Masters by Course Work


Michelle Atkinson
Michelle is currently studying in Bergen, Norway, and will join the course in the second half of the year.

Monique Boucher

Monique is originally from Johannesburg. She completed her undergraduate degree (BSc) at UCT, majoring in Zoology. In 2005 she graduated from UCT with her Honours degree in marine biology. She completed two research projects during her Honours year. The first project involved the analysis of stomach samples of the Cape fur seal Arctocephalus pusillus pusillus to determine their diet. Her second project aimed at determining the fecundity of the west coast rock lobster Jasus lalandii, and assessing whether changes in fecundity reflect environmental change over the past 20 years. She is currently enrolled in the Applied Marine Science Masters programme.


Hazel Dickens

Hazel is from George in the Western Cape. She completed her BSc at UCT in 2004 with majors in both Ocean & Atmosphere Science and Zoology. She then completed her BSc Honours in Physical Oceanography in 2005. Her Honours project studied the effects of the African Penguin colony on Robben Island on the seawater quality of the intertidal zone. During her Honours year, she took part in the relief voyage of the SA Agulhas to Marion Island as part of a joint multidisciplinary scientific team made up of Oceanography students from UCT and Marine Biology students from Rhodes University. The study was on the effects of a cold-core eddy on the ecosystem surrounding the Prince Edward Islands, and was intensive, with two teams collecting CTD and XBT data for 12-hour shifts throughout the day and night (which was the better team). Hazel has never lived far from the beach, and that led to an interest in the ocean and subsequently her application to the Applied Marine Science Master’s programme.

Tarryn-Lee Duthie

Tarryn is from Johannesburg. She completed her undergraduate degree (BSc) at the Rand Afrikaans University, in Johannesburg, majoring in Zoology and Biochemistry. She continued her studies at the University of Cape Town, graduating in 2005 with her Honours degree in Marine Biology. Her first project during her Honours year was on the Maputaland loggerhead, Caretta caretta, and leatherback, Dermochelys coriacea, turtles. Her second project examined endolith infestation intensities of three mussel species found in South Africa. She is currently enrolled in the Applied Marine Science Masters programme at UCT.


Hymne Ferreira

Hymne was born in the Free State, but her life-long passion has been to become a marine biologist. She graduated as a Zoology and Aquatic Health Honours student at the University of Johannesburg (RAU). After studying at RAU, she was given a chance to broaden her knowledge in the field of environmental consulting. She worked as a consultant at WSP, where she had the opportunity to apply her studies on a wide variety of projects and to familiarise herself with the process of EIA, assessment of impacts and baseline studies. Although she thoroughly enjoyed working in the environmental management industry in Gauteng, her dream had always been to work with marine environments, and to understand the ways in which marine systems operate, at all levels. To her, marine biology is an excellent blend of academic learning and outdoor experience, and the chance to study marine environments has been a major step forward in her career aspirations.

Yonela Geja

Yonela is from Queenstown in the Eastern Cape. He completed his BSc degree (with majors in Entomology and Zoology) and his Honours degree at the University of Fort Hare in 2003 and 2004 respectively. His honours project was entitled “Tooth count variation, vicariance and the distribution of ragged tooth sharks in South African waters (Carcharias taurus)”. This project involved taking tooth counts from excised jaws of raggies that are held at Bayworld Aquarium in Port Elizabeth. The counts were compared with counts obtained from widely separated populations of the same species from the East China Sea and Argentina; these counts were already published in the literature. His work experience is based on vacation jobs; in 2001 he worked at Marine and Coastal Management (MCM) in Cape Town where he carried out egg counts for three clupeoid fish species: anchovy, sardine and red-eye. In 2002 he worked with acoustic data from survey cruises that were conducted by MCM in 2001. In 2003 he was took part in a demersal survey cruise, which is also conducted by MCM. These vacation jobs sparked his interest in doing the Masters in Applied Marine Science. His project for his Masters dissertation is entitled “Age determination of west coast and east coast redeye round herring (Etrumeus whiteheadi and Etrumeus teres)”.

