UP Academic elected to International Board

Posted on October 02, 2018

Dr Thulani Makhalanyane, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Biochemistry, Genetics and
Microbiology has recently been elected to the board of the International Society of Microbial
Ecology (ISME). The board currently has 12 directors from the USA, Europe, South America, and
Australia. At 34 years old, Dr Makhalanyane becomes the first African to join the prestigious
board of directors taking up a 4-year term from October 2018.

The Society, which is based in The Netherlands, recently celebrated its 40 th anniversary. ISME
hosts the biggest biannual symposia on microbial ecology with the most recent meeting, held in
Leipzig (Germany), attended by over 2300 delegates. The Society, in partnership with Springer
Nature, also publishes the ISME Journal which is the leading and most respected in the field
with an impact factor of 9.6. The ISME Society, is the foremost non-profit global network on
microbial ecology which seeks to promote the field through outreach activities sponsored by
the ISME International Fund. These activities are largely through the ISME Ambassador
Program, which is has representatives in over 60 countries.

Microbial ecology, also known as environmental microbiology or microbiomics is the study of
microbes in the environment and their interactions with each other. More information
regarding the field is available on the ISME website at http://www.isme-microbes.org. Dr
Makhalanyane’s research has focused on understanding the microbial ecology of extreme
environments. He has established several new research themes at the University of Pretoria,
including a Marine Microbial Ecology theme focused on South African geographically strategic
regions such as the Southern Ocean.

In 2015, Makhalanyane received the TW Kambule NSTF award as an emerging researcher and
has co-authored over 35 publications since 2012 in leading international peer-reviewed
journals. He has presented his work at several international conferences including the
International Symposium on Microbial Ecology, SCAR Biology Meetings and the Polar and Alpine

Microbiology meetings. He is currently Associate Editor (Frontiers in Microbiology, Extreme
Microbiology section) and regularly reviews for several leading journals within the field (such as
Nature, ISME J, Environmental Microbiology and Giga Science). He also serves on national and
international review panels representing South Africa in Department of Science and Technology
bilateral discussions. He teaches undergraduate modules in Microbiology and Genetics and also
supervises 10 postgraduate students (at M and D and honours level). He has successfully
supervised three doctoral, three masters and five honours students since joining the University
of Pretoria.

- Author Karl Arthur Pelser

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