Postgraduate projects available


All formal applications for higher degrees (master's and Ph.D.) should be made online through the University of Pretoria website ( and must clearly identify Prof Cowan or Dr. Makhalanyane as the supervisor of choice.  Applications for postdoctoral positions (letter of application plus full CV) should be made directly to Professor Cowan ([email protected]) or Dr. Makhalanyane ([email protected]).

Bursaries for many of these projects are subject to research grant proposals currently under consideration.  All projects are available to applicants carrying Free-Standing bursaries.



                 AME1: Deciphering permafrost microbial ‘dark matter’ (Ph.D.: Makhalanyane, Cowan)

                 AME2: Shotgun metaproteomics and metabolomics analysis of Antarctic  permafrost  (Ph.D.:


                 AME3: Comparative metagenomics of microbial communities across Antarctic terrestrial

                            environmental gradients (Ph.D.: Cowan)

                 AME4: Using genomics to monitor stress-induced mutations in Antarctic bacteria  (2 x MSc: Cowan)





                 SOMME1: Disentangling the seasonal patterns of Southern Ocean bacteria, archaea, fungi, and

                                  viruses (Ph.D.; Makhalanyane)

                  SOMME2: What is the influence of trace elements on microbial communities and chemoautotrophs

                                    in the SO? (Ph.D.: Makhalanyane)

                 SOMME3: Which specific chemoautotrophic taxa are likely to contribute significantly to oceanic

                                 CO2 assimilation processes? (Ph.D.: Makhalanyane)

                 SOMME4: Determining the quantitative rates of heterotrophic and chemoautotrophic guilds to CO 2

                                 fixation in the Southern Ocean (Ph.D.: Makhalanyane)




                SASME1: Determining the influence of climate change on South African soil microbiomes


                SASME2: Understanding the influence of carbon: nitrogen stoichiometry on the microbial community

                                 structure (Ph.D.: Makhalanyane)

                SASME3: The effects of nutrient amendments on soil bacterial and fungal communities in South

                                 African biomes (2 x MSc: Makhalanyane)

                SASME4: Phylogenetic fingerprinting of microbial communities in sub-Saharan African soils (Ph.D.:




                NDME1:  Decadal-scale changes in soil microbial structure across the Namib Desert (Ph.D./MSc: Cowan/Ramond) 

                NDME2: The pathways and kinetics of hypolithic community development (MSc: Cowan/Ramond)

                NDME3: Genomics of Namib Desert cyanobacteria (Ph.D.: Cowan/Ramond)



                SAHMP1: Using mouse models to understand the effect of chemical toxins on the gut microbiome  

                                 (Ph.D.: Makhalanyane)

                SAHMP2: Assessing the antibiotic resistome in the gut microbiota of healthy South African individuals

                                (Ph.D.: Makhalanyane)







- Author Prudy Seepe
Last edited by Prudy Seepe

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