Field Site Selected—A Quest for Zebras—Life in South Africa

Lab Note #17
Aug 15, 2015

Greetings from South Africa! As of today, I have been in the country for 2 weeks. Settling in quite well—FABI has taken great care of me.

Field Site Selected:

I have exciting news! Mike Wingfield and I have decided on a location to implement the citizen science program and conduct our research—and it is epic! Our field site will be the Cape Peninsula!

The peninsula has a history of Phytophthora cinnamomi problems, with research dating back to the 70s.

The blue dot marks where I am now and the red pin is where our field site is; apparently it is a two hour flight.

Phytophthora cinnamomi is possibly the most ubiquitous Phytophthora species on the planet and it infects many plant species in the Cape. In specific is the silver tree (Leucadendron argenteum), a 'vulnerable' (~almost endangered) species according to the IUCN redlist (

This is a picture of a dead silver tree (killed by P. cinnamomi) next to some healthy ones—photo contributed by Dr. Wilhelm de Beer.

Anyhow, the silver tree and P. cinnamomi will be our 'poster-child' for the project but we will sample other plants and look for other Phytophthora species.

A Quest for Zebras:

I brought my bicycle to South Africa and today I rode to one of the nearby nature reserves in search for Zebras! Here are a few photos I took along the ride:

Smog or Dust? I still havn't been anywhere in this photo

A view from the Reserve

Hark! Zebras! Next quest: Giraffes

Life in South Africa:

I have settled in well, mostly because of a warm welcome and sincere help from two PhD students in FABI, Darryl Herron and Tanay Bose.

I live about a block away from the FABI building in a university owned graduate student residence. It is a small place but I am starting to like it very much.

The view from my stairwell. Campus and a church.

A shot from my window.

My lab bench space.

Campus from the FABI 2 building balcony.

More updates soon! I still havn't spent any of the funding you contributed. I think a flight to Capetown and some transit around the peninsula will be the first item on the budget.

Thank you for your support! I look forward to keeping you updated on this incredible project we are about to start!

Expect more updates!

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