Home > 2014 Courses > SCIENCE, CONSERVATION AND MEDICINE > Our World through Life Sciences


Coordinated by Professor Valerie Abratt, Science Faculty, University of Cape Town

For the second year running, the Science Faculty offers a composite course, this time from the field of the biological sciences, from disciplines which share a way of ‘seeing’ and interpreting the living world. The first lecture will focus on how the modern tools of molecular biology are used to study genetic variation to better understand problems related to endangered species and declining biodiversity. The second lecture will reveal the hidden world of viruses, some deadly emerging viral diseases and little known facts about the essential role viruses have played in our evolutionary history. For example, did you know that if it wasn’t for viruses, a human baby could never have been born? The third lecture will take us back through time to experience first-hand the environments used by our ancestors in southern Africa. It will demonstrate both the stability and the dynamism of familiar landscapes. The fourth lecture will consider estuaries, habitats considered to be amongst the world’s most productive ecosystems but unfortunately also severely impacted by human activities. Human and wildlife conflict are the focus of the final lecture. Using examples of three wildlife species that pose different social, economic, welfare and conservation challenges, it will argue for a multi-disciplinary research approach.

1.    A role for molecules in biodiversity conservation (Dr J. Bishop, Dept of Biological Sciences)
2.    Seeing with tiny eyes: unveiling the secret world of viruses (Dr D. Shepherd, Dept of Molecular and Cell Biology)
3.    Using the past to understand the present and future environments of southern Africa (Prof T. Hoffman, Dept of Biological Sciences)
4.    Scales of impact on estuarine ecosystems (Dr D. Pillay, Dept of Biological Sciences)
5.    Human-wildlife conflict in the Cape Peninsula (Assoc Prof J. O’Riain, Dept of Biological Sciences)


Course code: 1007

Date & time: 20–24 January 9.15 am


Full: R375,00

Staff: R186,00

Reduced: R94,00