Field trip to the Namib Desert – April 2021

The Namib Sand Sea

The Centre for Microbial Ecology and Genomics, where I currently work, has an annual trip to the Namib Desert for sampling purposes and, while it didn’t happen last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I was part of this year’s team. It was my first visit to both Namibia and the Namib Desert as well as my first field work since my SANBI internship many years ago.

Gobabeb and the Namib Desert

After flying in and spending one night in Walvis Bay, we were based at Gobabeb-Namib Research Station. It’s small research institution which has been running for several decades and hosts visitors from all over the world who wish to study the desert and its organisms. I found the accommodation there to be comfortable, the food tasty (and plentiful) and the staff very friendly. The only negative was the lack of a decent internet connection, meaning that I essentially spent my time there off the grid.

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Trip to OIST and Japan

Shisa standing guard at the entrance to Seaside House.

Shisa standing guard at the entrance to Seaside House.

I’ve recently returned from my first trip outside of South Africa, which saw me heading to Japan via Dubai. After a little more than 20 hours travelling (not counting the waiting time in airports), I made it to Seaside House. Seaside House is located on the coast in Onna and is part of the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University (OIST) where I had been invited to attend the admissions workshop for their PhD programme. Continue reading

Wolves in South Africa

Male Coywolf (Wolf X Coyote)

Male coywolf (wolf X coyote)

When I was in Port Elizabeth last week, I went, with friends, to the Tsitsikama Wolf Sanctuary. It is currently the only wolf sanctuary in South Africa and houses a number of wolves from zoos or that were originally kept as pets. Because of how they were raised, they can no longer be released into the wild. Even if they could be, they are not a native species to South Africa. It’s nice to know that there are people that are looking after these beautiful animals and, if you are in the area (It’s about an hour and forty minutes drive outside of Port Elizabeth), I would recommend a visit to support them. You can see some of my own pictures from the day below. Continue reading

Writers’ Workshop in Stellenbosch

Mont Fleur

Mont Fleur

Near the end of last month, I went to Stellenbosch with some other members of the Division of Human Genetics to attend a writers’ workshop. I’ve already dealt with the academic portion of workshop in a post on the Human Genetics website, so this one will focus more on the casual aspects and some thoughts stemming from it. While we were there, we stayed at the Mont Fleur conference venue which is amazing. The staff are polite and helpful, the accommodation is clean and spacious and the food is unbelievable. All that in an incredibly beautiful setting. Continue reading

SASHG & YRF 2013 conference

The large gap in posting at the beginning of October was due to the Southern African Society of Human Genetics (SASHG) 2013 conference and the associated Young Researchers’ Forum (YRF), the latter for students and postdocs. This saw me travelling north to Johannesburg for just under a week to see what was happening in the world of South African genetics and to present my own work at both the YRF and SASHG conference. There was far too much to go into detail for so I will just focus on a couple of highlights. Continue reading

A most enjoyable break

One of several decorative platters adorning the walls. I'm sure I heard they come from Afghanistan the last time I was there.

One of several decorative platters adorning the walls. I’m sure I heard they come from Afghanistan the last time I was there.

This past weekend I took advantage of Heritage Day to spend a few days with some of my family in a holiday house on the west coast, just a little way out from St Helena Bay. The visit, and others previously, was characterised by free-flowing drink (particularly sparkling wine), great food, interesting company and smaller activities punctuating the day. I took very few photographs of my own but I did select a couple taken by others, probably mostly by my mother. Continue reading

Quicklinks: Amazing planet

I’ll share two collections of images that are quite impressive. The first is a collection of .gifs from Google showing Earth over time. My favourite shows the retreat of the Columbia glacier.

Columbia Glacier Retreat (Source: Google)

Perhaps even more impressive are these photos of natural phenomena on Yahoo!. Time to start making a list of cool places to go see.

Lightning strike at the Grand Canyon (Source: Yahoo!)

From the top of Lion’s Head

Our group of scientists, finally at the top (Pic: Heather Whitehorn)

Our group of scientists, finally at the top (Pic: Heather Whitehorn)

My lab is hosting a student from the University of Bristol so one of the other students decided it would be nice to have a lab outing. This Tuesday a group of us set off to climb Lion’s Head, one of the mountains around Cape Town. Continue reading