FABI hosted a visit by a group of 23 final year BSc in Agriculture (Plant Production and Horticulture) students from the University of Venda on 4 October. The group was led by the Head of the Department Plant and Soil Sciences, Prof. Godwin Mchau, along with Dr Odeshnee Naicker (Senior lecturer - Plant pathology), Ms. Terry Leboho (Laboratory technician – Plant Production), and Ms. Mashudu Makhado (Horticultural Science). FABI, through the DSI-NRF Centre of Excellence in Plant Health Biotechnology (CPHB), has had a long association with the University of Venda through joint research projects and student exchanges. The group were welcomed by the Director of the CPHB, Prof. Emma Steenkamp and Program Manager, Prof. Martin Coetzee.  Ms Benedicta Swalarsk-Parry, a PhD student linked to the CPHB, gave an inspiring talk during which she shared her views on being a postgraduate students and how to be successful in life.  The group was then taken on a tour of the Institute’s labs and facilities including the culture collection lab, diagnostic clinic, as well as the sequencing facility. As a final stop at FABI, Dr Thabiso Motaung discussed his research on biofilms with the group and demonstrated some of the methods that he use in the laboratory for his research.

The group spent the morning at FABI before moving to the Future Africa campus on the University of Pretoria’s Innovation Africa campus where Dr Osmond Mlonyeni spoke to the group about his personal journey from being a young first year university student to completing his PhD degree in FABI to becoming a Project Manager at Innovation Africa @UP. In his talk he demonstrated how success was not achieved without hard work and dedication. Their visit concluded with a visit to the FABI biocontrol centre where they were informed about how research conducted in FABI is being applied in biocontrol projects in the forestry and agricultural industries.