ACDI draws together a network of researchers at UCT and beyond to engage with ACDI in various ways, from teaching and student project supervision, to research and knowledge influencing.
ACDI’s core team acts as a hub, which aims to provide the services that enable the network to be more than the sum of its parts. The team comprises the Director and Deputy Director, administrative support staff, a research management team, an education and training management team, and a communications and networking team. Additionally, the HQ includes a number of students, Postdoctoral researchers, and project managers who work on ACDI-led projects in collaboration with the ACDI network, as well as the ACDI Masters Convener, who coordinates all aspects of the flagship ACDI Masters in Climate Change and Sustainable Development.
Institutional membership involves both recognised research groupings, academic departments and other university entities whose area of work intersects strongly with ACDI, and who have a history of active membership of ACDI.
Individual members are known as Associates, and are people at UCT who actively engage with ACDI through research, teaching, student supervision or other activities. Associates may or may not be jointly-affiliated to an institutional member. Associates will have research and teaching interests that overlap substantially with the ACDI intellectual domains.
Student members are Honours, Masters and PhD students whose research or courses fit within the broad ACDI research domain. Often, they are supervised by ACDI members, but they may also choose to self-affiliate.
Mark New, Director
Expertise: Climate monitoring; extreme events; climate scenarios; impacts; adaptation; water; land use; policy
Mark New is the ACDI Director and AXA Research Chair in African Climate Risk. He is also a coordinating lead author on the IPCC 6th Assessment Report, responsible for Chapter 17 of Working Group II, Decision Making Options for Managing Risk, and an editor for Global Environmental Change and Environmental Research Letters. Mark serves on the Science Committees of the World Adaptation Science Programme and the South African Global Change Science Programme.
Mark's research has spanned climate change detection, attribution, impacts and adaptation. More recently he has focused on quantifying and adapting to the changing risks of damaging climate events in southern Africa, on climate adaptation knowledge systems, and on understanding barriers and enablers to effective climate adaptation responses. Read more
Tel: +27 (0)21 650 2920
Email: Please contact Mark New directly for research related matters: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please contact Personal Assistant, Mrs Adiela Floris for administrative matters: email@example.com
Sheona Shackleton, Deputy Director
Expertise: Rural development, livelihoods and natural resource use and management
Sheona Shackleton joined the ACDI as Deputy Director in January 2018. She also holds an Honorary Professorship with the Department of Environmental Science at Rhodes University. Sheona has worked at the interface between rural development, livelihoods and natural resource use and management for the past 35 years. Her research and postgraduate supervision has covered a diversity of areas within this broad theme such as community conservation, rural livelihoods and vulnerability, ecosystem services and human well-being, forest product use and commercialisation, natural resource governance and climate change adaptation. Her current research focusses on livelihood and landscape (social-ecological) change, with a particular interest in climate change as a driver and how it interacts with other shocks and stressors to influence adaptation, transformation and future livelihood trajectories. Sheona has been engaged in interdisciplinary, participatory and transdisciplinary research for most of her career after being part of the startup team for a University of the Witwatersrand interdisciplinary unit in the late 1980s (Wits Rural Facility). Her interest in engaged scholarship and knowledge co-production arises from both a practical research and ethical perspective (where she has experiences of social learning approaches to knowledge co-production), but also an academic one in terms of how best to integrate knowledge co-production processes into our teaching and learning and to support such an approach in our postgraduate research. Sheona and her project team were awarded the VC’s Distinguished Community Engagement Award for their social leaning work on climate change, HIV/AIDs and vulnerability in 2015. Sheona is on the board of the journals World Development and Land, is a member of ASSAF and has reviewed proposals for a wide range of organisations including NRF, VW Foundation, DFID, Belmont Foundation, SPACES and others. She has served on several national government and non-government committees in areas related to her expertise. She has experience coordinating large projects and a well-established network of international partners and collaborators. She has published her work extensively both in academic books and journals, but also the more popular media, and has reviewed papers for some 30 different journal titles.
Tel: +27 (0)21 650 4581 · Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Rebeca Biancardi Aleu, Researcher
Rebeca holds a master’s degree (MSc) in African Politics from SOAS, University of London and a bachelor’s degree (BA with honours) in Politics and International Relations from Royal Holloway, University of London. Her masters’ dissertation is a political analysis of the DR Congo’s Electoral Glissement and Presidential Term Limits.
Before joining ACDI, she worked as a Guest researcher at the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) in Sweden on the ongoing project Enhancing trust in government for effective water governance (EnTruGo) – jointly coordinated by SEI HQ, African Climate and Development Initiative (ACDI), Wageningen University (WUR) and The Arctic University of Norway (UiT). The objective of her study was to examine how participatory processes in water governance affect Indigenous and marginalised groups and how, in turn, these affect their relationship with the state.
In 2019 she worked as an intern and researcher at the African Climate and Development Initiative (ACDI) in South Africa. She was part of the IFAD multi-country climate risk analysis investigating the effects of national policies and plans on climate sensitive sectors in Angola, Botswana, Mozambique, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Rwanda, Uganda, eSwatini and Lesotho. During her studies, she worked as a human rights researcher at Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) in London, United Kingdom.
Michelle Blanckenberg, Communications
Michelle runs the ACDI's communications activities.
With a PhD in Conservation Biology, Michelle has the ability to understand and communicate the technical complexities of scientific research across a range of disciplines. Michelle’s passion for knowledge seeking and education encouraged her to seek a role in science communication where she could help make science accessible and relatable to a wide audience. Michelle works to communicate scientific findings through accessible content using a range of quality, audience appropriate outputs. It is Michelle’s goal to contribute to the improvement of the environmental status of South Africa as well as the greater African continent through research, education and engagement.
Tel: +27 82 801 5929
Leigh Cobban, Education and Capacity Development Portfolio Manager
Expertise: Climate change education, climate change graduate pathways, climate change vulnerability & adaptation, sustainable development, project coordination and development
Leigh is the Manager of the Education & Capacity Development Portfolio at ACDI at UCT. She holds an MSc in Environmental Science and is pursuing a PhD in Education.
Leigh's role entails overseeing the existing program of formal and professional courses, student programs, supporting new curriculum development, helping to conceptualise and develop new programs, and building ACDI’s understanding of best practice in climate change education in Africa.
During her four years at ACDI, she has worked on or developed over a dozen projects in these areas, including a scientific capacity development study to inform capacity development in the Future Climate for Africa (FCFA) project, and the development of an innovative Masters curriculum in Climate Change and Sustainable Development for Southern Africa. In the ARUA-CD, Leigh is leading the Curriculum Working Group in 2019.
Tel: +27 (0)21 650 3846 · Email: email@example.com
Jiska De Groot, Senior Researcher
Expertise: Energy, poverty and development
Jiska de Groot is an Energy and Development Geographer with a keen interest in providing access to energy in a sustainable and equitable manner. Jiska joined the University of Cape Town in 2015 after completing a PhD in Human Geography at Plymouth University. She is currently employed at the Energy Research Centre, where she leads the Energy, Poverty and Development research group. She further holds an AXA Future Research Leader Fellowship on Energy Transitions and a Joint Senior Research Fellowship in the ACDI Chair Programme on the inequalities of climate change mitigation, sustainable energy and poverty. Her work focuses on the social processes surrounding changes in energy use, access to clean and reliable energy technologies and energy transitions, as well as considerations of fairness and justice in energy systems. Jiska has experience with the design, management, implementation and dissemination of a range of Sub Saharan African research projects, including as team leader for South Africa on the UK’s ESRC/NRF’s Newton Fund Programme on Urban Transformation, and the British Academy project on Energy Innovation in Low Income Housing in Cape Town and Bangalore. She further leads the South African team at UCT for a research project within the UK DfID’s Energy and Gender research programme, which investigates gender and energy for productive uses, and delivers training and assistance to countries under UNFCCC’s Technology Needs Assessment. She currently is component lead for Skills and Expertise Development in Sub Saharan Africa under DfID’s Transforming Energy Access, and also functions as research uptake manager for this same region. Jiska regularly publishes in acclaimed academic journals, presents at (international) academic conferences and has contributed to several edited books in the field of energy and development.
Karen Fosseus, Administrative Manager
Expertise: Operational and administrative management
Karen is responsible for the management of the ACDI administrative processes and systems and supports the Director in strategic planning for the ACDI. She has oversight of all ACDI research projects with regards to financial management and reporting, organisational and human resource management, information and general office management.
Karen has a degree in Nursing from UCT and many years of experience in grant and office management in the health sector. She has worked as a veterinary nurse, research assistant, grant and office manager for a variety of non-profit organisations in Cape Town including the Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation and Red Cross Children's Hospital. She is interested in the dynamics of information and business process management.
Tel: +27 (0)21 650 2890 · Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Adiela Floris, Assistant Administrator
For the past 29 years, Adiela has been using her excellent organizational and communications skills to enhance daily operations at firms and businesses.
