46th SAAB ANNUAL CONFERENCE

UFS QWAQWA CAMPUS | 7-10 JANUARY 2020

SPEAKERS

Professor Hans Peter Linder

Professor at the Institute of Systematic and Evolutionary Botany
University of Zurich, Switzerland

While currently based at the University of Zurich, Switzerland, Professor Linder is an integral part of South African Botany. After matriculating at Piketberg High School, among the Cape mountains, he received his university training at the University of Cape Town, later becoming a Professor in the Department of Botany and assistant curator of the Bolus Herbarium. He then moved to Kew. It was on his way back, driving over land from the United Kingdom to South Africa, that he acquired a broad overview of the African flora; the topic of his research for decades. Both at UCT, and later as a Professor of Systematic Botany at the University of Zurich, where he also served as the Director of the Institute of Systematic Botany and the Botanic Garden of Zurich for ten years from 2001, he pursued a research agenda that aimed at unlocking the mystery of the evolution of the African flora in general, and the Cape flora in particular. Professor Linder is renowned for his seminal work on the evolution of the Cape flora, having investigated biogeographic trends in a myriad of plant taxa but particularly the families Orchidaceae and Restionaceae. His passion for research and success in securing funding from sources such National Geographic and the Swiss National Science Foundation, has led to the graduation of almost 30 Masters and 24 Doctoral students, many co-supervised with South African botanists, and a publication record hitting 300 this year (h-index 65, over 14 400 citations).

Professor Ntsamaeeng Annah Moteetee

Head of Department of Botany and Plant Biotechnology
University of Johannesburg, South Africa

Starting out as a teaching assistant and later lecturer in the Biology Department of the National University of Lesotho, Prof Moteetee is now a Full Professor and current Head of the Department of Botany and Plant Biotechnology at the University of Johannesburg, South Africa. Prof Moteetee obtained her Masters degree at the University of London and her Doctoral degree in Botany at UJ (previously RAU). Her training goes beyond science having attended courses focussed on the advancement and leadership development of women in the Higher Education sector at UCT, and the Vice Chancellor’s Executive Leadership Development Programme run by the Gordan Institute of Business Sciences, which included visits to universities in Shanghai, China and Singapore She has served as a Herbarium Curator since 2006, and Vice-Dean of the Faculty of Science at UJ for 5 years. Currently supervising thirteen Masters students and five Doctoral students, her lab focusses on the fields of Ethnobotany (medicinal plants), Plant taxonomy and Biosystematics. Her specific research interests include the systematics and taxonomy of the African legumes, and ethnobotanical studies (with an emphasis on medicinal and food plants) of the Basotho living in Lesotho and the Free State Province of South Africa. In line with this, Prof Moteetee’s most recent publication was a review of invasive alien plant species in Lesotho and their ethnobotanical uses. With 40 publications and collaborations such as the NRF South Africa/Ghana Flagship Project with members from University of Ghana (2018 to current), Prof Moteetee has achieved a well-earned C-NRF rating.

MR Ryan Rattray

Winner of the Best Young Botanist award at the 45th annual SAAB conference
Laboratory Manager, GeneLethu (PTY) LTD

Having specialised in genetics and phytochemistry of medicinal plants, Mr Ryan Rattray is currently the Laboratory Manager at GeneLethu (PTY) LTD, a small start-up genetics company that offers DNA barcoding, sequencing and environmental DNA services in southern Africa. Mr Rattray has recently completed his Masters degree (cum laude), focussed on the use of DNA barcoding and chemical analysis to discriminate between ‘pure’ and ‘adulterant’ plant species used in local herbal medicines, while overseeing projects and the management of the African Centre for DNA Barcoding at the University of Johannesburg until 2019. Mr Rattray is an accomplished researcher and speaker, having won the Best Presentation for a Young Scientist/Botanist at two local conferences (SAAB 2019 at the University of Johannesburg and the Indigenous Plant Use Forum held in Oudtshoorn 2018) and a poster prize at an international conference (International Conference on the Science of Botanicals at Oxford, Mississippi, USA 2018). Mr Ryan Rattray is no stranger to SAAB conferences and we look forward to his aspiring plenary contribution as a young upcoming botanist.

Professor Felipe W. Amorim

Assistant Professor at the Institute of Biosciences
São Paulo State University, UNESP, Brazil

During his undergaduate studies in Biological Sciences at the Federal University of Uberlândia in Southeastern Brazil, Professor Amorim developed a passion for research on hawkmoths and hawkmoth-pollinated plants, particularly in the cerrado vegetation (the Brazilian Savannah). After completing a Master’s degree in 2008, he moved to São Paulo State and pursued a Ph.D. in Plant Biology with Prof. Marlies Sazima at the University of Campinas. During this period Prof Amorim had the opportunity to work in the Atlantic Rain forest, one of the most diverse tropical forests in the world. Near the end of his Ph.D., he also completed an internship in Argentina, researching pollinator-mediated selection of hawkmoth-pollinated plants, and the chemical constituents of nectar.  Following one year of Postdoctoral research at Federal University of ABC in the industrial belt of the São Paulo city, Prof Amorim was selected for an academic tenure in 2013 in São Paulo State University (UNESP), a multicampus Institution located in 23 different cities in São Paulo State. He leads a dynamic research group of undergraduate and graduate students working on different aspects of animal-plant interactions such as extrafloral nectary-mediated ant-plant interactions, pre-dispersal seed predation, and pollination by different animal groups varying from invertebrates to vertebrates. In short, his young research team makes use of natural history studies, together with population and community ecology studies, to understand plant-animal interactions in a wider and interdisciplinary context.

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