On 11-12 October a team from the DST-NRF Centre of Excellence in Tree Health Biotechnology (CTHB) visited the University of Venda (UniVen) in Thohoyandou in the Limpopo Province. The group included Prof Emma Steenkamp (CTHB director), Dr Martin Coetzee (CTHB core team member) and Prof Bernard Slippers (CTHB core team member and Director of FABI). 

This visit was linked to the strong collaboration that has developed between the University of Venda and the University of Pretoria via the CTHB. The interaction includes the funding of the bursaries of the students, part of their running cost and sharing of supervision responsibility. Research projects are linked to the communities and research areas to which UniVen has unique access, and that overlap with CTHB objectives and research strength. Students complete much of their laboratory work as well as receive additional training in FABI. Seven MSc and two PhD students have completed or are currently completing their degrees through this program. 

The visit was organised by Prof Ednah Kunjeko, who is a member of the Advisory Committee of the CTHB and a key anchor for the CTHB-UniVen interaction. Prof Kunjeko is a co-supervisor on all of the students from University of Venda that are funded and co-supervised via the CTHB and its team members. Prof Kunjeko supports the recruitment and selection of the students, the field-work and logistics around this, and supports the management of their projects and its academic supervision. 

The CTHB team engaged with Prof Jan Crafford (Vice Chancellor, UniVen), Prof Moses Marenya (Acting Dean, School of Agriculture) and Prof Eastonce Gwata (CTHB Team Member and HOD - Plant Production). The visit was concluded by a discussion of a number of current undergraduate students who might in future continue their postgraduate work via the CTHB-UniVen partnership, followed by a lunch with the researchers and students involved in this partnership. 

This was a fruitful visit that reinforced the strong commitment from the CTHB and UniVen leadership, the researchers involved and the students whose lives have been transformed in the process, to build on the strong foundation that has been laid. We hope to see more students trained, excellent science produced and published and more impact in the communities linked to UniVen. 

The team needs to especially thank Prof Kunjeko and Dr Coetzee for the many years of passion and energy they have injected into building the CTHB-UniVen bridge, but also to all the team members for their support and the students for that hard work and enthusiasm.