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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

Four modernised controlled environment cabinets inaugurated
2006-07-27

Photographed in a controlled environment cabinet were at the back from the left:  Mr Adriaan Hugo (head of the UFS Electronics and Mechanisation Division), Prof Herman van Schalkwyk (Dean: Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences at the UFS) and Prof Koos Terblans (lecturer at the UFS Department of Physics).  In front is Mr Koos Uys (engineering consultant from Experto Designa who helped with the cooling systems of the cabinets).
Photo: Leonie Bolleurs

Different look for research in controlled circumstances at the UFS  

Research in controlled circumstances at the University of the Free State (UFS) turned a new page today with the inauguration of four modernised controlled environment cabinets of the Department of Soil, Crop and Climate Sciences.

“The controlled environment cabinets, which are situated next to the glass houses on the eastern side of the Agriculture Building on the Main Campus in Bloemfontein, were installed in the early 1980’s.  The cabinets, used for research purposes in controlled circumstances by the UFS for many years, became dysfunctional and needed to be repaired and put into use again,” said Prof Herman van Schalkwyk, Dean: Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences at the UFS.

“The cabinets are used by the agronomics, horticulture and soil science divisions of the Department of Soil, Crop and Climate Sciences to control factors such as the temperature, the intensity and quality of light, synthesis and humidity.  This is done 24 hours a day, with hourly intervals,” said Prof Van Schalkwyk.

The cabinets are ideally suited to determine the joint and separate effects of these factors on the growth of plants.  The adaptability of plants to climate can also be investigated under controlled circumstances.  All of this leads to a better understanding of the growth and development process of plants, more specifically that of agricultural crops. 

“The effect of these environmental factors on the effectiveness of insect killers such as fungus killers, insecticide and weed killers can also be investigated and can help to explain the damage that is sometimes experienced, or even prevent the damage if the research is timeously,” said Prof Van Schalkwyk.

A new cabinet can cost between R2-3 million, depending on the degree of sophistication.  “Although controlled environment cabinets have been used for agricultural research for a long time, it has become costly to maintain them     and even more impossible to purchase new ones,” said Prof Van Schalkwyk.

According to Prof Van Schalkwyk the cabinets were re-built by die UFS Electronics and Mechanisation Division.  Some of the mechanisms were also replaced and computerised.   

“The re-building and mechanisation of the cabinets were funded by the faculty and because the work was done by our own staff, an amount of about R1 million was saved.  The maintenance costs will now be lower as the cabinets are specifically tailor made for our research needs,” said Prof Van Schalkwyk.

Where all monitoring was done manually in the past, the cabinets can now be controlled with a computer.  This programme was designed by Prof Koos Terblans from the UFS Department of Physics. 

According to Prof Van Schalkwyk the modernisation of the cabinets is part of the faculty’s larger strategy to get its instruments and apparatus up to world standards.  “With this project we have proved that we can find a solution for a problem ourselves and that there are ways to get old apparatus functional again,” said Prof Van Schalkwyk.

Media release
Issued by: Lacea Loader
Media Representative
Tel:   (051) 401-2584
Cell:  083 645 2454
E-mail:  loaderl.stg@mail.uovs.ac.za
26 July 2006

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