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Newton Fund supports new marine and maritime partnership between UK and South Africa

NMMU visit

7 April 2016

From Southampton Marine and Maritime Institute website

Professors Rachel Mills and Damon Teagle have just returned from their first visit to the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) where they initiated a number of areas of collaboration as part of a new partnership between the University of Southampton and NMMU in Port Elizabeth, South Africa.

This emerging centre of excellence is a new partner for the University of Southampton; underpinned by a successful bid to the Newton fund for 3-year PhD partnering programme in the area of Marine and Maritime and the appointment of Professor Mike Roberts as the first jointly funded Newton-National Research Foundation research chair in marine food security (based jointly between NMMU and NOCS).

NMMU visit

NMMU is located on the coast in Summerstrand, overlooking one of the most diverse coastal ecosystems in the Indian Ocean. Zebra roam the University nature reserve and can be seen from Deputy Vice Chancellor Andrew Leitch’s 17th floor office, dolphin and shark patrol the surf zone. This ambitious new university has some world-class facilities and locations for fieldwork and has hired some exceptional staff who are keen to build capacity in a range of areas. PhD partnering opportunities are available to students from both institutions and initial areas of joint research will include invasive species in coastal ecosystems, tracking fish migration using novel geochemical techniques, impact of noise pollution on marine mammals and other species, coastal sediment dynamics and interactions with the coastal built environment and novel algal culturing techniques. Mike Roberts’ Indian Ocean food security programme will provide further collaborative opportunities for both partners.

NMMU hosts the Africa Earth Observatory Network led by Professor Maarten de Wit. He and his team have set up a new academic field of Earth Stewardship Science and have an ambitious vision for South Africa and wider African nations. The next steps for Southampton – NMMU collaboration will see development of closer links with AEON to deliver this vision through transdisciplinary research efforts in the Indian Ocean.

There will be annual calls for PhD students interested in partnership activity; the first call will open in February 2016 for students interested in placements at NMMU later in 2016