#05 2023

The northeastern experience – my journey as a SAEON intern

By Rudzani G. Maboyi, MSc student, University of Venda, and Climatology Intern, SAEON Ndlovu Node

My name is Rudzani Maboyi. I am a Master of Earth Science candidate at the University of Venda and my field of study is in hydrology and water resources. I am currently working on a historical rainfall data analysis project. 

After completing my research for an Honours degree testing the consistency and homogeneity of rainfall in a river catchment, I chose to branch into spatial interpolation of rainfall data. I had the privilege to be hosted at NRF-SAEON’s Ndlovu Node through a DSI-HSRC (Department of Science and Innovation–Human Sciences Research Council) internship.

Rudzani presenting at a weather station workshop for educators

Rudzani assisted at the Timbavati winter science camp for grade 11 learners

Thulamahashe weather station work

Study on historical rainfall trends 

Under the guidance of Dr Tony Swemmer, manager of the Ndlovu Node, I was granted the opportunity to present a study on the historical rainfall trends in the northeastern region of the country at the 2023 National Global Change Conference (GCC5).

Data visualisation was used to present the results graphically for the stations of interest. The graphs demonstrated the deviation from the long-term mean annual rainfall, geometric mean of event size, and frequency of extreme events. The study showed slight changes in the trends and a research gap in the study of spatial interpolation of the rainfall data in the area.

It was an invaluable experience to present and engage with researchers in similar fields.

Participating in the Women in Science panel discussion during the launch of National Science Week at the University of Venda

Science engagement 

Science engagement was an unexpected highlight during my internship. SAEON Science Engagement team members Joe Sibiya and Caitlin Ransom encouraged me to enhance my presentation and public speaking skills through science communication.

I was able to participate in NRF-SAASTA’s 2023 National Science Week (NSW), running weather station workshops in Phalaborwa. I was also invited to be one of the panellists discussing the life of women in science at the University of Venda during the official launch of NSW. I assisted a learner to prepare for the 2023 SAEON Kids Virtual Competition, helped five learners prepare for the 2022 All-Atlantic Blue Schools competition and assisted in the grade 11 winter camp held at the Timbavati Educational Facility.

My sincerest thanks to those mentioned above, as well as Dr Mary-Jane Bopape, Dr Clifford Nxomani, Kogie Govender, Dr Dave Thompson, Una Manave, Rion Lerm, Peace Nkuna and Mightyman Mashele for making my northeastern experience so worthwhile.

What a journey it has been!

Rudzani presented a study on historical rainfall trends in the north-eastern region of the country at the 2023 National Global Change Conference (GCC5) held at the University of the Free State

Interacting with learners at the 2023 National Science Week launch exhibition