Page 173 - UCT Research Report 2011

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PERC funds
key bird study
The African continent is host to the great majority
of weaver species in the world – 112 of 117.
Mapping the breeding distribution and analysing
variations in colony sizes of these species is
the goal of PHOWN (Photos of Weaver Nests,, a project
of the Animal Demography Unit and the creation of
Dr Dieter Oschadleus. The mapping project helps
to address issues of food security (certain weaver
species are voracious consumers of grain), as
well as to measure the impact of climate change.
PHOWN has an electronic database of more than
2 500 records and invites ‘citizen scientists’ to take
photographs of weaver bird nests (with date, GPS
coordinates, and preferably a nest count) wherever
they see them and to record these in PHOWN,
where they can be archived and accessed.
Professor Les Underhill and Dr Oschadleus received
a grant from PERC to extend the activities of PHOWN
into Africa. Dr Oschadleus recently presented
papers on results from PHOWN, and par ticipated
in a roundtable discussion at the National Museum
of Kenya in Nairobi (Kenya is the country with the
highest diversity of weaver species – over 60 – of
any country in the world). The overall aim is to
increase the photographic record for West, Central,
and East Africa.
In 2011 the Research Office also provided support
for initiatives in the creative disciplines, including the
Department of Drama’s initiatives to produce PhDs, and
the establishment of the
South African Journal of Dance
in the School of Dance.
Since shortly after its inception the ERP has been awarding
modest grants for research development purposes.
Recipients are primarily researchers participating in the
ERP, although under certain conditions mid-career staff
who have been through the ERP are considered as well.
The entire grants process is used as a capacity-building
exercise, from assistance in developing the proposal and
submitting the application through to the production of
appropriate outputs that correspond to goals identified
in the proposal itself. Monitoring of grants and individual
mentoring support throughout the process is offered by
one of the RD co-ordinators. In this way, the ERP aims
to equip researchers with the skills required to compete
successfully for external grants.
In 2011 grants in excess of R4 million were awarded.
These included 77 research development grants
with an average value of R40,000 each. A further 16
grants were awarded for PhD completions. Nearly
80 percent of the funding for these grants came
from the Carnegie Corporation, with university funds
supporting the remainder.
Supervisors in training
Supervision training is open to all academic staff.
Supervision training workshops are offered twice a year
in both the SET and SSLHC streams, and are led by
senior, experienced UCT academics or retirees and RD
co-ordinators. The interactive nature of the programme
is an important feature, as participants continue to be
drawn from a wide range of academic areas and levels
of experience, in addition to young staff who are still
completing their higher degrees. In 2011, supervision
training workshops were attended by a total of 73 staff
across both streams.
Granting opportunities: the
Programme for the Enhancement
of Research Capacity
While also supporting the development of research
capacity, PERC specifically assists academics to achieve
National Research Foundation rating and promotes
research that is consistent with UCT’s strategic goal to
be a model research-led university that is mindful of its
location in Africa.
Since its inception in 2009, 15 PERC grants have been
awarded, ranging in value from R150,000 to R165,000.
The grants are designed to promote collaborative, inter-
disciplinary, Africa-oriented research. One of the major
research support