She is a passionate person, and thrives to work in an energetic and challenging environment. Her attention to detail and business acumen allows her to function professionally, with the ability to work under pressure while demonstrating effectiveness and reliability as an administrative support. She is a team player but is able to work independently when required. Adiela's extensive work experience not only reflects her desire to always learn and grow, but has provided her with a host of key competencies to support her in her role at the ACDI.
Tel: +27 (0)21 650 5598 · Email: email@example.com
Petra Holden, Researcher
Petra is an inter- and transdisciplinary conservation scientist. Her current research focuses on identifying equitable and sustainable approaches to nature-based solutions (e.g., landscape restoration or protection approaches) to support climate change adaptation and mitigation in high-lying regions important for water supply in Southern Africa (see TES NbS). Petra has theoretical and practical expertise in remote sensing, hydrological modelling, restoration ecology, and conservation science especially in the context of South African landscapes and ecosystems.
Petra’s postdoc at ACDI investigated the role of nature-based solutions in mountain catchments for reducing the impact of anthropogenic climate change on hydrological drought risk. For her PhD, Petra used inter- and transdisciplinary research methods to understand the influence of conservation over the past 50 years on land use, vegetation, fire and streamflow in the Groot Winterhoek mountains, a strategic water source area in the Western Cape.
Prior to her PhD, Petra worked on developing climate change adaptation projects in several African and Asian countries, under the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and Adaptation Fund and for the Department of Environment Affairs. Petra has a PhD and MSc in Conservation Biology, a BSc (Hons) in Zoology ((University of Cape Town), and a ND and B-Tech in Nature Conservation (Cape Peninsula University of Technology).
Rabia Karriem, Administrative Assistant
Rabia joined ACDI as our Administrative Assistant in 2014. She is a personal assistant to the Director, manages the front office, and liaises between ACDI projects and outside organisations. With her 18 years administration experience, she is also responsible for general and office administration as well as financial administration.
Tel: +27 (0)21 650 5598 · Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Kagiso Keatimilwe, Research Porfolio Manager
In his role at the ACDI, Kagiso Keatimilwe is responsible for maintaining relationships with partners, identifying funding opportunities and leading the development of large research proposals. He has previously worked in the Botswana public service, United Nations Development Programme, as well as the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) where he gained knowledge of environmental issues, experience in design and implementation of environmental projects, as well as building and maintaining collaborative research relationships. He has also been involved in civic activities in Botswana, particularly in education and culture. Kagiso holds an Honours degree in Town Planning as well as a Masters degree in Natural Resources Planning.
Elizabeth Kruger, Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Elizabeth Kruger is a postdoctoral fellow working with the ACDI on an international research collaboration called EnTruGo. In partnership with academics from Norway, Sweden and Holland and under the guidance of Nadine Methner, she is conducting research on public trust in water governance. Elizabeth’s academic background lies in the arena of environmental anthropology, with a specific interest in indigenous medicinal and environmental knowledge, water management and environmental social movements. She has a broader fascination with sustainable design, events and art production as these intersect with academic pursuits.
Kamoru Abiodun Lawal, Postdoctoral Researcher
Kamoru obtained his PhD in Atmospheric Science (with a specialisation in Numerical Weather Prediction (NWP), Seasonal Climate Prediction and Regional Climate Modeling) at the Department of Environmental and Geographical Sciences, at the University of Cape Town. His PhD thesis used discrepancy in a large ensemble of climate simulations as a tool to investigate variability in dominant seasonal rainfall and temperature patterns (i.e. classes) over West and Southern Africa, to examine the capability of climate models in reproducing the variability, and to study the limits of predictability of the seasonal climates over South Africa.
Kamoru also studied meteorology (B. Tech and M. Tech) at the Federal University of Technology, Akure, Nigeria, and has worked as an Aeronautical Meteorologist, Research Officer, and briefly as the Head of the Research and Training Directorate of the Nigerian Meteorological Agency. He has taught various meteorological courses at the Regional Meteorological Training Centre (RMTC), an affiliate of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), situated in Lagos.
Skillful and competent in computer programming languages and scripting in UNIX, Kamoru's passion is to impart knowledge to younger generations. He is presently investigating the interactions between teleconnection patterns and fire, as well as carrying out the performance evaluations of weather@home 2 models (HadAM3P and HadRm3P) over West African sub-region.
Tel: +27 (0)21 650 2909 · Email: email@example.com
Megan Lukas-Sithole, Researcher
Megan Lukas-Sithole joined the ACDI in July 2019 as the Chapter Scientist for Chapter 17 (Decision-Making Options for Managing Risk) of the IPCC’s 6th Assessment Report. For her PhD, she did an ethnographic study on the everyday sustainability practices of people living in Nyanga, Cape Town. Prior to her PhD, Megan worked at the City of Cape Town in the field of Environmental Management. Her qualifications include a BSc in Environmental and Geographical Science (UCT), PG Dip in Environmental Law (UCT), and MPhil in Environmental Management (Stellenbosch University).
Nomanesi Makhonco, Research Assistant
Along with being an ACDI research assistant, Nomanesi is a master’s degree candidate in environmental and water sciences. Her main research interests are vegetation interactions, mapping of alien vegetation, geomorphology and hydrology.
Nomanesi’s current research project at ACDI is focussed on invasive alien tree mapping in the Cape Peninsula from a variety satellite imagery using Google Earth Engine in combination with GIS.
Tel: +27 (0)21 650 2256 · Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Norman Mathebula, Postdoctoral Researcher
Norman Mathebula joined the ACDI as Post-doctoral research fellow in February 2018. He has a background in Environmental Management, Common-property resource systems, Resource Ecology, and Local resource governance in communal woodland areas, in the former homelands of South Africa. He completed his PhD at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), on the topic of testing the feasibility of community-based coppice management in the Mpumalanga and Limpopo Provinces.
Norman is currently working with Dr Jiska De Groot and Dr Britta Rennkamp on social science aspects of the deployment of off-grid renewable energy technologies and clean energy access in developing countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and South East Asia.
He also holds a Masters in Environmental Management from UCT (on the topic of the effectiveness of Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and a degree in Environmental Sciences from the University of Venda.
Nadine Methner, Research Officer
Nadine Methner is a Research Fellow at the ACDI. Nadine’s research interests focus on: strengthening the evidence base for ecosystem based adaptation in relation to climate risks and livelihoods resilience; analysis and advancement of the Water-Energy-Food-Biodiversity-Land Nexus in the context of sustainable livelihoods; identifying processes and patterns of interactions in complex governance systems; strengthening the adaptive capacity of local and regional organizations through joined knowledge integration, collective learning and collaboration; integrative systems thinking and cross-scale analyses; and democratisation of scientific knowledge and policy decision making processes.
Nadine is particularly interested in engaging in and advancing of transdisciplinary research aimed at societal transformation in the context of climate change and persistent levels of inequality.
Tel: +27(0)21 650 2915 · Email: email@example.com
Nondumiso Mginywa, SAF-ADAPT Project Coordinator
Nondumiso studied Journalism and Media Studies and Anthropology at Rhodes University, a Postgraduate Diploma in Tertiary Education, from UNISA. In 2016 she did a Foundation course in Design Thinking offered by the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design Thinking at UCT. For four semesters she has coached four groups of postgraduate students at UCT in Design Thinking. She is currently finishing her Masters in Adult Education. Her broad interests are Design Thinking as a tool for social change and Professionalization of Adult Educators in South Africa.
Tel: +27 (0)21 650 2556 · Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Kelvin Mulungu, Postdoctoral Researcher
Kelvin Mulungu joined the ACDI in December 2020. He holds a PhD in Agricultural and Resource Economics from Colorado State University in the US. He was a sustainability leadership fellow at the School of Global Environmental Sustainability during the 2019-2020 academic year and a PhD student research fellow at the Africa Rice Center in 2019. He obtained a Collaborative MSc in Agricultural and Applied Economics from Egerton University in Kenya and University of Pretoria in South Africa. Before starting his PhD, he worked for a CGIAR project in Zambia as Research Manager for an agriculture for nutrition and health project. He also worked as a Research Fellow at the University of Zambia Institute of Economic and Social Research. His research interests include nutrition, gender in agriculture, climate change, and natural resource economics. For his PhD dissertation, he studied the effectiveness of forests as natural insurance for nutrition, how weather shocks affect risk attitudes of smallholder farmers and hence their investment decisions, and provided an alternative explanation for the ‘hungry farmer paradox’.
Assumpta Onyeagoziri, Postdoctoral Researcher
Assumpta is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the TES NbS (Towards Equitable and Sustainable Nature-based Solutions in Southern Africa’s Water Towers) project. She is working on processed-based biogeochemical, land surface and/or hydrological modelling. Specifically modelling nature-based solutions for trade-offs and long-term resilience.
