The 6th South African National Antarctic Programme (SANAP) symposium took place at the Houw Hoek Hotel in Grabouw from the 27th November 2023 – 1st December 2023 and was hosted by Stellenbosch University. The 4-day symposium consisted of oral as well as physical and e-poster presentations, and networking sessions therefore facilitating the free exchange of scientific information within SANAP research and allowing the SANAP community to build a society and include the new generation of researchers.
“Creation of a society informed on the value of marine and Antarctic research initiatives” was a strategy highlighted throughout the research themes discussed in the SANAP Symposium, these were the top five themes:
- Oceans and marine ecosystems under global change
- Earth systems observations
- Ecosystems, biodiversity and biodiscovery
- Innovation and development
- Human Enterprise
In addition, cross-cutting support interventions were identified and discussed during the symposium:
- Coordination and governance
- Human capital development and transformation
- Research capacity development
- Public awareness and engagement
- Research Infrastructure and platforms
- Data management
It was an incredible week of networking and exchanging expertise with various polar researchers from across the country and international collaborators. Over 150 researchers attended the symposium with most of them being early career researchers. It was quite exciting to see so many polar researchers together in one venue on the 1st of December for International Antarctic Day and to commemorate this special International Day the organizing committee planned an Antarctic Breakfast for all to join.
Some of the MARiS ECRs also had a few words to share about their experience attending the SANAP Symposium, read them below:
Safiyyah Moos, Chemical Engineering PhD student
It was a privilege to be part of the 6th SANAP Symposium. It was an excellently organised event that hosted a collaborative and knowledge-driven environment. By attending the SANAP Symposium, I was able to network and learn the various types of research being conducted in the SANAP community. Events such as these are extremely beneficial to facilitate knowledge and share ideas. I was able to meet many people from completely different aspects of research. It was an amazing experience as an early career researcher to see the many projects being funded by SANAP and to have been given an opportunity to showcase my own work.
Hayley Swait, Chemical Engineering MSc student
We embarked on an educational expedition at the 6th SANAP Symposium from the sub-Antarctic islands through the Southern Ocean to the Antarctic sea ice and continent itself culminating in a gaze into the cosmos. The sea ice team from MARiS took part in this amazing experience both presenting and absorbing information about the Southern region of the globe. I had an incredible time at the 6th SANAP symposium, learning and engaging with the larger polar research community. Listening in on the vast range of scientific topics I discovered an understanding of its diverse mammal inhabitants, intricate and ancient geomorphological formations and various other interesting topics about the Southern Ocean and Antarctica.
Rutger Marquart, Oceanography Postdoctoral Fellow
I really enjoyed the SANAP symposium. It offered a great chance to engage in valuable networking, connect with colleagues and have meaningful discussions with Antarctic scientists. Additionally, gaining a broad view of the Antarctic-related work conducted in South Africa was interesting and informative. I would like to use my expertise in sea ice modelling to keep on contributing to the SANAP community by improving global climate models through improved parameterization.
James van Niekerk, Chemical Engineering MSc student
The SANAP Symposium was my first proper conference. Although initially it was quite daunting, it was super interesting and fun. I got to connect with researchers from various backgrounds. This resulted in learning about topics I have never encountered as well as seeing different approaches to research that is similar to mine. It was a very wholesome week and I am glad that I had the opportunity to attend.
Riesna R. Audh, Oceanography PhD student
Participating in the SANAP symposium was a fantastic chance to connect with other Early Career Researchers (ECRs) engaged in Antarctic research. The wide range of scientific presentations spanning various fields not only captivated my interest but also expanded my outlook on the progress in Antarctic research, highlighting the interconnectedness of my work within the broader landscape. The symposium also provided a valuable networking opportunity, enabling connections with researchers across South Africa. The positive atmosphere and engaging discussions have left me enthusiastic about future symposiums, and I recognise their substantial contribution to my development as a researcher.
Wayne de Jager, Oceanography PhD student
Attending the week-long SANAP scientific research symposium was a wonderful experience. I got to learn about a variety of scientific fields, which was a great opportunity to be exposed to different areas of Antarctic research, and how individuals with varying skillsets can work together. This allowed me to see where my work fits into the bigger picture, as well as seeing some new ideas to take home. From a personal perspective, I thoroughly enjoyed spending time with my colleagues, and have made some new friends with similar interests. Overall, the symposium was a great experience that broadened my knowledge, expanded my network, and allowed me to integrate further into the polar science community as I progress along my career.
Anand Nair, Electrical Engineering MSc Student
Attending the SANAP Symposium was great exposure to other Antarctic- and Southern Ocean related research. I gained some valuable insight and an update of what is happening in the polar space. I am keen to be involved with cruises involving the Marginal Ice Zone or to SANAE IV. I would really like to see pancake ice in the flesh, especially after simulating it in computer models for such a long time now.
Watch Prof Marcello Vichi, Co-chair of the Polar and Digital Laboratories Project, introduce the design and the idea behind the project at the 6th SANAP Symposium held at the Houw Hoek Hotel in Grabouw on the 30 November 2023. Several researchers from the UCT Faculty of Engineering & the Built Environment, the Faculty of Science and external partners including the Department of Science and Innovation and the South African Polar Research Infrastructure (SAPRI) serve as members in this collaborative project, with Co-Chairs: Prof Pilate Moyo (Dept. of Civil Engineering) and Prof Marcello Vichi (Dept. of Oceanography).
This project proposes to establish Laboratory Facilities to house interdisciplinary research on 1) Urban and Public Infrastructure and 2) Polar Research. The intersections between these two fields of study are climate change and digital technologies. Both programs seek to exploit digital technologies (big data analytics, digital twins, virtual reality, internet of things and sensing technologies, etc.) to develop an in-depth understanding of climate change impacts on physical infrastructure and the cryosphere. In addition, this facility will become the hub of transformative teaching & learning at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels, and an international centre of excellence on the African continent.
For more information on the project, please contact Prof Marcello Vichi via email at email@example.com.