Fulbright Scholar from Virginia Commonwealth University visits UKZN
Dr James Vonesh of the Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) in the United States visited UKZN’s School of Life Sciences to present a lecture based on his work as Principal Investigator at VCU’s Vonesh lab.
Vonesh is currently conducting research and teaching at Stellenbosch University on a Fulbright Scholarship sabbatical.
A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between UKZN and VCU in 2005 to facilitate collaboration in research and teaching. Since 2013, the exchange of staff and students has been taking place in UKZN’s Centre for Jazz and Popular Music.
Vonesh’s visit explored prospects for engagement in Life Sciences with his presentation giving an overview of the history, environmental context and research focuses of VCU, and of his work predicting the effects of sequential predators across prey life stages.
Arising from his research on predator-prey ecology, he gave some interesting insights into the consequences that an increase in predator diversity has on ecosystems. The presentation covered experimental designs and simulations to predict these consequences in aquatic systems.
Vonesh’s interaction with staff at UKZN revealed common points of interest and opportunities for collaboration.
His experiences in KwaZulu-Natal included a visit to the African Bird of Prey Sanctuary with UKZN students, and a trip with alumnus Dr Peter Calverly to a game reserve on the Tugela River.
‘South Africa’s biodiversity is astounding, and would greatly interest students and researchers at VCU,’ said Vonesh.
Professor Colleen Downs, UKZN’s South African Research Chair in Ecosystem Health and Biodiversity in KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape, who hosted Vonesh, said his visit was important for furthering interactions between the universities.