Palaeobiologists must "excite and invite"

06 August 2012

Derek Hanekom Bone to pick: Prof Anusuya Chinsamy-Turan with Derek Hanekom, deputy minister of science and technology, during the latter's recent visit.

Be proactive in exposing decision-makers like him to their work, Derek Hanekom (deputy minister for science and technology) urged palaeoscientists during his recent visit to the palaeobiology lab at UCT's Department of Zoology.

Hanekom was at UCT to meet with Professor Anusuya Chinsamy-Turan, head of the Department of Zoology; Professor Danie Visser, deputy vice-chancellor responsible for research; and Professor Anton le Roex, Dean of Science. Also at the meeting were Professor Judy Sealy of the Department of Archaeology, archaeologist Associate Professor Becky Ackerman, geologist Dr John Compton and forensic anthropologist Professor Alan Morris, all part of the UCT palaeoscience group.

Hanekom says the South African government recognises South Africa's geographic advantage in the palaeosciences, which is evidenced by Cabinet's approval of the South African Strategy for Palaeosciences this year. The aim of the strategy is to develop the discipline through the building of human capital, resource support, and by engaging the public on all spheres of the field, among other goals.

Hanekom maintained that the onus is on the researchers to "excite and invite" governmental stakeholders and the public about the work they do. He also advised them to engage officials and the broader public on media platforms that they are currently using, such as Twitter and Facebook.

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