She has a background in Mathematics and the mathematical modelling of ecological systems. She completed her PhD at Stellenbosch University, where she researched the complexity and stability of mutualistic local and meta-networks. Also, she completed her MSc at Stellenbosch University and focused on the structural emergence in pollination networks of Galápagos Islands. Before then, she attended the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences, South Africa, where she obtained a Masters degree in Mathematical Sciences. She obtained her B.Sc (Hons) in Mathematics from the University of Ilorin.
In December 2020, she was awarded `Outstanding Community Women Leader / Role Model' by Nigerian Citizens Association South Africa (NICASA) Western Cape Chapter. Also in 2019, she received the Nigeria Community Excellence Award `Outstanding Nigerian Female Achievement in South Africa' by the Nigerian Voice Newspaper South Africa.
Marieke Norton, ACDI Masters Course Convener and Lecturer
Marieke Norton joined the ACDI as Masters Convener in January 2017. She has a background in Social Anthropology, with a focus on environmental anthropology. She completed her PhD at UCT in 2014, on the topic of marine resource law enforcement in the Western Cape, as a transdisciplinary project between Social Anthropology and the Ma-Re Institute.
Her personal and research interests are on the interactions between humanity and the environment, and the relations between these spheres that sustain, shape and change each other. Her research and publications have been specifically geared towards re-thinking the relations between the natural and social sciences, in order to establish modes of collaboration that reframe the issues of climate change and sustainable development as interdisciplinary projects that support and innovate human and non-human well-being. Marieke also holds a Masters in Social Anthropology (on the topic of marine resource governance) and a degree in Media and Film Studies.
Tel: +27 (0)21 650 2838 · Email: marieke.norton @uct.ac.za
Romaric C. Odoulami, Junior Researcher
Romaric, through his research, aims to enhance human development outcomes in the context of climate change. His research interest is around assessing changes in regional climate risks arising from human influence on the climate in Africa. He focuses on quantifying changes in the risk of weather and climate extremes in Africa using the attribution science concept and climate modelling. His current research involves assessing the influence of human-induced warming on climate/weather parameters used in insurance risk modelling and the cost of insurance. His focus is primarily on agricultural insurance in Africa. Other research interests of his include improving knowledge on the possible impact of solar geoengineering on the future climate in Africa.
He completed a PhD in Meteorology and Climate Science in 2016 and has a strong background in Agricultural Sciences. For his PhD research, he used climate models to examine the potential impacts of large-scale forestation on climate extremes over West Africa.
Lorena Pasquini, Researcher
Expertise: Environmental change and management, climate adaptation, environmental governance, climate change engagement, behaviour change and communication
Lorena works across the ACDI, the Climate Systems Analysis Group, the African Centre for Cities and the Global Risk Governance Programme (Faculty of Law). She is a Researcher on the Urban Africa Risk Knowledge (Urban ARK) Programme, and a Co-Investigator on the Fulcrum Institutions for Sustainability Programme. She is also a World Social Science Fellow in Sustainable Urbanization (International Social Science Council). Her current research focuses on the governance of environmental change issues at local government level, and on engagement, behaviour change and communication of climate change. She has a doctorate from the University of Sheffield (UK), and has a strong background of both research and practice in interdisciplinary issues located at the society/environment nexus. She has worked as a researcher, consultant and practitioner on a variety of conservation, environmental change and management, climate adaptation, environmental governance and development issues. In the past Lorena worked for one of South Africa’s leading Expanded Public Works Programmes, where she developed first-hand experience of the realities of adapting the country to the impacts of climate change.
Britta Rennkamp, Senior Researcher
Expertise: Climate policy, energy policy, sustainable development, energy transitions, political economy, science and technology studies, innovation policy
Britta's research focuses on climate policy and technology in developing countries and the links between poverty, inequality, energy and mitigation of climate change. In her previous work she analysed renewable energy and nuclear programmes, carbon taxation, green industrial and innovation policies. Britta has published various papers and book chapters on the overall question on integrating policies on emissions reductions, energy supply and development in Africa and Latin America.
Britta Rennkamp holds a PhD in Political Science, and a Diplom/MSc in Regional Sciences – Political Sciences, Economics, Latin American History, Spanish and Portuguese language and literature. She has ten years of international work experience in sustainable development research, consulting and teaching, which she acquired in Brazil, Germany and South Africa. Read more.
Darlington Sibanda, Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Darlington holds a PHD in Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies from PLAAS, University of the Western Cape. He also holds a Masters, Honours in Development studies (University of the Western Cape) and BA (University of the Zimbabwe). He is both a researcher and an educator. His PHD research focused on Urban Land Tenure and Tenancy in South Africa. Other research interests are: Governance; Social policy; poverty and inequality; urbanisation, Water and sanitation services; social protests. He is a DAAD Alumni scholar and African Centres of Excellence member. He was a member of the task team which contributed to the Institute of Ecological Civilisation’s Cities Facing Escalating Water Shortages Position Paper in W12 Framework: Supporting Collaboration Among Cities for Water Security. Previously worked on Water Research Commission of South Africa-funded projects titled; Land Tenure and Water Services Delivery in South Africa and Social Protests and Services Delivery. He has also worked with youth on a couple of environmental projects such as South Africa Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA) and City of Cape Town’s SMART LIVING. He also supports youth in Khayelitsha with entrepreneurial and discussion forums (Makhaza Lifestyle’s First Friday Conversations and Maximum Output’s Basic Computer Training Course).
Nicholas Simpson, Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Nick’s current research concentrates on the complexity of climate risk, climate change literacy and perception, adaptation feasibility assessment, resilience, energy access, and climate security. He is a Lead Author of the Africa chapter of the IPCC 6th Assessment, and the Lead Author of the ICOMOS-IPCC-UNESCO White Paper on climate risk to heritage globally, and an African Academy of Science Affiliate Member (2021-2025). The Simpson et al. framework for complex climate change risk has extended and revised the IPCC risk framework to better conceptualise risk from response to climate and has led to high profile invitations to speak at events such as the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice Research Dialogue of the Thirteenth Meeting of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (2021). Nick’s resilience orientated research has extended security studies to the governance the novel harmscapes of climate change. This work has enhanced our understanding of the concept of resilience and how it informs responses to unanticipated and severe Anthropocene events; such as the Cape Town drought. His PhD concentrated on participatory sustainable decision-making and established theoretical and practice ready consilience between the capabilities approach and environmental assessment with an emphasis on better understanding of impacts on human wellbeing. His research in Africa also focuses on the very bottom end of the economic spectrum, aiming to support the creation and improvement of livelihoods and small businesses of those most at risk from climate change. This work has identified and published 'design principles' that inform the conceptualisation and evaluation of projects to aid in the replication of emerging sustainability-orientated work for humanitarian NGOs.
Debbie Sparks, Senior Researcher
Designation: Senior Researcher
Expertise: Youth, energy and climate change; sustainable development; capacity building; training; teaching
Dr Debbie Sparks is a climate change researcher with 20 years of experience working in the broad climate change arena. Prior to joining the ACDI, she worked at the Energy Research Centre at UCT. Her particular focus has been on energy access and development in Africa, within the broad context of sustainable development and with a focus on future generations. Her expertise and strengths include research in the fields of energy and climate change, capacity building, curriculum design, teaching and training. Debbie has co-convened the ACDI Masters’ module on Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation since its inception. She is involved in delivering training and assistance to developing countries under the UNFCCC’s Technology Needs Assessment project. Debbie holds a MSc and PhD in Environmental and Geographical Science from the University of Cape Town.
Anna Taylor, Junior Research Fellow
Expertise: climate adaptation, urban governance, African cities, vulnerability assessment, risk communication, groundwater governance and adaptive management, transdisciplinarity, embedded
research, case study research, organizational ethnography
Anna is a geographer / environmental scientist specializing in urban climate adaptation, with a particular interest in transformative ways of governing water-related risks and vulnerabilities associated with climate change and urbanization. She engages in transdisciplinary research on climate resilient, sustainable urbanism, public decision making and multi-level governance. The research directions she is actively pursuing are: (1) understanding the institutional and organizational requirements for climate resilient urban (ground)water governance; and (2) developing a transdisciplinary methodology for climate-sensitive decision analysis. Anna has 15 years of experience working on research and consulting projects of various shapes and sizes, all related in some way to climate risks and adaptation. Anna’s PhD and post-doctoral work focused on climate adaptation in urban contexts, notably in Cape Town, Windhoek, Durban, Harare and Lusaka through the Mistra Urban Futures, CLIMWAYS, FRACTAL, LIRA 2030 and GreenGov projects. She completed her PhD entitled ‘Urban climate adaptation as a process of organisational decision making’ in 2017, investigating three cases of urban climate adaptation in the City of Cape Town.
Prior to joining ACDI, Anna worked with the Climate System Analysis Group (CSAG) and the African Centre for Cities (ACC) at UCT. She continues to work on collaborative projects with CSAG and ACC colleagues. Before joining UCT, Anna worked for the Stockholm Environment Institute, at their office in Oxford, UK.
