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11 April 2005

Fitztitute students win accolades

Students of the Conservation Biology Master's degree programme at the Centre of Excellence at the Percy Fitz-Patrick Institute earned top honours for their poster presentations when they attended the sixth Student Conference on Conservation Science at the University of Cambridge in March.

Over 200 postgraduate students from 40 countries were in attendance, along with conservation practitioners from international conservation bodies. The UCT contingent's student delegates performed particularly well.

Philip Osano won first place in the oral presentation category for his talk on unraveling the hidden cost of biodiversity conservation within the Western Cape. Jessica da Silva won third place in the poster presentation category for her poster on DNA fingerprinting of the remaining population of a rare and critically endangered cycad endemic to South Africa.

Also presenting were Sebataolo Rahlao on long-term vegetation changes resulting from grazing in the Succulent Karoo and Mao Angua, who talked on developments in freshwater conservation planning in South Africa.

UCT labour experts serve on advisory body

Three labour experts, who have been appointed to serve as independent members of the newly-formed Employment Conditions Commission set up by the Minister of Labour, have a UCT connection. They are Prof Evance Kalula (chair), Debbie Budlender and Dr Haroon Bhorat.

Kalula is professor in the Faculty of Law and warden of Kopano Residence, Budlender serves on the UCT Council, and Bhorat is Director of the Development Policy Unit in the School of Economics.

The commission is a statutory body set up under the Basic Conditions of Employment Act, 1997. It advises the minister on minimum conditions of work for vulnerable workers in different sectors where there is no collective bargaining. These are the majority of working people in formal employment. Some sectors looked at by the commission recently include domestic and agricultural workers.

Group seeks volunteers for mental health study

A group of fourth-year occupational therapy (OT) students is, as part of their honours thesis, conducting a study on students' experiences of UCT. They are looking specifically for students who have been diagnosed with a mental illness (eg depression, schizophrenia, anxiety, substance abuse or eating disorders, etc), and who are willing to talk about their experiences at UCT. The group hopes to advocate recommendations of services and support offered by UCT to students with mental illness, based on the study's findings. Students who would like to volunteer can contact Kerry at 082 719 6459, Kristy at 084 431 7667, Julie at, or Clair at

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