Against All Odds – #AfricanWomenInScience

Science Diary of a Single Mum

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White Rhinos in Lake Nakuru National Park, 2015

It is estimated that there are only about 5,000 black rhinos left in the wild in Africa – making the black rhino right up on the top of the CRITICALLY endangered species list. In comparison, there are about 20,000 white rhinos left in the wild with the largest population of these being in South Africa. Against all odds the white rhino population has been “revamped” due to concerted efforts and the loud conservationist voices crying out SAVE THE RHINO! By 1993, the black rhino population had declined by about 96%, and again, against all odds that number has risen to ~5,000 in the recent few years. Even more interesting, against all odds the Southern white rhino was saved from the brink of extinction where we had only about 50 surviving in the wild at one time to the current numbers. Surely against…

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Fall armyworm – and how viruses could help combat the plague.

ViroBlogy

Kenneth Wilson of the Univ of Lancaster has recently written a blog post on the plagues of African and “Fall” armyworms (aka caterpillars, larvae of moth species in the genus Spodoptera) that are currently chewing their way through southern African maize and other crops. I wrote the following as a comment to his blog.

Nice article – which very ably demonstrates the perils of importing agricultural pests from elsewhere!

I am interested that you wrote:
“There are non-chemical, biological pesticides that could also be effective. These are pesticides derived from natural diseases of insects, such as viruses, fungi and bacteria.”

Some years back (OK, nearly 30) Barbara von Wechmar in the then Microbiology Dept was instrumental in our finding a number of insect viruses that were seriously lethal to aphids and green stinkbugs. These were inadvertent discoveries, which happened three times – twice with different viruses for aphids which…

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Evelyn Nguleka shattered the agricultural ceiling

trailblazer, and all we can do learn to emulate her positive traits. polarising even in death, one wishes she could live to see the last day in court.

Sincerely Zambian Human Interest

NKOLE NKOLE

Lusaka

evy Former Word Farmers’ Organisation (WFO) and  Zambia National Farmers’ Union (ZNFU) president, Evelyn Nguleka is remembered as a bold advocate for the small scale farmer.

THE agricultural world has lost a pioneer and the smallholder African farmer, a fierce advocate who used her passion and influence to speak on their behalf.
Evelyn Nguleka, who died in Lusaka on Saturday after an

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Agonising over the loss of liberal ideals 

Very sad development

Ed Rybicki's Blog

I am conflicted. Seriously conflicted. I have been at the University of Cape Town since 1974, as a student, postgraduate and academic; I have been here through the unrest periods of 1976, the 1980s, the 1990s, and now the 20teens.

And never before have I felt as alienated or depressed about being here as I do now.

Seriously: even though I demonstrated in 1976, 1985 and in the 1990s, and agonised about leaving in 1990 (saved by Mandela being released), it was not my institution that was the target of protest – and now it is.

To describe why, I must describe the context: this is of an institution that is the oldest western-style university in Africa, one of the oldest in the southern hemisphere, and which leads Africa as a teaching and research facility. It is also run by well-meaning liberals, albeit largely white, and male, some of whom were revolutionaries…

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Thabo Mbeki rides again. Let’s knock him off his horse, then!

ViroBlogy

Sixteen years ago, two colleagues and I wrote a letter to Nature expressing our concern about our then-President Thabo Mbeki’s denialist views on HIV and AIDS – views he then tried to push into national policy, and which almost certainly were highly influential in delaying the rollout of ARVs in South Africa.  I was also active for several years in the media and in public lectures in trying to negate some of the damage he was causing – and I was very relieved when he took a back seat eventually, and then effectively vanished from the public stage.

However, in an unwelcome development as of this week, it appears that Mr Mbeki has finally, in his ongoing quest to rewrite history, addressed the elephant in the room: his views on HIV/AIDS.

To say this “letter” is self-serving would be to pay it a compliment.  Indeed, he himself has this to…

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How Mbeki’s character and his AIDS denialism are intimately linked

I would like to see such a tribunal set, if not in SA at least some ICC of some sort. Mbeki on different from Bashir and the war lords who kill their people

ViroBlogy

Critics say that Thabo Mbeki’s character matters less than his AIDS denialism. But these things are actually intimately linked.

Sourced through Scoop.it from: theconversation.com

So Thabo Mbeki is attempting to rewrite history, or at least his place in it, and he may or may not get to writing about his beliefs on HIV/AIDS.
As someone who was actively involved in telling him how wrong he was, I cannot say I am looking forward to seeing him attempt to explain himself.
Because he was wrong in so many ways: wrong in his disbelief; wrong in his actively courting the loony dissidents; wrong in buying into the “ARVs are just poisons” belief; wrong in buying into the conspiracy theories around Big Pharma.
And wrong not to believe scientists in his own country, who did their very best to convince him, using the best evidence on hand, that HIV causes AIDS, and ARVs…

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Your next DNA vaccine might come from tobacco

ViroBlogy

We don’t have much practice at this sort of thing, but seeing as we just got something REALLY cool published, and the man who largely made it possible is now a science writer, we decided to ask him to write a press release.  So he did.  Thanks, Paul Kennedy – take a bow, twice!


“In a pioneering step towards using plants to produce vaccines against cervical cancer and other viruses, University of Cape Town (UCT) researchers have generated synthetic human papillomavirus- derived viral particles called pseudovirions in tobacco plants.

“We’ve succeeded in making a completely mammalian viral particle in a plant – proteins, DNA, everything. That’s enormously exciting,” says Dr Inga Hitzeroth of the Biopharming Research Unit (BRU) at UCT.Dr_Inga_Hitzeroth

In an Open Access study just published in Nature Scientific Reports, BRU researchers report using tobacco plants to create a synthetic viral particle known as a pseudovirion.

A pseudovirion looks…

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