Mzukisi Gwata

Mzukisi is currently employed by the South African Weather Services.






James Howard

James originates from the UK and did his undergraduate studies at Imperial College at the University of London. He graduated in June 2005 with a Bachelor of Science degree with Honours in Biology. He has, however, spent a large proportion of his childhood in southern Africa and has always had an interest in conservation and environmental issues. During university summer holidays he has done volunteer research work in Malawi and Zambia, giving him necessary skills in field biology. Unfortunately, there was little scope to study Marine Biology/Sciences within his undergraduate course, however his final year project was focused around an applied ecological issue. This involved investigating the influence of different formulations in promoting the efficacy of entomo-pathogenic nematodes on foliar pests. This is a growing area of biocontrol of pests and could prove effective in reducing the amount of chemical pesticides used in agricultural business. Since leaving university he has carried out volunteer research work in Namibia for three months. This involved helping a PhD student collect data on black backed jackals. The work ranged from behaviour studies to gathering genetic information in order to determine relatedness of jackal groups as well as home range (GIS) data. Despite these experiences he wishes to have a change of direction in his studies and pursue his growing interest in the field of marine science.

Michael J. Likunama

Michael is a Tanzanian, working with the Tanzania Meteorological Agency as a meteorologist dealing with weather forecasting. He obtained his first degree, a BSc. Meteorology, in 1993 at Reading University, UK. Currently he is studying Applied Marine Science at the University of Cape Town, and hopes to develop a better understanding of climate variability, related to the fact that Tanzania has been facing famine for the past few decades. Rainfall variability has increased the frequency of droughts in most parts of the country, affecting agriculture, forestry, water, coastal resources, livestock and human health. The Tanzania Meteorological Agency has been trying to train more staff to be able to attain competent skilled personnel. The vulnerability to impacts of climate variability is a big issue in Tanzania, and has inspired Michael to do research to identify sources of rainfall variability. This may improve seasonal forecasting and create awareness among the public about the usefulness of meteorological data.

Saiguran Loisulie

Saiguran was born on 23 September 1973 in Arusha, Tanzania and both his parents are traditional Maasai. He graduated with a BSc. in Environmental Sciences and Management from the Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA) in Morogoro, Tanzania in November 2003. After his graduation he was employed as a Tutorial Assistant in Meteorology at SUA in the Faculty of Science. After teaching for one year he came to UCT in February 2005 to do a Masters in Applied Marine Science (Oceanography). In his first year he completed a project on the Modelling of Tanzanian Rainfall Variability, aimed at validating the third version of the Hadley Atmospheric Model (HadAM3), which is a global climate model, over Tanzania by using the ENSO/IOZM induced rainfall of Oct-Jan 1997/98. During the course of his project he was exposed to online climate databases and climate data analysis using MS Excel, GraDS and Matlab. He also had a chance to attend a Winter School at AIMS where he was exposed to GNU/Linux, Open Source Software, Octave and Python. On completion of this MSc he is planning to do a Masters Diploma in Mathematical Modelling and Computer Programming to sharpen his mathematical and programming skills before doing a PhD in Climate Dynamics Modelling. Besides teaching at SUA, his long term goal is to become an internationally renowned researcher in Climate Dynamics Modelling.

Thebe Mamakoko

Thebe is currently employed by the South African Weather Services.






Qayiso Mketsu

Qayiso is from King Williams Town in the Eastern Cape. He graduated with a BSc from the University of Fort Hare in 2003, majoring in Zoology and Chemistry, and with a BSc (Hons) at the same institution in 2004. For his Honours degree, he did a project on the Coelacanth, looking at its likely distribution range (from Kenton-on-Sea to Tanzania). The results showed that there is suitable habitat that continues northwards. To the south near Kenton-on-Sea, the caves where the fish might occur are too deep and the temperatures are too cold. This seems then to be the limit of their range, and the animal found by Courtney-Latimer was right at the edge of the distribution range. For his Masters degree, he will be looking at the feeding and diet of small pelagic fish such as anchovy, sardine and round herring along South Africa’s east coast. This study should help clarify what these fish are feeding on in the region, and preliminary results indicate that small crustaceans and fish eggs dominate their diets.

