Masters by Course Work


Paul Begley

Paul completed his BSc (Hons), majoring in Geographical Science, at the University of Leicester, in June 2002. For his second year he took an ERASMUS scholarship and the opportunity to study at the University of Oulu, Finland. In 2001, he enjoyed work with the water quality department of the North Ostrobothnian Regional Environmental Centre, and based his third year research project on data collected during these two months. He also actively participated at the “Northern Boreal Rivers Conference”, as a member of this agency.

Since completing his studies, Paul has worked in the Plant Health Division at the Department of Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs (Defra) (UK). Whilst at Defra, he gained insight into the complex procedures required for environmental protection laws. He hopes that his Masters at UCT will expand on his understanding of conservation of ocean health, circulation patterns and beach processes.

Gcobani Popose

Gcobani was born in 1976 in Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa. In 1999 he completed a BSc degree in Chemistry and Zoology at the University of Fort Hare in Alice, South Africa. After completing the BSc degree, he spent 14 months at the Sub-Antarctic Marion Island under the SANAP (DEA&T) programme collecting data as a Biological Field Assistant for the Percy FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology (University of Cape Town). The project, which is run by the Institute, looked at the impact that long-lining has on Marion Island’s wandering albatrosses and other seabird populations. The data collected in the project showed that longline fishing is impacting seabird populations around that part of the world. Through this project he developed an interest in Ornithology and Fisheries science in general, especially the population models used to predict the future state of natural marine resources.

In 2001 he came back to Cape Town (South Africa) where he completed a BSc Honours (Zoology) degree under the Supervision of Dr Peter Ryan. The dissertation for the degree studied the breeding biology and population dynamics of whitechinned petrels at Marion Island.

For 12 months in 2002, he undertook training in Fisheries Management under the NORAD programme with Marine and Coastal Management (DEAT).

Mary Tress

Mary graduated in May 2002 with a BSc in Marine Biology and a Minor in Chemistry from The University of North Carolina Wilmington. Her Honors thesis involved the development and behavioural analyses of bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) signature whistles. More specifically, she focused on finding the signature whistle of a bottlenose dolphin calf and traced its development. As a freshman she was invited to be a member of the T.U.R.S.I.O.P.S. lab at the Center for Marine Science Research in North Carolina. Her three years of lab and field work included photo identification, dolphin behaviour, and whistle data collection and analyses. She was also a member of UNCW’s Stranded Mammal Network, which has authority to assess and aid stranded mammals along the eastern U.S. coast. During her senior year at UNCW she was chosen as the Supplemental Instructor for Genetics, providing help and instruction to Biology students outside the classroom. Her interests include sharks, marine mammals, and fisheries biology.

Emile van der Borch van Verwolde

After completing his BSc (Environmental Science) at the University of Delft in nature, agriculture, food and management, Emile decided to come to South Africa to study Oceanography. During his Environmental Science studies he had done training periods and his graduation project (Thesis) abroad.




Zoe van Helmond

Zoe graduated with an honours degree in Zoology from the University of Durham, U.K. Having always been a keen netball player, she was awarded “Sportswoman of the Year” upon leaving university after captaining her college team. Between her second and third years at university she took part in a conservation expedition to the Philippines where her interest in Marine Science began. Her final year dissertation used a human model to research into the evolution of co-operation. Once graduated, she travelled around Australia for fourteen months, spending most of her time working on dive boats, along the Great Barrier Reef, as a Divemaster. Upon returning to the UK she was employed by the government to work as a microbiologist, specific to the diagnosis of tuberculosis and anthrax. After working for the civil service for a year, she accepted an offer to work at The Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute. Here, she was employed as a DNA sequencer, working on the Human Genome Project, as well as the mouse and zebrafish genomes. Zoe hopes that her time at UCT will fulfil her wish to enter a career in Marine Science.

Ruth Wright

Ruth completed her BSc in Zoology and Botany at the University of Cape Town from 1996 to 1998. During this time Ruth completed the Scientific Class 4 diving qualification and was also frequently found in the pool playing underwater hockey. Directly following this she did her Honours degree in 1999 in Marine Biology. once again at the University of Cape Town. During her Honours year of study, she wrote a mini-thesis on the parasitism of a local fish species, the Cape Hottentot in False Bay, by a parasitic isopod (fish louse), the results of which were later published.

Soon after her Honours degree was completed, she was hired as a research biologist on an abalone aquaculture farm in Hermanus, which specifically cultured perlemoen (Haliotis midae). Ruth worked at the abalone farm for a period of 3 years and here she was required to do experiments looking at increasing abalone growth rates, limiting the spread of sabellid (a parasitic fanworm), the inspection and ongrowing of juvenile abalone that were received by the farm and a number of pilot studies looking at the ongrowing of juvenile west coast rock lobster. After working for a number of years in the field of aquaculture, Ruth is eager to move into conservation, specifically looking at ecosystems within the marine environment.

Alex van Praag

Alex was born close to the beach in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania. He studied biology at the University of London, Royal Holloway. He also participated in a Tropical Ecology field course at San Jose, Costa Rica in 2001, which gave him some experience of the biodiversity found within Central America. The diverse ecosystems found there were a fascinating contrast to the temperate ecosystems he was used to observing in Europe. For his undergraduate dissertation, he studied the diverse population dynamics of endoparasites found in common freshwater fishes from South Eastern England. He found that size, age and feeding patterns of the fish depicted the species and abundance of the parasite found within the fish. Alex received his honours degree in Zoological Studies during the summer of 2002. He hopes to effectively use his masters in Marine Science at UCT to increase his understanding of how human development impacts marine ecosystems.