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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

Researchers reach out across continents in giraffe research
2015-09-18

Dr Francois Deacon and Prof Fred Bercovitch
busy with field work.

Researcher Dr Francois Deacon from the Department of Animal, Wildlife, and Grassland Sciences at the University of the Free State is conducting research with renowned wildlife scientist, Prof Fred Bercovitch, from the Center for International Collaboration and Advanced Studies in Primatology, Kyoto University Primate Research Institute in Japan.

Dr Deacon’s ground-breaking research has attracted international media attention. Together with Prof Nico Smit, he equipped giraffes with GPS collars, and conducted research based on this initiative. “Satellite tracking is proving to be extremely valuable in the wildlife environment. The unit is based on a mobile global two-way communication platform, utilising two-way data satellite communication, complete with GPS systems.”

Prof Bercovitch was involved with GPS tracking from elephants to koala bears.

Some of the highlights of the joint research on giraffes by Dr Deacon and Prof Bercovitch focus on:
 
• How much time do certain giraffes spend with, and away from, one another
• How do the home ranges of herds and individual giraffe overlap
• Do genetically-related animals spend more time together than non-genetically-related animals
• How much time do the young bulls, adult bulls, and dominant bulls spend with cow herds
• Herd interactions and social behaviours of giraffe
• The role of the veld and diet on animal behaviour and distribution

 

Their research article, “Gazing at a giraffe gyroscope: Where are we going?”, which was published in the African Journal of Ecology, assesses recent research by exploring five primary questions:

- How many (sub) species of giraffe exist?
- What are the dynamics of giraffe herds?
- How do giraffe communicate?
- What is the role of sexual selection in giraffe reproduction?
- How many giraffe reside in Africa?

They conclude this article by emphasising that the most essential issue is to develop conservation management plans that will save a wonderful species from extinction, and which will also enable scientists to conduct additional research aimed at answering their five questions.

In addition, they are working together on a grand proposal to get National Geographic to cover their work.

 

 

 

 

 

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