Ms Nicole van Vuuren
Biochemistry, Genetics and Microbiology
As a curious individual, I have always been drawn to science, particularly microorganisms. In 2018 I was awarded the opportunity to partake in the Centre for Plant Health and Biotechnology (CPHB) mentorship program offered by FABI at the University of Pretoria. This experience allowed me to develop my confidence, and nurture my passion for fungi. In 2023, I joined the CPHB mentorship program once again, this time as a mentor.
I completed my undergraduate degree in BSc Microbiology in 2018. With a passion for research I pursued and completed my BScHons Microbiology in 2019 which focused on delineation of Paraburkholderia species using an evolutionary and comparative genomic approach. In 2020 I joined the Applied Mycology group and started my MSc on the fungal diversity associated with Stipagrostis ciliata of the fairy rings in the Namib desert. Part of this work was presented in the form of a graphical abstract at the Mycological Society of America (MSA) Meeting 2020. Furthermore, this work was presented at the South African Society of Plant Pathology (SASPP) meeting in 2022, for which I was selected as a top twelve contender for best poster presentation. I was awarded my MSc Microbiology with distinction 2022. I am currently enrolled for a PhD focusing on the diversity of Penicillium in soils across South Africa.
I am a lab manager in FABI and I am the student microscopy administrator for FABI. Additionally, I have been elected as the Co-Chairperson of the Biochemistry, Genetics and Microbiology (BGM) Postgraduate Student Committee for the year 2022-2023. Moreover, I have joined the CPHB Mentorship Program as a mentor.
A team of FABIans travelled to Cape Town for the second sample collection trip for the recently-launched South African Soil SurveY (SASSY) research project.
Twelve undergraduate students will gain hands-on experience in research laboratories as mentees in the CPHB Mentorship programme for 2023.
The SASSY Project kicked off with the collection of soil samples from 11 nature reserves.