What is your current role? Tell us a bit about your line of research.

I obtained a PhD in Biotechnology from Free State University in 2015 and subsequently completed postdoctoral studies with the Agricultural Research Council and South African Sugarcane Research Institute, respectively. I joined the academic staff at the University of Pretoria (Department of Biochemistry, Genetics and Microbiology) in September 2019, as a lecturer and a supervisor for postgraduate research projects.

I am part of a diverse research team based in the Forestry and Agricultural Biotechnology Institute, located on the University of Pretoria campus. My primary research interest lies in understanding the molecular basis of microbial pathogen interaction with plants. I am leveraging a molecular genetic approach in addressing this research area, particularly focusing on how small RNA molecules and extracellular membrane vesicles influence the virulence of forest pathogens.

What are you excited about in science communication?

Evolving technology (and partly the COVID-19 pandemic) have radically reshaped the way we think about communicating science, making it relatively simple for crucial scientific data to be shared globally and made public. These are certainly exciting times for me to be a scientist as they demand capacity to discriminate between science information and misinformation, the varying and weird interpretations of it, and matching or contrasting these with reality or wider relevance to society.

Why did you choose to participate in the ASAPbio Fellows program?

I chose to participate in the ASAPbio Fellows program to further improve my knowledge about the preprint landscape, to stay well-informed with latest developments around preprints and, ultimately, to raise awareness around the productive use and potential benefits of preprints in my country.

Ask me about…

Professional responsibilities outside of my job description, I serve in the advisory subcommittee conducting risk assessments of biotechnologies for the National Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries; as an ethics division coordinator for the University of Pretoria; as an invited peer reviewer at various science journals and Competitive Programme for Rated Researchers for the National Research Foundation of South Africa; and now as a Fellow and community member for ASAPbio.