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29 January 2019 | Story Xolisa Mnukwa | Photo Anja Aucamp
Prof Francis Petersen speech
“We can create an institution that operates and lives in the times of embracing and celebrating diversity, inclusivity, and academic excellence by ensuring that students own their time at university,” said Prof Francis Petersen.

25 January 2019 marked the official welcoming of the University of the Free State’s (UFS) first-year students, as they moved into their respective residences and were warmly welcomed on the UFS Bloemfontein Campus. This day also marked the start of the registration process for first-year students.

According to first-year Psychology student Keisha Claasen, who moved into her residence earlier on 25 January, her first experience of the UFS was daunting but exciting, as she had never been in a similar environment. According to Given Gwerera, who dropped his son off at the Karee residence earlier the day, “the UFS is an institution with great culture and an overall good academic record.” He further explained that he trusts his son to make full use of the opportunities presented to him, as he has a cool head on his shoulders.

On the evening of 25 January, an eager group of millennials, joined by their parents, took the first sip from their cup of varsity life as they assembled on the Red Square of the Bloemfontein Campus to meet the Rector and Vice-Chancellor, Prof Francis Petersen, members of Rectorate, the deans of all faculties, and the Student Representative Council (SRC) of the UFS.

“2019 will be a year of continued change; the UFS is thrilled about the prospect of bringing about opportunities for adaptation and realignment to the future,” said Prof Francis Petersen.

He further explained that the university prides itself in moulding its students into well-rounded individuals who will develop into globally competitive graduates as required in a diversity of landscapes. Prof Petersen urged first-years to remain open to the technological developments that go with globalisation, because of its permanent effects on society today.

First-years were further advised to take advantage of the rich pool of academic research and knowledge that is characteristic of the university and is piloted by UFS scholars, by engaging with and learning from them.

The inspiring night concluded on a colourful note, as the audience enjoyed an artistic laser show in front of the Main Building. Caption:

“UFS academics conduct research that forces the world to take note,” said Prof Francis Petersen at the official first-year welcoming ceremony on the UFS Bloemfontein Campus.

News Archive

Researcher works on finding practical solutions to plant diseases for farmers
2017-10-03

 Description: Lisa read more Tags: Plant disease, Lisa Ann Rothman, Department of Plant Sciences, 3 Minute Thesis,  

Lisa Ann Rothman, researcher in the Department of
Plant Sciences.
Photo: Supplied

 


Plant disease epidemics have wreaked havoc for many centuries. Notable examples are the devastating Great Famine in Ireland and the Witches of Salem. 

Plant diseases form, due to a reaction to suitable environments, when a susceptible host and viable disease causal organism are present. If the interactions between these three factors are monitored over space and time the outcome has the ability to form a “simplification of reality”. This is more formally known as a plant disease model. Lisa Ann Rothman, a researcher in the Department of Plant Sciences at the University of the Free State (UFS) participated in the Three Minute Thesis competition in which she presented on Using mathematical models to predict plant disease. 

Forecast models provide promise fighting plant diseases
The aim of Lisa’s study is to identify weather and other driving variables that interact with critical host growth stages and pathogens to favour disease incidence and severity, for future development of risk forecasting models. Lisa used the disease, sorghum grain mold, caused by colonisation of Fusarium graminearum, and concomitant mycotoxin production to illustrate the modelling process. 

She said: “Internationally, forecasting models for many plant diseases exist and are applied commercially for important agricultural crops. The application of these models in a South African context has been limited, but provides promise for effective disease intervention technologies.

Contributing to the betterment of society
“My BSc Agric (Plant Pathology) undergraduate degree was completed in combination with Agrometeorology, agricultural weather science. I knew that I wanted to combine my love for weather science with my primary interest, Plant Pathology. 
“My research is built on the statement of Lord Kelvin: ‘To measure is to know and if you cannot measure it, you cannot improve it’. Measuring the changes in plant disease epidemics allows for these models to be developed and ultimately provide practical solutions for our farmers. Plant disease prediction models have the potential ability to reduce the risk for famers, allowing the timing of fungicide applications to be optimised, thus protecting their yields and ultimately their livelihoods. I am continuing my studies in agriculture in the hope of contributing to the betterment of society.” 

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