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Reasons to be Proud - #R2bP: Three master’s students and a post-doctorate candidate from Mandela University’s Palaeoecology Lab will present their research at conferences in Rome and Berlin later this month.  


The Palaeoecology Lab, under the leadership of Dr Lynne Quick, is associated with the University’s African Centre for Coastal Palaeoscience and focuses on pollen studies, with a strong geographic emphasis on the Cape south coast and the Cape Floristic Region in general.

From left, Dr Bongekile Zwane, Erin Hilmer, Asithandile Ntsondwa and Luke Nel

The topic of postdoctoral candidate Dr Bongekile Zwane’s research is wood charcoal from Knysna Eastern Heads Cave 1 as evidence for the impact of the Last Glacial Maximum climate on woody vegetation and people of the Palaeo-Agulhas Plain, southern Africa. She will present her studies at the International Union for Quaternary Research Conference in Rome.

Master’s students Erin Hilmer and Asithandile Ntsondwa will also present their projects at this conference. Erin focuses on establishing connections between contemporary vegetation distributions, modern pollen representation and the fossil pollen record in the Cape Floristic Region.

In addition, Erin is the senior laboratory technician at the Palaeoecology Lab, managing Gqeberha’s only pollen and spore trap and generates weekly pollen and spore data for the city. This work forms part of a national monitoring network (

Her fellow master’s student Asithandile Ntsondwa is working on reconstructing the fire history and palaeoenvironment at Thyspunt in the southern Cape.  

Another master’s student Luke Nel will share his master's research at the 8th General Assembly of the International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics in Berlin on past climate changes and their relevance for the future.

He focuses on extracting more ecological significant information from the southern Cape fossil pollen record and a reassessment of the Asteraceae Pollen types within the Eilandvlei sequence.

Contact information
Ms Elma de Koker
Internal Communication Practitioner
Tel: 041-504 2160