Vancouver, here we come

05 March 2007

Globetrotters: Kerry Mauchline and Victor Thomas pointing to Vancouver, where they'll spend the next four months researching.

In 2005 the International Academic Programmes Office (IAPO) was invited to nominate students to apply for the Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada Pilot Project Grants for Graduate Exchange Programmes in HIV/AIDS, African Commonwealth Countries. The funding is administered by the Canadian Bureau for International Education.

This would allow UCT students to spend time at the University of British Columbia (UBC) and Simon Fraser University, both in Vancouver, Canada, with which it has longstanding student exchange relationships.

"The objective is to provide opportunities for developing-country students to participate in existing exchange programmes," says Lara Hoffenberg, manager of mobility programmes at IAPO.

This project focuses on HIV/AIDS research and education.

Last year UCT sent two students - Annabelle Wienand and Tsiliso Tamasane - to UBC on these scholarships. Wienand is a master's student based at the AIDS in Society Research Unit at UCT, and is documenting and evaluating South African fine art and community art response to the AIDS pandemic.

Tamasane, a PhD sociology student, is researching the social impacts of HIV/AIDS on the structural function of the family and the role of government's policy responses in enhancing family coping mechanisms.

This year Serah Kimani and Kerry Mauchline will head for UBC, with Victor Thomas a stone's-throw away at Simon Fraser.

Kimani, who is busy with her master's in structural biology, plans to spend her time at UBC investigating structural and drug-binding studies on the HIV-1 subtype protease, and drug resistance in HIV.

Mauchline, master's student in philosophy, politics and economics, will be researching her thesis at UBC, which looks at African HIV/AIDS prevention campaigns. She questions whether the separate elements of an ABC (abstain, be faithful, condomise) campaign support or undermine each other.

"What we need is a stable policy to be promoted consistently," she said.

Thomas is part of a team of UCT researchers working on a new 12-city Southern African urban food security teaching and research collaboration. His study considers the relationship between food and rural versus urban areas.

"People here run the greatest risk of starvation," he says. "Southern Africa is the most food insecure."

But why Canada for an African focus?

"The support system here at UCT is amazing," Mauchline says. "Sometimes though, what you need is an outside perspective."

IAPO would like to extent its gratitude to UCT's Professor Sue Parnell, and UBC colleague Katherine Beaumont of their Go Global Office.

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