Jessica Thorn, Senior Researcher and CR4D Fellow
Designation: ACDI African Women in Climate Change Science and CR4D Fellow, Research Associate in the Department of Geography and Environment, University of York
Expertise: Social-ecological systems; biodiversity and ecosystem services; green urban infrastructure; development corridors; global environmental change; participatory modelling; climate variability and risk; adaptation; wellbeing; climate-smart agriculture.
Jessica is a Namibian ecologist with a background in human geography, holding a CR4D and African Women in Climate Change fellowship at ACDI. She is also a research associate at the University of York, University of Nairobi, and African Conservation Centre. She uses probabilistic social-ecological modelling and scenario analysis to measure impacts of development on land use change. Currently, Jessica is working on an ESRC-funded collaborative capacity building project, using participatory scenario planning to measure potential impacts of Chinese foreign direct investment in transportation corridors in East Africa. She is also leading an IDRC-funded project predicting the synergies and trade-offs of ecological infrastructure in peri-urban areas. Most recently, she assessed the potential impact of climatic and demographic change on local actor decisions and land use in mountain social-ecological systems, and biodiversity and ecosystem services in smallholder agricultural landscapes. Jessica completed her BSocSci(Hons) at UCT, MSc and DPhil at Oxford, and postdoctoral studies at Colorado State University and ETH Zurich.
Jessica has been involved in various NSF, NERC, NRF, DFID, CGAIR, IDRC, ESRC, and USAID funded projects, conducting field research in Nepal, India, Vietnam, Tanzania, Namibia, Kenya, Ghana, South Africa, Switzerland and Peru. Her professional activities have been affiliated with the UN (e.g., Environment Programme and International Strategy for Disaster Risk Reduction), governments (e.g., South Africa, Ghana), NGOs (e.g., Conservation International, WWF), working closely with local stakeholders across sectors and scales to generate new information. Jessica has similarly conducted research for the Climate Change Agriculture and Food Security, Centre for International Forestry Research, Kew Royal Botanical Gardens, Cambridge, Oxford, London School of Economics, and Brown University. Jessica sits on advisory boards for five CBOs, is an elected member of the Global Environmental Facility, has advocated for ecosystem-based disaster risk reduction at the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction and UNFCCC COP, and is a contributing author to The Economic of Ecosystems and Biodiversity reports. She has taught on international courses in Global Biodiversity Trade and Indigenous Communities, Field Ecology, Wildland Ecosystems, Urban Geography, Global Challenges for the 21st Century, and Cities of the South and is currently supervising one PhD student and three MSc students.
Tel: (Kenya) +254 746 723 537 · (UK) +44 7578 883 391 and +44 1904 324 212
Christopher Trisos, Senior Researcher
Christopher's research focus is on the intersection of climate change, biodiversity and human well-being. He directs the Climate Risk Lab. The lab builds tools to predict when and where climate change risks appear, and how society can respond to climate risks in a way that is rapid, just and equitable.
He is a Co-ordinating Lead Author for climate change impacts, adaptation and vulnerability for the Africa region of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), 6th Assessment Report and a member of the Core Writing Team of the IPCC Synthesis Report. He has also consulted on climate change risk and adaptation for the World Bank.
Before moving to ACDI, Christopher spent three years as a postdoctoral fellow at the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center at University of Maryland, where his research focused on biodiversity, climate change and geoengineering. He completed his doctorate at Oxford. He teaches a graduate course on interdisciplinary and actionable science.
Tel: +27 (0)21 650 2918 · Email: email@example.com
Vernon Visser, Senior Researcher
Designation: Research Officer, Centre for Statistics in Ecology, Environment and Conservation (SEEC), and ACDI Senior Researcher
Expertise: Species distribution modelling (particularly grasses); occupancy modelling population ecology; Bayesian methods decision analysis; spatial statistics and remote sensing.
Vernon is currently a research officer within SEEC. Prior to joining SEEC, Vernon held post-docs at the Centre for Invasion Biology at Stellenbosch University and at the University of Sheffield in the UK. Vernon also completed his PhD in grassland ecology at the University of Sheffield. He has run courses on species distribution modelling in R on behalf of SANBI, the Centre for Invasion Biology, and the South African Association for Marine Biological Research. He is also chair of the Alien Grass Working Group, an initiative of SANBI’s Directorate for Biological Invasions.
Vernon has strong expertise in species distribution modelling, occupancy modelling, population ecology, Bayesian methods, decision analysis, spatial statistics and remote sensing. His work at the ACDI focuses on the effects of rainfall timing changes (seasonality, intensity and variability) on ecosystems and human livelihoods, centering on grasses, changes in broad-scale vegetation patterns, fire frequencies and agricultural potential. Underpinning this are observed changes in rainfall. Outputs of this research will help people make informed decisions and help them adapt to a changing climate.
Babatunde Abiodun, Climate System Analysis Group (CSAG)
Designation: Associate Professor, Department of Environmental & Geographical Science, UCT
Expertise: African climate variability and change; landcover - climate linkages
Babatunde Abiodun is from Nigeria. He is a member of CSAG and lecturer for the EGS department. He teaches climatology, climate modeling, atmospheric sciences, and a postgraduate research methods course. Babatunde's research interest is in development, evaluation, and application of dynamic atmospheric models. He works with various types of atmospheric models (i.e. boundary layer models, meso-scale models, regional climate models, global climate models, and air pollution models), but focuses on a model that has capability for horizontal grid adaptation (called CAM-EULAG). He evaluates atmospheric models, using them to study atmospheric systems (or conditions) that induce extreme events (like droughts, extreme rainfall, heat waves, and air-pollution episodes) in Africa. He also uses these models for predicting seasonal climates, projecting future climates under different emission scenarios, and understanding potential impacts of land-cover changes on regional climates. Read more.
Leslie Ann Ashburner, Transforming Energy Access – Learning Partnership (TEA-LP)
Designation: Project Lead at Transforming Energy Access – Learning Partnership (TEA-LP)
Expertise: Capacity development in Higher Education, low carbon development in Africa.
Leslie is currently leading on a UK Aid funded, 5-year programme to build post-graduate capacity for the clean energy access sector in Africa. The Transforming Energy Access – Learning Partnership supports African universities to design and implement multi-disciplinary curricula, responsive to the needs of the energy access sector, linking entrepreneurial, management and community engagement skills with hard skills related to clean energy.
Leslie has a Master’s degree in Climate Change and Sustainable Development from the University of Cape Town (UCT). Since 2015, she has worked as a project manager at UCT, with a focus on developing African higher education capacity for climate change responses. Previous projects include coordinating the development of a southern African Master’s curriculum in climate change and sustainable development, and the delivery of the Adaptation Futures 2018 conference in Cape Town.
Katye Altieri, Department of Oceanography
Designation: Lecturer, Department of ceanography
Expertise: Air pollution, climate change, energy and development
Katye is a Lecturer in the Oceanography Department at the University of Cape Town. She was formerly a Senior Researcher at the Energy Research Centre at UCT, MPP at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University, Visiting Research Fellow at Brown University, Associate Research Scholar at Princeton University, NOAA Climate and Global Change Postdoctoral Fellow, and PhD student at the Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences at Rutgers University
Katye's research interests in the broad area of climate change and sustainable development focus on low-carbon developmental pathways, and the relationship between climate change, air pollution, energy production and human health. Recent work includes understanding the potential air pollutant emissions from the development of unconventional natural gas resources in the Karoo, the air quality co-benefits of South African climate change policies, and the health benefits of improved access to clean energy. In addition, work on the international Deep Decarbonization Pathways Project focused on achieving development and mitigation objectives through decarbonization development pathways in South Africa. She is also interested in developing air pollution reduction and climate change mitigation strategies to incentivize economic development along low-carbon energy pathways in South Africa. Read more.
Tel: +27 (0)21 650 1222
Res Altwegg, Centre for Statistics in Ecology, Environment and Conservation (SEEC)
Designation: Associate Professor, Department of Statistical Sciences
Expertise: Statistical ecology; wildlife demography
Res Altwegg is an associate professor at UCT's Department of Statistical Sciences.
"Decision making in conservation often depends on observational data sets where key processes cannot be observed directly. We are estimating wildlife demography from capture-mark-recapture data using models that explicitly account for the observation process," Res explains about his work at SEEC. Current projects focus on the declining African penguin and the rare but increasing peregrine falcon, among many other species.
Res has been studying the connection between life-history evolution and population/community ecology. Conceptually, he strives to combine field observations with controlled experiments and theoretical concepts, and aims to directly connect theory and data through statistical methods, and often uses the Akaike Information Criterion (AIC) to evaluate how well his data support different models corresponding to different biological hypotheses.
