STUDENT SPOTLIGHT: WELLY QWABE, PhD CANDIDATE
I grew up in a small village called Ponta Malongane, in Southern Mozambique and attended school in a small rural town called Kosi Bay in Northern Kwazulu Natal. I studied further at the University of Zululand, where I obtained a first class BSc degree in Biological Sciences and later an Honours degree in Zoology. I then went on to join the University of Cape Town’s Marine Research Institute in 2011 to pursue a Masters in Zoology, with support from the Canon Collins Trust, the National Research Foundation and the Carnegie and Andrew Mellon Foundation.
I obtained my Masters degree at the end of 2012, and was awarded a Green Matter Fellowship to undertake a PhD in Biological Science at UCT. My current research focuses on understand the interaction between upwelling and ecosystem engineering in structuring benthic assemblages at various spatial and temporal scales in the Langebaan Lagoon. I believe that fundamental ecological research has an important role to play in ensuring assist with policy development and biodiversity conservation. I has also spend a lot of time volunteering with an NGO in southern Mozambique, which works on conservation of sea turtles, and as a keen diver, I have contributed a number of popular articles to a regional diving magazine (SA divestyle magazine).
I am very passionate about inspiring the next generation of ecologists. While completing my Masters, I joined UCT’s Career Guidance Programme to speak to secondary school learners about furthering their education and career choices. During this time, I was also appointed by the faculty of Science to mentor first year students at UCT and I now mentor students that are personally recruited from disadvantaged schools, assisting with their placement at different universities in South Africa. Through mentorship, I aim to encourage the pursuit of higher education in students from underprivileged families; this is my way giving back to communities.