the beach, a rare opportunity for students visiting KwaZulu-Natal for the first time.
To assist the new team in preparing themselves for their roles, Sue had arranged a detailed lecture on high-performance team dynamics on the second day, which introduced the members to softs skills that are important when working in teams and fulfilling tasks. In addition, this lecture provided key points on the chairing of sessions for the upcoming Indibano, highlighting the amount of preparation and awareness required from the committee members.
For a planned scenario of “What Could Go Wrong During an Indibano”, the members were grouped into pairs where they alternated between the roles of a conference chair and a presenter. The audience, including the presenter, would conspire to cause unforeseen situations to test how the chair would deal with sudden incidents ranging from power outages, an unruly audience, faulty devices to an anxiety attack from a conference presenter.
This session, filled as it was with moments of humour, was certainly the highlight of the meeting. The activity shifted the new members out of their comfort zones and prepared them to anticipate potential troublesome situations.
Although Sue assured us that it was highly unlikely for some of the situations we play-acted to occur, we were all grateful for her insight and the delicate way in which she handled this activity. This will certainly help streamline our preparations for the upcoming Indibano.
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. We hope to carry on from the platform of success they achieved and to reach even greater heights!
The SAEON GSN is a network of Honours, Masters, PhD and Postdoctoral students. Its aim is to deepen engagement, communication and academic excellence among postgraduate students in South Africa, particularly those with research projects in line with current and planned projects by SAEON.
The GSN is run by a steering committee made up of SAEON students, who are responsible for various portfolios. Each member can assume office for a period of up to two years. Steering committee members either volunteer themselves for portfolios or are nominated by SAEON staff or GSN members.
For more information on the GSN and to register as a member, please visit our website: gsn.dirisa.org
SAEON eNews is the bimonthly online newsletter of the South African Environmental Observation Network.
SAEON serves as a national platform for detecting, translating and predicting environmental change through scientifically designed observation systems and research.