One of the main projects Res has worked on, aims to understand the range dynamics of Southern African birds. Many of these birds are presently expanding their range, while others are losing ground. He has been examining the demography of these species to learn what may drive their local population dynamics, and developing methods to quantify range changes more reliably. This work is in collaboration with Dr Birgit Erni at the Department of Statistical Science (UCT) and his colleagues in the Global Change Research Group at SANBI, Dr Guy Midgley and Dr Phoebe Barnard.
For his PhD, Res investigated predator-induced plasticity in the life history of water frogs (Rana lessonae / esculenta). Using artificial ponds and terrestrial outdoor enclosures, he was able to manipulate the growth environment and examine the reaction of these animals during two different stages in their complex life cycle. For his Diploma (MSc), he investigated dispersal between local populations within a metapopulation of House Sparrows (Passer domesticus), and examined how the decision to disperse depended on an individual's age, sex, and morphological characteristics. Read more.
Tel: +27 21 650 5750 · Email: Res.Altwegg@uct.ac.za
Anton Cartwright, African Centre for Cities (ACC)
Designation: Founder of PACE (NPO), Researcher at Credible Carbon and African Centre for Cities
Expertise: Economics of climate change, low carbon urban development in Africa, climate change risk.
Anton is an economist with Masters degrees in Development Economics and Environmental Change and Management respectively. Anton is currently completing his PhD at the University of Cape Town exploring the interface between economic theory and the green economy. Anton's work focuses on the application of economics to Africa’s urban transition, green finance, environmental degradation and poverty alleviation and the implication of these issues for the discipline of economics itself.
As an economist Anton has consulted on Africa's emerging green economy, sustainable urbanisation, climate change adaptation, carbon mitigation policies, bioenergy, sustainable trade and integrated water resource management. In 2010 he joined ACC to head their Climate Change City Lab, a role that saw him become the Mistra Urban Futures Researcher on the green economy in Cape Town. Anton continues to be a senior associate of the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership, and is a founding member of PACE, a not-for profit organisation developing poverty-alleviating carbon trading projects in southern Africa. Read more.
Oliver Crespo, Climate System Analysis Group (CSAG)
Designation: Research Officer, Climate System Analysis Group
Expertise: Agronomy, algorithms and crop modelling for climate change optimization; environmental science
Olivier is working towards a better understanding of short and long-term climate change issues in connection with agricultural, and especially smallholder community farming systems, in Africa. His research interests include resources allocation and management, climate change, and optimal adaptation under uncertainty.
The ACDI is affiliated with CSAG through multiple research projects. Within these projects, Olivier participates in improving global agricultural modeling, aiding better understanding of climate impacts on the agricultural sector, and enhancing adaptation capacity in developing and developed countries.Through one such project; the WRC project, Olivier recently took steps to develop crop forecasts for two locations in South Africa, aimed at "better" learning from seasonal forecasts and improved agricultural decision making on monthly to yearly time scales. Read more.
James Cullis, Honorary Research Associate
James Cullis is a water resources engineer with over 20 years of experience particularly in Africa, but also in the UK, US, Australia and even Antarctica. He is particularly interested in addressing global water challenges in support of sustainable economic development and adaptation to climate change. His broad range of expertise includes hydrology and hydrological analysis, environmental flow requirements, hydro-economics, engineering design, infrastructure planning and feasibility studies, climate change risks and adaptation. He also maintains strong links to research and academia both in Africa and globally.
Guy Cunliffe, Transforming Energy Access – Learning Partnership (TEA-LP)
Designation: Research Officer/Project Coordinator
Expertise: Sustainable Energy and Development, Energy Access, Energy Efficiency, Climate Policy
Guy is currently working at the ACDI on the Transforming Energy Access Learning Partnership programme. He is the Project Coordinator, and his role comprises preparing and assisting TEA-LP partner universities with their curriculum design and accreditation deliverables, as well as workshop coordination and communications with partners and stakeholders.
Guy’s broader research interests include climate change mitigation, adaptation and equity, and South African energy policy and development. In 2018, in collaboration with prominent climate equity experts from four different countries, Guy completed a study on the role of domestic equity in the preparation of NDCs for Canada, the EU, Kenya and South Africa. Previously Guy worked at the Energy Research Centre as a member of the Energy Efficiency team, focusing on Measurement and Verification of EEDSM projects. Guy was also a student at UCT, having completed his MSc in Sustainable Energy Engineering in 2017, following a BSc in Mech Eng (also at UCT) in 2013.
Johan Enqvist, Honorary Research Affiliate
Expertise: Civic engagement, environmental stewardship, human–nature relationships, inter- and transdisciplinary research, natural resource management, network analysis, sense of place, urban social-ecological systems, water governance
Johan Enqvist has worked with ACDI since February 2018. He is currently an Honorary Research Affiliate, leading the project Drought as a Leverage Point For Urban Climate Adaptation, funded by the Swedish Research Council (VR) through Stockholm Resilience Centre. The project aims to explore in what ways Cape Town’s recent water crisis impacted residents’ water saving attitudes and behaviours, and what happens to this impact after the crisis is over. Johan’s first two years at ACDI was as a postdoctoral fellow in the AXA-funded project Urban Governance for Resilience in the Global South. This project explored the governance of urban resilience and water security in Cape Town, and characterized what priorities the City and various other actors and stakeholders have regarding resilience-building and social justice.
Johan is interested in how people living in cities relate to nature and the ecosystems that support them, especially understanding what enables and encourages more sustainable behaviour. He completed his PhD in Sustainability Science in 2017 at the Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University, Sweden. His doctoral project focused on the notion of stewardship, as expressed through civic engagement for protecting urban ecosystems. Johan holds an MSc in Ecosystems, Governance, and Resilience from Stockholm University and a BSc in Environment and Development from Södertörn University. Throughout his training, he has focused on people's efforts collaborate to manage and protect green (and blue) areas close to where they live. He has conducted fieldwork in Cape Town (2019), New York, USA (2016), in Bengaluru, India (2011-2012 and in 2013), in Zanzibar, Tanzania (2011), and in Babati, Tanzania (2010).
Lindsay Gilson, Plant Conservation Unit (PCU)
Designation: Associate Professor and Deputy Director: Plant Conservation Unit
Expertise: Applied palaeoecology, conservation and ecosystem management; theoretical ecology: resilience, thresholds, heterogeneity, variability, complexity and non-equilibrium; linking ecological and social systems
Lindsey Gillson is Associate Professor and Deputy Director at the Plant Conservation Unit, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Cape Town. Her interests include landscape ecology, conservation biology and applied palaeoecology. Her research focusses on long-term ecosystem dynamics, and the implications for conservation, sustainability and ecosystem services. She has a focus on African ecosystems, especially savannas, and is interested in multidisciplinary studies of these complex socio-ecological systems. She is author of “Biodiversity Conservation and Environmental Change: Using palaeoecology to manage dynamic landscapes in the Anthropocene.
Understanding landscape change over time is essential in predicting and managing ecosystem services sustainably in the future. Climate change interacts with multiple other drivers, including land-use, fire and herbivory, and palaeoecological studies can help in unravelling these complexities. It is especially important to understand how, when and why ecosystems reach tipping points, when sudden changes can have dramatic impacts on biodiversity and socio-ecological systems.
As part of the ACDI-funded project “Benchmarks for the Future” students James MacPherson, Cherie Forbes, and Abraham Dabengwa undertook palaeoecological studies near biome boundaries, enabling their resilience (or otherwise) to be studied over long-time periods. This project complements ongoing work by Professor Timm Hoffman and his team, who use repeat photography to investigate landscape changes in southern Africa over the past century. Further projects involve the “main-streaming” of palaeoecological data into long-term studies of sustainability and ecosystem management. As well as this research, Lindsey Gillson contributes to ACDI masters teaching through through introductory core lectures on biodiversity and climate change. She also runs an optional, two week module on biodiversity and climate change, and is a member of the ACDI Steering Committee. Read more.
Ralph Hamann, Graduate School of Business (GSB)
Designation: Research Director: UCT Graduate School of Business
Expertise: Sustainable enterprise; corporate citizenship and social responsibility; organizational strategy; cross-sector collaboration
Ralph leads a team of researchers looking at why and how organisations contribute to transformations to sustainability. His students and post-docs have been investigating the embedding of sustainability culture in large corporations, organisational sensemaking of their social-ecological context, and cross-sector collaboration. Ralph's other research interests have included organisational and governance responses to complex social and environmental problems, and his research group focuses on themes including business and climate change, company-community relations, food security, and cross-sector collaboration. Ralph is also a founding Director of FutureMeasure, a company that provides a web-based sustainability performance management system (developed initially for Woolworths); a co-founder of the Southern Africa Food Lab, a multi-stakeholder initiative in support of food security; and a Director of the Cape Town Partnership, known for its contributions to urban development strategies and initiatives. Read more.
