Upcoming UCT Inaugural Lecture and other updates

05 May 2023

Dear colleagues and students

The University of Cape Town (UCT) will host the second lecture in the reconfigured UCT Inaugural Lecture series on Wednesday, 10 May 2023. Read about this and other recent developments on campus.

1. UCT Inaugural Lecture: Professor Donald

The second lecture in the reconfigured UCT Inaugural Lecture series will take place on Wednesday, 10 May 2023. The lecture, to be presented by Professor Kirsty Donald, is titled “Risk and resilience in early childhood brain development”. It will be held in the Neuroscience Auditorium, Health Sciences Campus, from 18:00.

Professor Donald’s lecture celebrates her academic journey to explore the remarkable early development of the human brain, based in Africa, home to the fastest growing childhood population. Working with mothers and infants from communities in South Africa, Malawi and Kenya, and using measures of biological health, social interaction and innovative imaging techniques, Donald is creating a map of brain growth and development through the first thousand days of life. The lecture will share her quest to discover exactly when and how early life exposures and experiences impact on the brain’s development in our region, and what can be done to leave no child behind.

Donald is deputy director of the UCT Neuroscience Institute and for the last 15 years she has headed the Division of Developmental Paediatrics at the Red Cross Children’s War Memorial Hospital. Scientifically, she has contributed to an understanding of the role antenatal exposures play in shaping early brain development, and to an understanding of both phenotypic variability and genetic variation in developmental conditions in the African region. Internationally, she has served on the UNICEF expert panel for global standard-setting in early childhood development and is a member of the World Health Organization Strategic and Technical Advisory Group on Mental Health, Brain Health and Substance Use.

2. Update on recovery from the April 2021 fire

Two years since the Table Mountain runaway fire raged on campus, UCT co-hosted the launch of a remarkable book titled Stories from the Ashes – Africa’s Story Through the Last Millennium, a collaborative project between DStv, Ogilvy and UCT Libraries Special Collections on 18 April 2023.

This book, a compilation of remnants and texts salvaged from the burnt Reading Room and flooded basements, commemorates the destruction of significant African Studies monographs, film and government publications and collections, and the work of the professionals who painstakingly curated these collections.

The university has also provided an update on the Jagger Library restoration process and on other affected buildings.

3. UCT continues to respond to loadshedding challenge

UCT management continues to work tirelessly to minimise the impact of loadshedding on campus. Management acknowledges the stressful environment that the power outages add to students and staff in an already pressurised academic environment. With the June exams scheduled to start in the next few weeks, work is already underway to ensure that there are mitigation measures against the impact of loadshedding, in particular during the period.

A number of measures and back-up power have already been put in place to ensure that the teaching, learning and research activities continue with as minimal interruption as possible under the circumstances. Further to these, significant work is underway to keep key UCT sites connected during loadshedding.

4. World Day for Health and Safety at Work

Following the commemoration of World Day for Health and Safety at Work on Friday, 28 April 2023, the Occupational Health, Safety and Environment division within the Properties and Services department at UCT will host educational sessions for staff and students within various departments and faculties. These sessions will provide basic safety demonstrations and awareness sessions on health and safety at work.

The sessions will be arranged throughout the year with the objective of fully supporting the International Labour Organization’s theme for 2023: “A safe and healthy working environment is a fundamental principle and right at work”.

5. Lecture on supporting gender diverse youth

The Centre for Extra Mural Studies will host a lecture by Dr Simon Pickstone-Taylor – a general adult, child and adolescent psychiatrist and honorary senior lecturer in the Psychiatry Department at UCT – on Wednesday, 17 May 2023. It will be held in Lecture Theatre 2, Kramer Law Building at 18:00.

The talk will cover the four main axes of gender (biological sex, gender expression, sexual orientation and gender identity) and terms, the incidence of transgender youth, the causes of gender diversity, co-existing psycho-pathology, evidence based management and outcomes or gender diverse youth.

Dr Pickstone-Taylor specialised in psychiatry in the United States and completed a fellowship in child and adolescent psychiatry at the University of California. He has a special interest in gender diversity, particularly in young people. In 2012 he started the Gender Identity Development Service within UCT’s Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry where he provides support for young people up to 18 years old and their families, as well as to other professionals supporting these young people. He gives training on gender and sexuality to trainees and staff. He is member of the World Professional Association of Transgender Health and founder member of the Professional Association of Transgender Health of South Africa.

The lecture is free of charge.

Please RSVP to ems@uct.ac.za.

Communication and Marketing Department

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