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Natasha becomes Dr Kruger

09 March 2020

Natasha's PhD defense in Lyon

The defense of a PhD has different sets of rules in different countries. Usually, you become familiar with the rules in your own country because you've seen plenty of people conduct defenses before in your own department. However, Natasha had a co-tutelle agreement with Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1, and the co-tutelle agreement specified that she had to conduct her defense in Lyon, France (even though she'd never been there!).

This led to a a whole chain of events with a lot of travel for her defense jury (although Rui Rebelo was stopped from coming from Portugal by his university in case he caught a virus).

Natasha might have hoped that the most difficult part of her defense was going to be pronouncing the title in French...

The jury convened at 14h30 to listen to Natasha give her talk. She was then grilled with questions for around 1.5 hours by members of the jury who wanted to know more details of her study. It's not easy to become a dr. 

Finally, Natasha heard the words: "Congratulations - you're a doctor!"

Natasha will also graduate from Stellenbosch University in December, so watch this space to see pictures from that event.

  Frogs  Lab  Xenopus

Meanwhile, in Durban...

18 February 2020

The Guttural Toad Team are working hard

There are now three projects ongoing in Durban, and the MeaseyLab are going hard at it.

1. Max's experiment has lots of tadpoles to test.

You may remember that Max headed up to Durban at the end of 2019 in order to conduct an experiment on the tadpoles of Guttural toads (if not - see here). Since then, Max has caught a bunch of toads, persuaded them to breed and is now working with the tadpoles.

When he's not working with the tadpoles, you might find him taking a quick bath.

2. Stomach contents of Guttural toads

Sam has also got off to a great start finding lots of urban and rural toads for his project on their stomach contents. Getting to grip with flushing stomachs has not been a problem for Sam who has quickly become an expert.

3. James gets serious about hopping to it

James has also been collecting toads to add to his performance and behavioural trait datasets. 

Luckily, there's still lots of toads around in Durban, as long as it rains, so James has his hands full.

We're really proud of our #ToadTeam - so pleased that you are all getting great data. 

Natasha defends her PhD thesis (unofficially in Stellenbosch)

14 February 2020

Natasha defends her thesis

Doing a thesis defense is always a bit nerve wracking, but imagine if you had to do it twice? Luckly, for Natasha, it turned out that she did only have to defend her thesis once, but after we'd organised a defense in Stellenbosch, we decided to go ahead with the defense as a good practice for the real defense in Lyon. Whether or not it was actually going to be a defense seemed to be beyond our control. The faculty flip-flopped several times on the issue. 

Then, at the last minute it looked like even the dry run wouldn't happen as we were forced out of our building for a small fire on the first floor.

We got back into the department shortly after 13h00, when the defense was due to start. We had a diminished audience as many people had disappeared during the evacuation, but all of the important people were there to listen.

In time honoured fashion, after the defense, the lab all went down to the pub to celebrate.

  Lab  Xenopus

Pasha Podcast

12 February 2020

The Conversation releases Pasha podcast on listening to frogs

Many of you will be aware of The Conversation: Africa. An online magazine that publishes popular articles written by academics. 

Click on the link above and listen to the 6 minutes of pure gold...

  aSCR  Frogs

When is a wild animal actually a farm animal?

29 January 2020

Can Wild Animals Actually be Farm Animals?

In a recent opinion piece led by Mike Somers, we criticised the SA government's Department of Agriculture for passing a bill that classified 24 indigenous wildlife species and 3 invasive alien species as 'farm animals'. This allows farmers to breed these same species into genetically pure lines that could be advantageous for their sale. However, this law contravenes several existing laws that conserve these same species, or list them as invasive in South Africa. Our article questioned whether such a law should ever have been promulgated, given that there was never any consultation.

Read the article in the South African Journal of Science here:

We got a nice write-up in the Guardian here:

And another write up in the Saturday Star here:

...and the Witness here:

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