Tel: +27 (0)21 406 1503 · Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Bruce Hewitson, Climate System Analysis Group (CSAG)
Designation: Director: Climate Systems Analysis Group
Expertise: Regional climate change; climate modeling; downscaling; analysis methodologies; capacity building; impacts and adaptation; climate services; climate ethics.
Bruce's research interests include climate modeling, climate change, and interesting analysis methodologies. He's also interested in developing appropriate technology for Africa and scientific capacity building.
Chris Jack, Climate System Analysis Group (CSAG)
Designation: Principal Scientific Officer, Climate System Analysis Group
Expertise: Climate modeling; climate knowledge systems; urban climate change adaptation
Chris is Principal Scientific Officer in the EGS department at UCT, primarily employed within the Climate System Analysis Group (CSAG). Over the past 15 years Chris has become increasingly involved in climate research, completing his doctorate in regional atmospheric moisture dynamics in 2011. Over the same period, Chris has worked on a large portfolio of climate services/consultancy activities including capacity development and stakeholder engagement where he has frequently played the role of climate science lead author and expert. He supervises and mentors students.
Chris has extensive experience and involvement in research and currently plays significant leadership roles in large climate research projects such as FRACTAL His experience in consulting and capacity building has helepd him to understand the challenges of informing decision making in different real-world contexts, including dealing directly with data challenges, capacity constraints and struggles with uncertainty.
Chris also works on urban climate change adaptation, supporting the development of integrated knowledge systems around both urban contexts and climate change in developing nation contexts. This research will inform and guide policy and development in relation to cities and climate change. Read more.
Tel: +27 21 650 4636 · Email: email@example.com
Astrid Jarre, Marine Research Institute (MaRe)
Designation: Associate Professor, Marine Research Institute (MaRe)
Expertise: Marine ecology and fisheries
With a professional background in marine systems ecology, Astrid has been specializing in an ecosystem approach to fisheries management (EAF) since the late 1980s. Her research emphasis has been on exploited marine systems experiencing pronounced environmental signals, and in developing societies. Astrid's research interests include the development of ecosystem indicators for fisheries management, multivariate data analysis and systems modelling, as well as mediated modelling. She has senior experience in developing scientific advice for management of human activities in the ocean.
Holding the South African Research Chair in Marine Ecology and Fisheries, Her current research focuses on developing methodology for multiple-criteria decision support for human activities in marine social-ecological systems under global change, notably in the Benguela Current Large Marine Ecosystem.
Brian King, Honorary Research Associate
Designation: Director of Resident Graduate Programs, Associate Professor, Penn State Department of Geography, Affiliate Professor of International Affairs
Brian King's research examines the production of livelihoods and environmental change in the developing world. This work evaluates the relationships between health and environment, focusing in particular on the effects of HIV/AIDS upon social and environmental systems. He is the PI on a NSF CAREER grant Political Ecologies of Health: Coupling Livelihood and Environment Responses to HIV/AIDS ($485,292, September 1, 2011 – August 31, 2017, GSS 1056683). This CAREER program is conducting intensive research in South Africa working in close collaboration with research institutes and governmental agencies to examine how livelihood systems adjust in response to HIV/AIDS, how livelihood responses to HIV/AIDS rework access patterns and the rules governing resource use, and whether intra-household and intra-community variations shape livelihood responses to HIV/AIDS. This work asserts that attending to health-environment interactions is needed to understand how disease results in transformations to social and environmental systems, and how these systems in turn shape the trajectories of disease and the possibilities for sustainable disease management.
Peter Johnston, Climate System Analysis Group (CSAG)
Designation: Climate Scientist & Researcher
Expertise: Agriculture, climate change vulnerability and adaptation
Peter Johnston is a climate scientist at the University of Cape Town. His research focuses on the applications and impacts of climate variability and change on various user sectors. He specialises in agriculture and water related activities with special emphasis on vulnerability and adaptation options.
Peter has worked closely with the Western Cape Government in developing a climate change vulnerability study and this was followed by a strategy and action plan. He has also been involved in the African Centre for Cities looking at adaptation frameworks for both Cape Town and Johannesburg. His research includes the application of models to determine the sustainable long term water use in the larger Berg river catchment area of the SW Cape in South Africa, and an investigation into adaptation options for agricultural under climate change scenarios for commercial and small scale farmers.
His work with ACDI is focused on the climate risks and decision-making time frames associated with agriculture, including the SmartAgri project and the SASCAL project focusing on value-chains in Mozambique. He has supervised and worked with ACDI students and researchers over the years. Peter has given many public presentations to governmental, educational, agricultural, water related and general interest groups. He is also the co-author of several school science and geography text books., and was lead author for the South African chapter of Southern African Agriculture and Climate Change (2013).
Chris Lennard, Climate System Analysis Group (CSAG)
Designation: Research Officer, Climate Systems Analysis Group
Expertise: Climate modelling and forecasting
Although now a climatologist, Chris is a lapsed zoologist who has also dabbled in the dark art of oceanography. As such he holds an undergraduate degree in Zoology and post graduate degrees in Ocean and Atmospheric Science (B.Sc. Hons), Zoology (M.Sc.) and Climatology (Ph.D.). He has also lectured into a number of climate related courses at UCT. Read more.
Chris Reason, Department of Oceanography
Designation: Professor and Head of the Oceanography Department, UCT
Expertise: Climate variability; meteorology; oceanography; severe weather; ocean-atmosphere interactions; ocean and atmospheric modelling
Chris is involved with research relating to Southern Hemisphere climate variability, southern African rainfall variability, mesoscale and coastal meteorology, tropical meteorology and oceanography, severe weather, ocean-atmosphere interactions, Indian and South Atlantic Oceans, Southern Ocean, ocean and atmospheric modelling. Read more.
Tel: 021 650 5311 · Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Andrea Rother, Centre for Environmental and Occupational Health Research (CEOHR)
Designation: Head: Health Risk Management Programme, UCT Medical School
Expertise: Impact of chemicals on climate change and health, chemical/pesticide risk management/governance, risk communication, risk perceptions, capacity building for regulators; impact of climate change on worker health, agriculture, vector borne diseases.
Andrea Rother is the Head of the Environmental Health Division and Associate Professor in the School of Public Health and Family Medicine at UCT. She is also deputy director of the Centre for Environmental and Occupational Health Research (CEOHR) in the School.
As an environmental sociologist and environmental/public health professional her expertise is in the areas of chemical/pesticide risk management, risk communication, health literacy, exposure assessment, intervention development and policy analysis. Andrea is extensively involved in national and international policy development around reducing chemical and pesticide health and environmental health risks, an area she has been working in for over 25 years. She is currently leading the development of an FAO guidance document on Highly Hazardous Pesticides.
Andrea also has wide-ranging experience in facilitation and capacity building, particularly in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region. She also convenes a postgraduate diploma in pesticide risk management which has a large e-learning component for building the capacity of professionals in Low and Middle Income Countries. Andrea also facilitates an e-networking forum and bi-monthly virtual seminar with regulators, students, and international experts particular in new and complex areas (e.g., regulating pesticides taking climate change into account, regulating nanoparticles, regulating endocrine disrupting chemicals).
Her current climate change projects and PhD student research are on the impact of climate change on heat stress for herbicide sprayers removing alien invasive vegetation, and assessing the factors influencing negative impacts from climate change and exposures to endocrine disrupting pesticides. Read more.
Olivia Rumble, Institute of Marine and Environmental Law (IMEL)
Designation: Senior Lecturer, Institute of Marine and Environmental Law at the University of Cape Town
Olivia Rumble is a Senior Lecturer in IMEL. She holds a PPE from the University of Stellenbosch as well as an LLB and LLM in Environmental Law with distinction, from the University of Cape Town. She has a particular interest in, and has published widely on the topic of climate change law, and has been appointed to assist the Department of Environmental Affairs in drafting South Africa’s Climate Change Bill. Prior to joining the Institute, Olivia was a Senior Associate at ENSafrica, where she specialised in environmental law for seven years. She is currently a director at Climate Legal, a specialist climate change and environmental law consultancy. Olivia is a former clerk of the Constitutional Court and has worked with various NGOs on the intersection of environmental law and human rights. She has extensive experience in the laws relating to water resources, waste management, atmospheric emissions and South Africa’s broad suite of environmental laws. Olivia has advised national government departments and regional bodies on domestic and transboundary water law reform as well as nuclear energy regulatory reform. Her research interests include climate change law and governance, carbon taxes, pollution and energy law. Read more.
Clifford Shearing, Public Law
Designation: Leads the Global Risk Governance Programme
Expertise: Environmental and physical security, with a focus on the development of theoretical understandings that can be used to enhance the quality of security and justice governance
Prof. Clifford Shearing leads the Global Risk Governance Programme. He holds professorships at the Law Faculty, University of Cape Town; Griffith Institute of Criminology, Griffith University, Australia; the School of Criminology, University of Montreal and the Durban University of Technology, as well as a visiting position at the University of New South Wales. Clifford obtained a PhD in Sociology at the University of Toronto in 1977. He is an NRF A-rated researcher.
