SAAB Awards 2019

Dr P. Hills (SAAB President 2018); Dr Alanna Rebelo; Prof KJ Esler (Supervisor)

Bronze medal winner 2019- Dr. Alanna Rebelo

The prestigious bronze medal of the South African Association of Botanist (SAAB) for the best PhD thesis in 2018 was awarded to Dr. Alanna Rebelo for her thesis titled “Ecosystem Services of Palmiet Wetlands: The Role of Ecosystem Composition and Function”.  She accomplished this under the supervision of Prof. Karen Esler at Stellenbosch University and Prof. Patrick Meire from the University of Antwerpen. In her PhD dissertation, Dr. Alanna Rebelo aimed to determine if plant functional traits can be detected using remote-sensing techniques in order to map ecosystem services generated by Palmiet wetlands.

A phenomenal seven publications emerged from her PhD, all in well-ranked international journals. The review paper she co-produced in 2017, asking if ecosystem services are adequately quantified, is well on its way to becoming a citation classic, having garnered 73 citations in just over a year. Other than scientific publications, Alanna remains committed to communicating her findings to broader society in a variety of non-academic formats.

The best part of this story is that for her post-doctoral research, Alanna is now using her unique set of skills – developed during the course of her PhD – to strengthen the case for investment into the ecological infrastructure of our river systems.

Alanna is grateful towards SAAB for recognizing the exceptional value of her work – anchored in the botanical sciences, but also interfacing uniquely with other disciplines.


Best PhD: Analike Blom van Staden

Best MSc: Gugu Gama

Best Honours Student: Mompati Vincent Chakale

Best Young Scientist: Ryan Rattray

Best Poster in Ecology: Dakalo Muthego

Best Poster in Ecophysiology: Elizabeth Ofentse Mathibela

Best Poster in Ethnobotany: Mpho Mary Mashigo

Best Poster in Invasion Biology: Blair Cowie