Page 29 - UCT2012 Research Dashboard

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Research Dashboard
Professor Robert Millar, director of the Mammal Research
Unit at the University of Pretoria and Senior Research
Scholar in UCT’s Faculty of Health Sciences, received the
NSTF award made to an individual for an outstanding
contribution to SETI over a lifetime.
Other finalists from UCT were Professor Dan Stein, head
of the Department of Psychiatry and Mental Health
T W Kambule NRF-NSTF
Award to an Individual for an
Outstanding Contribution to SETI
through Research and its Outputs
over the last 5 to 10 years
Professor Graeme Cumming, Pola Pasvolsky Chair of
Conservation Biology in the Department of Zoology (now
Biological Sciences), received the 2012/13 T W Kambule
NRF-NSTF Award, for his research into the theory and
application of complexity theory in ecological and social-
ecological systems.
Professor Cumming studied Zoology and Entomology at
Rhodes University and then attended Oxford University,
UK, on a Rhodes Scholarship. While at New College,
Oxford, he completed his doctorate on 'The Evolutionary
Ecology of African Ticks'. From Oxford he moved to the
University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he was funded
by a D H Smith Postdoctoral Fellowship from The Nature
Conservancy (TNC). In Madison, he worked with TNC and
Professor Steve Carpenter at the Center for Limnology
on applying species-based models to management and
conservation-related problems in freshwater systems. After
two years as a postdoctoral research fellow, he was hired
as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Wildlife
Ecology and Conservation at the University of Florida
(UF). He left UF at the end of 2005 to take up the Pola
Pasvolsky Chair in Conservation Biology at the University
of Cape Town’s Percy FitzPatrick Institute.
Professor Cumming has a wide range of interests, which
centre on understanding spatial aspects of ecology and
the relevance of broad-scale pattern-process dynamics
for ecosystem (and social-ecological system) function
and resilience. He is also interested in the applications of
landscape ecology and complexity theory to conservation
and the sustainable management of natural resources.
Research currently being undertaken by Professor
Cumming and his students falls into two main programmes.
and director of the MRC Unit on Anxiety Disorders at
the University of Stellenbosch, Professor Karen Sliwa-
Hahnle, director of the Hatter Institute for Cardiovascular
Research in Africa (Department of Medicine, UCT), and
director of the Soweto Cardiovascular Research Unit
at the University of the Witwatersrand, and Associate
Professor Kobus van Zyl, who was part of the Aqualibrium
Civil Engineering Team.
The first focuses on water birds and their parasites,
pathogens, and movement ecology. This programme is
currently addressing the complex movement patterns of
waterfowl around Southern Africa and their role in the
spread of pathogens (particularly avian influenza and avian
malaria), plant seeds, and aquatic invertebrates. Waterfowl
movements have important implications for waterfowl
and wetland conservation, human health, and poultry
production. The second programme focuses on the topic
of spatial resilience and is using protected areas as a case
study for understanding the relevance of location, spatial
context, connectivity, and network membership for social-
ecological sustainability.
Professor Cumming has published more than 100 peer-
reviewed journal articles and book chapters, including
two books. He has successfully supervised more than
30 postgraduate students and is a past recipient of the
Meiring Naudé Medal of the Royal Society of South Africa,
which is awarded for ’scientific achievement by a scientist
under the age of 35 years‘. His current research is funded
by the National Research Foundation and a complexity
scholar award from the James S McDonnell Foundation.
Professor Graeme Cumming, pictured with Minister in
the Presidency, Trevor Manuel, and Dr Thandi Mgwebi
of the National Research Foundation.