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Young Science Communicators Writing Initiative

The Public Understanding of Biotechnology hosts science communication workshops, specifically targeting young scientists and researchers doing post-graduate studies. 

The aim of these workshops has been to create an awareness of science communication and to promote skills development in science communication. The workshops run over one or two days and the main points of focus include an awareness and understanding of different audiences, how to formulate key messages, and vehicles to communicate key messages.

In an initiative to offer a platform to exercise skills in science communication, PUB commissions a group of young scientists who have attended a science communication workshop, or another science communication initiative of SAASTA, to write popular articles on various topics relating to biotechnology applications.

Each article followed SAASTA’s Scientific Editorial Process, which includes review by independent experts in the field. Feedback is given to the authors and changes requested to be made where necessary. This formed part of the development process for the authors. 

We would like to thank the following people for their assistance with the review process:

Prof Emile Van Zyl, SANERI Senior Chair of Energy Research: Biofuels, University of Stellenbosch

Prof Louise Warnich, Department of Genetics, University of Stellenbosch

Dr Tony Lelliot, Marang Centre for Maths and Science Education, University of Witwatersrand

Dr Charlotte Mienie, Biotechnology Division, Agricultural Research Council Grain Crop Institute.

Dr Wayne Towers, Centre of Excellence for Nutrition, North West University

Dr Carolyn Hancock, The DNA Project

Prof Vernon Coyne, Molecular and Cell Biology Department, University of Cape Town.

Dr Bob Scholes, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research

Dr Derek Litthauer, SA National Control Laboratory for Biological Products, University of the Free State

For Reviewer profiles, click here

To read the articles written by young scientists, you can open them here:

DNA “Photocopier” Helps Establish a New Scientific Field by Dane McDonald:
“The study of ancient and extinct animals fascinates people of all ages…” read more

The Fishing Rod of Future Food by Mathilde Van Der Merwe:
“Supplying food to billions of people and providing income for many millions more, aquaculture is the fastest growing area of animal-derived food production in the world…” read more

Tracking the Culprit in ‘Contagion’ Epidemics and Microbial Forensics by Sarah Goodier:
“Disease outbreaks can spread at an alarming rate. The 2011 film ‘Contagion’ gave insight into just how fast a virus could potentially spread across the globe…” read more

Biotechnology’s Role in Sustainable Energy for All by Megan Beckett:
“Sustainable energy, renewable energy, green energy, alternative energy, energy efficiency. In today’s hot topics of conversation, these phrases often come up, but what do they actually mean,…” read more 

What Else is Climate Changing? Food safety and security and the role of Biotechnology by Saskia von Diest:
“Climate Change has a universal impact, but how many people realise that it will affect what they eat?...” read more

Water Efficient Maize for Africa by Bianke Loedolff:
“Every nine years, somewhere in Africa, a country is challenged with a devastating drought…” read more


Young Science Communicators Writing Initiative:

In an initiative to offer a platform to exercise skills in science communication, PUB commissioned a group of young scientists to write popular articles on various topics relating to biotechnology applications. Read their on articles on topics including sustainable energy, aquaculture, palaeogenomics, and more... Click here to view.

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Press release

Shedding Light on Human Genetic Diversity

A paper detailing the the Southern African Genome Sequencing Project and its results was published in the journal Nature.

Read more

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A range of teaching aids are available in a number of different languages


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