Pretoria – The FBIP postgraduate student forum has been shifted to the forefront of the main Joint Biodiversity Information Management & Foundational Biodiversity Information Programme Forum with many lessons being learnt.

SANBI Chief Director for Biosystematics and Collections Prof Joseph Sebola said that 65% of the participants at the 2019 forum were students and that they are the future.

Sebola said that parallel programmes for data mobilisation existed and that biodiversity should become a central part of the bioeconomy.

“The research that you do must be informed by policy objectives and linkages should be made with the white paper on science and technology,” he told students.

Scientific career modelling for postgrads

University of Johannesburg plant taxonomist Prof Annah Moteetee echoed Prof Sebola’s message on how to make taxonomy relevant for national goals. Motatee shared her career journey and highlighted the continued need for taxonomy and the role of taxonomy in conservation.

In a heartfelt story Limpopo University taxonomist Dr Tshifhiwa Mandiwana-Neudani shared how she drew inspiration from her household chores (like collecting firewood) while growing up – particularly the call made my the rain bird of her home region. Her love of nature and ‘classifications’ led her into the sphere of academia where she enjoys teaching and loves research. Mandiwana-Neudani shared with students positives/successes versus negatives/struggles she had encountered on her journey.

Dr Caswell Munyai lit up the gathering with his infectious energy. Munyai highlighted the importance of publishing research in high impact journals and using collaborations to achieve that goal. He also emphasized the role of travelling through his studies and the impact it had on his personal development.

Permitting requirements

SANBI Deputy Director for permits Karin Behr gave students a stern message on the importance of acquiring the necessary permits before conducting field research. Behr outlined all prevailing provincial, national, and international legislation which are binding on researchers before any collecting can be done.