Mohammed Ngwali

Mohammed is from Tanzania. He graduated in 1992 from the Hydrometeorological Institute of Odessa in the Ukraine (former USSR), specializing in meteorology. He qualified as a meteorologist with a Masters degree in engineering meteorology. A few months later he joined the Institute for Meteorological Training and Research in Nairobi, Kenya in order to do an operational training course. He also attended on-the-job training in the field of meteorology at the Institute of Meteorology and Water Management in Warsaw, Poland and a workshop on tropical cyclones and public awareness at the Regional Tropical Cyclones Centre in Reunion. Mohammed is an employee of the Tanzania Meteorological Agency, based at the Zanzibar zonal office. His main duties are to participate in operations of all weather activities in the forecast office and to provide weather forecasts. Currently he is a student at the University of Cape Town in the Department of Oceanography, attending the Masters by coursework and dissertation in Applied Marine Science. He hopes that the course will provide added expertise that allows him to improve his performance and working ability.

Tiago Queiroz

Tiago was born in Angola, Luanda. Since he was a child he felt a big attraction to the ocean, so when he grew up… he did a degree in Marine Science – Physical Oceanography at ULHT University (Universidade Lusfona de Humanidades e Tecnologias….big name!!) in Lisboa, Portugal. When he graduated (end of 2003) he returned to Luanda to start working at UAN (Universidade Agostinho Neto), where he joined the Dept of Geophysics as a junior researcher. At this point, he also joined the BCLME programme, and in September 2004 he came to UCT, where he has been working on numerical modelling using the ROMS model applied to the South Atlantic Ocean. The project in which he has been working is on Low Oxygen Variability in the Benguela System: Equatorial Benguela Linkage. In the future, Tiago is going to finish his coursework at the University of Bergen, where he has been accepted on a student exchange programme between the two universities. After his MSc, he will probably continue with research linked to regional research programmes in Marine Science.

Snyman Sekele

Snyman is currently employed by the South African Weather Services.






Melanie Smith

Melanie, a South African who completed her undergraduate degree (BSc) at the University of Cape Town in 2004, majoring in Oceanography, Environmental and Geographical Science and specializing in Social Anthropology. Staying at UCT, she completed her Oceanography Honours degree in 2005. Her Honours year consisted of a five week research cruise to Marion Island aboard the SA Agulhas. During this trip she assisted with the deployment of advanced technical instruments, data capturing and analysing cold core eddies and their effects on the Marion Island ecosystems. Her Honours thesis consisted of an intense research project on the effects of varying water replacement rates and subsequently varying water quality in an abalone purging system. Her interest in the Applied Marine Science course is to expand her knowledge of human and environmental impacts on the biodiversity of marine and coastal organisms.

Robert Williamson

Robert is from Cape Town. He graduated from UCT in 2004 with a BSc majoring in both Ocean and Atmospheric Science, and Environmental and Geographical Science. He also completed undergraduate courses in Zoology. From November to January 2004/5 Robert participated in the CROZEX expedition to the Crozet Islands aboard the RRS Discovery. The expedition was a multidisciplinary initiative of the Southampton Oceanographic Centre to investigate a naturally occurring phytoplankton bloom around the islands in essentially iron-depleted Southern Ocean water. Robert was involved in phytoplankton sampling and chlorophyll determinations. In 2005 he graduated with an honours degree (first class) in Physical Oceanography. His honours project investigated the erosion processes along a log-spiral bay on the south coast of South Africa. This study led to an interest in climate change and its impact on the coastal environment and subsequently his application to the Applied Marine Science master’s programme.