Clifford is a well-established and internationally recognised scholar in the field of policing and security. His research and writing has focused on the development of theoretical understandings that can be used to enhance the quality of security and justice governance. A focus of his work has been contributing to the development of institutions and processes that enhance the ability of poor collectivities to both direct and add value to their security and justice. He has also been developing research on environmental security. Read more.
Tel: +27 21 650 3072 / 3451 · Email: email@example.com
Anna Steynor, Climate System Analysis Group (CSAG)
Designation: Science Engagement Lead: Climate Systems Analysis Group
Expertise: Climate services, adaptation, scientific capacity building, user engagement in developing decision-relevant climate information
Anna is the lead on climate services in the Climate System Analysis Group. Her background is in applied climate science with a current research focus on the engagement of users and decision-makers in the use of climate information. Through Anna’s expertise in stakeholder engagement and climate services, she plays a key role in implementing and managing ‘research into use’ projects at CSAG as well as implementing capacity building initiatives. Her research interests include, Climate services, User engagement in developing decision-relevant climate information, and science into use. Anna also has more than five years of previous experience working at the UK Climate Impacts Programme.
As an ACDI associate, Anna has worked with ACDI on many collaborative projects. Some examples of these projects include an analysis of the barriers and opportunities for Scientific Capacity Development in Africa, the development of South Africa’s Third National Communication and the development of climate profiles for African countries.
Louise Tait, Transforming Energy Access – Learning Partnership (TEA-LP)
Designation: Communications and Outreach, TEA-LP
Expertise: Sustainable Energy and Development, Urban Energy Transitions, Energy Access, Communications and Outreach.
Louise is responsible for Communications and Outreach in the TEA-LP programme and serves as an energy access sector expert for the project. Her main research interests relate to the nexus of energy and development issues in South Africa and other developing countries. Her two main focus areas are extending basic energy access to poor households; and urban energy transitions in African cities.
She has over ten years’ experience working in the energy and development fields. She has worked extensively in South Africa and other African countries on projects related to energy access (both grid and off-grid), community development, low carbon development and sustainable urban energy transitions. She previously worked at the Energy Research Centre at the University of Cape Town, where she was a member of the Energy Poverty and Development research group, and as an independent consultant.
Emily Tyler, Honorary Research Affiliate
Expertise: low carbon policy, energy policy, economics, critical complexity, complex systems thinking, transdisciplinarity
An economist by training, Emily has focused on climate mitigation in a development context for over 18 years and brings both an economics and complex systems perspective to the policy and practical challenges she encounters in this space. Engaging predominantly with the sustainability transitions and critical complexity theory literatures, Emily’s research agenda considers the ability of these and other theories to gain insight into and support just energy transitions in the South African context, with implications for - and learning from - similar transitions underway globally.
Whilst South Africa is Emily’s home and work focus, she has an appreciation for the international context of domestic climate and energy policymaking through her engagement in international partnerships and work in the EU, Latin America and sub-Saharan Africa. She has worked across a wide range of related issues, including: corporate carbon strategies, climate finance, UNFCCC mechanisms applied to developing countries, South African carbon pricing policies, low carbon transition planning, energy policy, carbon budgeting, and power sector employment.
Emily works predominantly in a consulting capacity and is frequently engaged in transdisciplinary research initiatives relating to her field.
Harald Winkler, Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment
Designation: Professor, Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment
Expertise: Climate change mitigation; energy and climate policy; energy and environmental economics; sustainable development; mitigation
Harald Winkler is a Professor within the Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment at the University of Cape Town. He is rated as an “internationally acclaimed researcher” (B2) by SA’s National Research Foundation, is a member of editorial boards of five international journals, has been a member of the SA delegation to the negotiations under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and been a lead author lead author for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Working Group III on mitigation. Harald’s research interests are focused around climate policy, at international and national level. He led the research work underpinning South Africa’s Long-Term Mitigation Scenarios (LTMS). From 2010 to 2015, a significant focus of his work with other developing countries to share the LTMS experience in a programme called MAPS – Mitigation Action Plans and Scenarios (see www.mapsprogramme.org). He developed the proposal of sustainable development policies and measures (SD-PAMs). Current focus areas and research interests include: the future of the climate regime and implementation of the Paris Agreement, Equity and climate change, including work on ‘equitable access to sustainable development’, equity in nationally determined contributions and ‘zero poverty zero emissions’ pathways, Sustainable energy paths for South Africa, particularly in energy use and supply, Comparative analysis of mitigation actions in cities and in developing countries. Harald has taught and supervised postgraduates since 2000, including teaching in the ACDI courses. and with his ERC colleagues ensures there is a focus on energy and mitigation. Harald was also part of the Steering Committee that set up ACDI. Read more.
Piotr Wolski, Climate System Analysis Group (CSAG)
Designation: Research Officer, Climate Systems Analysis Group
Expertise: Climate change and hydrology
In principle, Piotr is a hydrologist, but in terms of his recent research and activities, he seem to be sitting on a fence, between water and climate. So, he can define himself as a hydro-climatologist. Since joining CSAG formally in 2012, Piotr has been using climate model outputs for hydrological analyses in the context of climate change impact assessment, attribution and seasonal forecasting. He has also been running attribution experiments. Piotr also works on various aspects of visualization and presentation of climate data, that include articulation of uncertainties, developing visualizations such as "plume plots", and analytical tools such as "SOM-space trajectories", and doing all sorts of analyses that often include bootstrapping. It thus seems that in broader context, he revels in figuring out how the uncertainties and errors propagate through the various processing steps that are involved in translating climate data into (hopefully) useful information. Read more.
Gina Ziervogel, Department of Environmental and Geographical Science (EGS)
Designation: Associate Professor, Environmental and Geographical Sciences Department
Expertise: Climate change vulnerability and adaptation; urban governance; Southern African development; participatory research.
Gina is a senior lecturer in the Department of Environmental and Geographical Science at the University of Cape Town. She is a geographer by training, with 15 years of experience in the field of adaptation and vulnerability to global environmental change. Gina completed her PhD in Geography at the University of Oxford in 2002 after obtaining a BSc at the University of Cape Town and her Honours in Environmental Water Management at Rhodes University. She is a P-rated researcher by SA’s National Research Foundation (Prestigious award for young researchers), and winner of the Department of Science and Technology’s Young Women in Science Award in 2015 (humanities and social science). She was also the lead author on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) SREX report – Special report on extreme events and disasters
Broadly speaking, Gina’s research considers vulnerability and adaptation to climate change; integrating climate information into planning; Southern African development under climate change; and urban environmental governance. Gina’s research under the AXA Chair sets out to acknowledge and understand the diverse perspectives on urban resilience, from academics and practitioners to residents, in the South African city of Cape Town. Her ultimate objective is to inform current and future responses on how urban resilience might be better addressed. Read more.
Tel: +27 21 650 4796 · Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Emillie Albert, Masters student (coursework)
Emillie’s interest to pursue a Master of Philosophy in Climate Change and Development at UCT is principally due to her experiences in working in sustainable development projects for vulnerable communities in Rodrigues Island. In this work, through years of empowering communities in green capacity building, Emillie developed a strong and heartfelt passion for this field. She is especially interested in developing green training toolkits, shifting fisher communitiesy to greener and more sustainable livelihoods, and empowering the entrepreneurs of her small island to greener consumption and production practices. Most of Emillie’s leisure time is mostly spent on the beach, hiking, Bungee jumping, in Trampoline parks and the Forest.
Michael Boulle, PhD student
Michael Boulle is a PhD Candidate at the African Climate & Development Initiative (ACDI) at the University of Cape Town (UCT). His current PhD research is investigating the role of knowledge systems in the development and implementation of the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) to the Paris Agreement and NDC Updates in Ghana, Kenya and South Africa. His research is part of the work of the ARUA Centre of Excellence on Climate & Development (ARUA CD, https://arua-cd.org/). He is also a research fellow of the African Research & Impact Network (ARIN, https://www.arin-africa.org/ ). Prior to commencing his PhD research and taking up a position as a Senior Researcher at Change Pathways, he held an Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, International Climate Protection Fellowship at the New Climate Institute in Germany, and before that was a researcher at the Energy Research Centre (ERC), UCT. Michael holds an MPhil in Energy and Development Studies from the ERC, UCT, and a BSc Honours in Development Geography from Rhodes University.
Alice Chilambwe, Masters student (coursework)
Alice Chilambwe is a Staff Development Fellow (SDF) in the school of natural resources at the Copperbelt University in Zambia. For a long time, her career objective has been to gain relevant knowledge in the climate field and understand how climate variability and change affect natural resources to serve her home country, Zambia, Africa and the world at large. Alice has a BSc degree in Agroforestry attained in 2015 from the Copperbelt University Zambia. During her time as a natural science student she became interested in understanding the relationship between traditional farming systems and modern practices, with a specific focus on how climate variability and change affect farming systems. She is specifically interested in understanding the resilience of smallholder production systems to climatic changes in the Zambia Miombo areas.
