I am a hardworking young scientist with endless curiosity a passion for the natural world
Ever since I was a little girl, I loved wildlife and was keenly interested in learning about the natural world, reading my father's National Geographic magazines ardently as they arrived each month. Throughout my school career, Biology was my favorite subject, and I was encouraged to apply for a degree in Zoological and Ecological Sciences.
I completed my undergraduate B.Sc. degree at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) in 2014 and went on to do my Honors degree in the School of Animals, Plants and Environmental Sciences in 2015. My project focused on identifying the coexistence mechanisms between two species of mongoose in an urbanized area, resulting in a better understanding of how animals survive in human-altered areas.
With a growing passion for Science, I subsequently completed my M.Sc. at Wits in 2017. My project investigated human-wildlife conflict with the African wild dog in South Africa, which I completed within one year. My research quantified losses by commercial and subsistence farmers to carnivores and contributed to a better understanding of the spatial behavior of wild dogs and identified key landscape features that predicted mortality risk in these endangered carnivores. During this time, I also volunteered to assist with obtaining population estimates of different dangerous and non-dangerous game species using the Distance Sampling technique at uMkhuze Nature Reserve in Kwazulu-Natal, where I spent three weeks walking transects in the reserve with rangers and teammates.
In March 2017, I was accepted into the National Research Foundation's year-long internship program, during which time I worked with the Ditsong Museum of Natural History and AfricanBats NPC. My main tasks were to assist in museum collection management and to create a catalogue of all the small mammal type specimens. Additionally, I assisted with fieldwork, data collection and management and writing reports (2017 and 2018 African Chiroptera Report). I also contributed to community outreach and various education programs, teaching people from a variety of ages and backgrounds about bats at community batting events, National Science Week and the Yebo Gogga Yebo AmaBlomo exhibition.
During my internship, I realized the shortfall of information available for various aspects of bat ecology and conservation in South Africa, leading me to develop my PhD project, which I completed in 2020 at the University of Pretoria (UP) through the Mammal Research Institute. My project focused on investigating various factors around a migratory species of bat spanning across behavior, morphology and physiology. I have produced several international publications, advancing our knowledge and the conservation efforts of these understudied animals. Whilst completing my PhD, I also volunteered with the Snapshot Safari project, assisting researchers from UP, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University and the McGregor Museum to conduct small mammal surveys in the Kalahari and the Karoo.
I am continuing my journey with bats and am a post-doctoral researcher with the Centre for Viral Zoonoses and Mammal Research Institute at the University of Pretoria. My project is inter-disciplinary and focuses on identifying potential hotspots of bat-borne disease spillover risk in South Africa. Through this project, I am also a part of a global team of diverse, multi-disciplinary scientists within the OneHealth initiative within the EcoHealth Alliance and UNICEF.
My core competencies include:
Research development - Project management - Written and oral communication - Data management - Statistical data analysis - Scientific reporting - Leadership and collaboration