MSc student


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Research Profiles

Co Supervisor
Mike Wingfield
Jeff Garnas

I am an MSc student at the University of Pretoria, department of Genetics. I am a member of the Forestry and Agriculture Biotechnology Institute (FABI) and the Tree Protection Co-operative Programme (TPCP). I completed undergraduate degree in Genetics in 2009 at the University of Pretoria, and my BSc (Hons) in Genetics in 2010 at the University of Pretoria, under the supervision of Prof Bernard Slippers.

My masters research focused on the highly invasive woodwasp Sirex noctilio and its’ symbiotic fungus Amylostereum areolatum. I investigated the specificity of the Sirex - Amylostereum mutualism in recently invaded areas in Eastern North America.  I also investigated the persistence of highly male-biased sex ratios of S. noctilio in South Africa. My PhD will focus on sex determination in S. noctilio.

Aside from my research project, I am passionate about communicating the wonder of science to the youth and am involved in two annual programmes aimed at inspiring young people to follow careers in science, namely UP with Science and National Science Week.

UP with Science is a science enrichment programme for secondary school learners presented by the University of Pretoria (http://www.upwithscience.up.ac.za/). I work with the Grade 11 learners who are given the opportunity to conduct a micro-research project from conception to final presentation. This project runs from February to July. The aim of this project is to give the learners a glimpse of what a scientific research entails as well as to get them exited about pursuing science as a career.

2013 UP with Science learners sorting samples

National Science week is a Department of Science and Technology (DST) initiative hosted in simultaneously at multiple sites in all nine provinces of South Africa. The initiative is managed by the South African Agency for Science and Technology Advancement (SAATA, http://www.saasta.ac.za/), a business unit of the National Research Foundation (NFR). This initiative is aimed at all members of the public, particularly young learners and endeavours to inspire these learners to choose maths and science subjects in school.


A team of post graduate students from FABI, including myself participate at the MONDI Science centre in Piet Retief, Mpumulanga. I have participated for the past three years. At this event we have hosted learners from Grade 1 to Matric. We use interesting science experiments to demonstrate basic science principles and try to emphasise the fact that although we are not physicists or chemists, we can still learn about and understand these disciplines because we have training as scientists. We encourage the learners to actively participate in these experiments so they can get hands on experience about how much fun science is!


A teacher getting involved in the experiment 'Walking on eggs'!

Export to RIS
Wooding AL, Wingfield MJ, Hurley BP, Garnas JR, De Groot P, Slippers B. (2013) Lack of fidelity revealed in an insect-fungal mutualism after invasion. Biology Letters 9(4):1-4. 10.1098/rsbl.2013.0609 PDF
Wooding AL, Wingfield MJ, Hurley BP, Garnas JR, De Groot P, Slippers B. (2013) Lack of fidelity revealed in an insect–fungal mutualism after invasion. Biology letters 9(4):20130342. PDF