Khuthadzo Nemakononi, Masters student (coursework)
Khuthadzo comes from Tshitereke and graduated from the University of Venda with BSc and Honours degrees in Environmental Sciences. His Honours research focused on flood vulnerability, response and adaptation. He holds an academic excellence award from Thusanani Foundation for the Bachelors of Environmental sciences, obtained Blackboard training for e-tutoring and e-mentoring from the University of Venda, and served as a Tutor in the School of Environmental Sciences at the University of Venda. He successfully completed the 4th ACCESS “Habitable Planet” Online Course. His research interest is on weather and climate extremes and their impacts on surface water resources and communities, as well as climate change and adaption. Khuthadzo enjoys travelling, singing, playing a guitar and Latin dance.
Colton Rabenold, Masters student (coursework)
Colton Rabenold grew up in the remote southern highlands of Tanzania, where he was most recently managing two large commercial farming zones. With six years of experience in agriculture management, he was instrumental in building out a small holder farmer business model that has since spread throughout Tanzania. Before joining the Great African Food Company's management team, Colton worked for World Vision in both Tanzania and the United States. He was responsible for establishing new operations in the Southern Corridor, which contains the largest expanses of virgin farmland in Tanzania. Colton is fluent in Swahili and holds a B.A. in Political Science and Government from John Brown University where he graduated in 2012. He looks forward to researching and developing new agricultural methods to combat the devastating effect climate change has had on small scale farmers throughout Sub-Saharan Africa.
Chipo Rusere, Masters student (coursework)
Chipo Rusere is a Junior Researcher at OneWorld Sustainable Investments, a Cape Town-based sustainable development consultancy with a focus on climate change. She provides research support for the company on a number of projects spanning a variety of themes, from urban resilience to inclusive green growth. She is also involved in business development, providing support for technical and financial proposal writing. Prior to this position, Chipo managed projects in the sphere of financial inclusion for small to medium enterprises as well as small-scale farmers in Zimbabwe and has experience in stakeholder engagement and delivering workshops and learning networks for small businesses. She is an Economics and Law graduate from Rhodes University and also holds a Masters degree from the University of Cape Town, specialising in Economic Development.
Isabella Trapani, Masters student (coursework)
Isabella Trapani (Germany/Italy) graduated with an International Management Double Degree from Lancaster University (UK) and ESB Business School (Germany) and is passionate about holistic solutions for sustainable development, combining social and environmental justice. After working with the global network for urban sustainability ICLEI, she conducted her undergraduate research on the impact of sustainable urban development on poverty alleviation in Brazil. Most recently, she worked in environmental policy within the field of development cooperation at GIZ.
Carina Wessels, Masters student (coursework)
Carina Wessels enjoyed her career as a professional photographer for nearly 10 years before she decided she wanted to achieve even more in life. Driven equally by a passion for the environment and a yearning to make a difference in the world, she returned to the books in 2013. Carina graduated from Stellenbosch University with a BSc Hons Biodiversity and Ecology degree. Her research focussed on ticks and fleas parasitizing the endangered African Penguin, and was published in the journal Parasitology Research. Carina is also a member of the Golden Key International Honour Society. Carina worked and travelled around the world and she believes this contributed to her mature and open-minded perspective. She is self-disciplined, hardworking, dedicated and eager to learn. Her goal orientated mind-set enables her to perform optimally whether as a leader, in a team or on individual level.
Waarith Abrahams, Masters student (dissertation)
Sylvia Dorbor, Masters student (dissertation)
Sylvia Dorbor Diamond (Liberia) obtained her Bachelors of Science in Geology and Environmental Science and her BSc Honours in Environmental Science from Rhodes University. She is passionate about global sustainability and hopes to contribute immensely to Africa, and the world at large. Her Honours research focused on renewables energy in the form of biogas and she is interested in the use and adoption of renewable energy sources, so as to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions.
Vumande Mjanyelwa, Masters student (dissertation)
Vumande is a Masters student currently registered with the Department of Environmental and Geographical Sciences. She has a BSc in Geology and Honours in Geography from the University of Pretoria and University of the Witwatersrand, respectively. She joined ACDI as part of the “Exploring the Evidence of Water-Energy-Food Nexus Linkages to Sustainable Local Livelihoods and Wellbeing in South Africa” research project team in February 2018. She has a keen interest in climate change, particularly climate change adaptation, and its impact on the global and regional socio-economic landscape.
Khuthadzo Nemakononi, Masters student (dissertation)
Andrew Hall, Masters student (dissertation), AXA Chair Programme
Andrew joined the ACDI’s AXA Research Programme in African Climate Risk in August 2017 as a Masters Research Student. Andrew's Master's research aims to determine the influence of anthropogenic climate change on the 2015-2017 south-western Cape hydrological drought through analysis of various components of the hydrological cycle under modelled factual and counterfactual climate scenarios. Andrew's academic background includes a BSc Hydrology and Geography (2013) and a BSc (Hons) in Hydrology (2015). His current research interests include the attribution of extreme hydro-climatic events in the context of anthropogenic climate change and the associated changing risk. Andrew has been trained as a Hydrologist and has experience in Water Resource Management, Hydrological Modelling and Geographic Information Systems.
Joyce Kimutai, PhD student
Joyce Kimutai joined ACDI as a Masters research student in July 2018 as part of the AXA Research Chair Programme in African Climate Risk. She is now pursuing her PhD at the ACDI. She is part of a multi-disciplinary team from the University of Cape Town and University of Oxford, spanning climate, hydrological, agricultural, ecological and economic and adaptation science. Her research focuses on Probabilistic Impact Attribution in Hydrological and Agricultural Systems in Southern Africa. Joyce has a Bsc in Meteorology from the University of Nairobi Kenya and has worked with the Climate Services division of the Kenya Meteorological Department. Her past research work focused on the attribution of extreme weather/climate events, particularly droughts and floods, in East Africa. Joyce is also a Lead Author for IPCC Special Report on Climate Change and Land, Chapter 3: Desertification.
Margaret Angula, PhD student
Prince Ansah, PhD student
Vhalinavho Khavhagali, PhD student
In his PhD, Vhalinavho focuses on climate change governance in South Africa, investigating the processes and approaches applied in the development of climate change policy and strategy, and to the extent to which the national adaptation strategy addresses these challenges.
Vhali attained his Master of Science degree in Botany and Ecology from the University of Cape Town. Then he joined the cooperate world where he served as the Director: Climate Change Adaptation at the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA), Deputy Director for Biodiversity and Climate Change, and as Senior Scientist at the Department of Environment and Nature Conservation, Northern Cape. Vhali has led the Climate Change Adaptation work in and outside South Africa, holding various key positions, such as Climate Change Negotiator under UNFCCC and CBD, Project Manager for the Long-Term Adaptation Scenario, Provincial and Local Government Climate Change Support Programmes and the Cities Resilience Forum. He is currently serving as the Co-Chair of the Executive Committee Member of the Warsaw International Mechanism of Loss and Damage under the UNFCCC. In 2014, Vhali was nominated as one of the Climate Change Leaders by the Mail & Guardian.
Vhali is a bonafide member of the Zion Christian Church. He is passionate about youth development, writing, poetry, and leadership.
Tiro Nkemelang, PhD student, AXA Chair Programme
Tiro joined ACDI in July 2018 as a PhD student after being awarded the Doctorate Scholarship in the Attribution of Impacts of Climatic Extremes in Southern Africa under the AXA Research Chair Programme in African Climate Risk. He is working with a team of researchers from the University of Cape Town and University of Oxford that looks to locate the fingerprint of anthropogenic climate change on weather and climate extremes in agricultural and hydrological systems in Southern Africa. Tiro’s research focuses on impact attribution on agricultural and hydrological systems in Southern Africa. Tiro completed his MSc Climate Change and Development in 2018 from UCT’s Department of Environmental and Geographical Sciences under the ACDI’s ASSAR scholarship. He holds a BSc (Hons) Meteorology degree from the University of Reading (UK). He has worked as an Associate Researcher in the Climate Change Division at the Botswana Institute for Technology Research and Innovation (BITRI) and as a Meteorologist with the Botswana Meteorological Services.
Kulthoum Omari, PhD student
Lavinia Perumal, PhD student
Lavinia completed her BSc undergraduate and Honours degree at the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Environmental Science and Geography department. In 2014 Lavinia moved to Rhodes University in Grahamstown to complete her master’s degree at the Botany department. Her project focused on drivers of bush encroachment in a semi-arid savanna in the Eastern Cape. After completing her MSc degree, she started her PhD at the University of Cape Town’s Environmental and Geographical Science department. She is currently based at the African Climate and Development Initiative. Her PhD aims to understand the effects of road development on sub-Saharan African ecosystems.