14 August 2018
WomenofKovsies Dr Lize Joubert on flowers and their favourite insects
Pollination is important to maintain diversity in our natural ecosystem and maintain ecosystem health

“Pollination is important to maintain diversity in our natural ecosystem and maintain ecosystem health.” So says Dr Lize Joubert, lecturer in the Department of Plant Sciences at the University of the Free State. “Research helps to understand the interaction between insects and flowers and their many implications on real-world problems.”

Plant systematics and pollination biology, Dr Joubert’s research field, looks at how plants diversify, adapt to environmental changes and how their flowers evolve to keep attracting insects to pollinate them for reproduction. 

Dependency on pollination

Crop production is, in many cases, dependent on pollination. About 75% of the world’s crops are to some extent dependant on pollination. “Pollination is really important for us as human beings, but it is also important to maintain diversity in our natural ecosystem and maintain ecosystem health.”

Dr Joubert obtained her PhD in plant systematics in 2013 and was subsequently awarded the EM van Zinderen-Bakker Prize for an outstanding PhD dissertation in Botany.

She is also the curator of the Geo Potts Herbarium in Bloemfontein, the internationally accredited herbarium housing over 30 000 plant specimens, mainly representing the flora of central South Africa and several special collections from Marion Island, the Okavango Delta, and KwaZulu-Natal. 

Learning from the experts

As a young researcher Dr Joubert became part of the Prestige Scholars Programme (PSP) at the UFS which led her to Cambridge University where she became part of a research group for nearly two years under an expert in her field, Prof Beverley Glover. The PSP at UFS identifies and promotes promising young academics at the university to become full professors with excellent research accomplishments. 

Dr Joubert views the PSP Programme to a large extent as her academic home. She is proud to be part of the programme that has brought her closer to other experts in her field and resulted in collaborations in which she is involved in cutting-edge research. 


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