30 December 2019 | Story Thabo Kessah | Photo Rian Horn
UFS Qwaqwa Campus
Hundreds of international botanists will be attending the 46th SAAB Annual Conference on the Qwaqwa Campus.

The University of the Free State Qwaqwa Campus is gearing up to host the 46th Annual Conference of the South African Association of Botanists from 7 to 10 January 2020. Talking about the choice of venue, Chairperson of the Local Organising Committee, Dr Sandy-Lynn Steenhuisen, said the unique setting in the shadow of the Maloti-Drakensberg Mountains highlights the Qwaqwa Campus as a fantastic base for interdisciplinary montane studies. “This is the home of the Afromontane Research Unit (ARU), and it will also give the delegates an opportunity to explore a treasure trove of botanical diversity on a post-conference tour to the top of the Amphitheatre in the Northern Drakensberg,” she said.

International delegates

“The conference will be attended by approximately 250 delegates representing at least 10 countries.  We are very excited to host two international and two national plenaries, namely Prof Peter Linder (University of Zürich), Prof Felipe Amorim (São Paulo State University – UNESP), Prof Annah Moteetee (University of Johannesburg), and our Young Botanist award winner from SAAB 2019, Ryan Rattray from GeneLethu Laboratories.”

SAAB 2020 is open to all researchers, industry partners, and citizen scientists from any botanical field. “The theme will embrace Qwaqwa’s cultural heritage by using the Sesotho phrase ‘Dimela ke bophelo’, which translates to ‘Plants are life’. This theme emphasises the dependence of all earthly life on plants. Delegates are offered the opportunity to book residence accommodation adjacent to the conference venue, and our conference organisers, XL Millennium, are eager to help with registration and any travel arrangements,” she added.

Botanists to be awarded

The conference will also be honouring botanists for their lifetime contributions to the field of plant sciences with the awarding of gold and silver medals, and the best doctoral thesis from the previous year with a bronze medal. These will be awarded during the gala dinner at the end of the conference.

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