Posted on March 19, 2021
“The appointment provides me with an opportunity to contribute towards the development of my field and contribute to the success and growth of the field,” says Prof Thulani Makhalanyane, who is a lecturer in the Department of Genetics at UP.
Professor Thulani Makhalanyane was recently appointed Programme Director for the International Society for Microbial Ecology (ISME). He will hold the position for the rest of the term as a member of the ISME board, and be on the board until 2025.
“This is a tremendous responsibility, and I am filling very big shoes,” he says. “My predecessor, who was recently appointed as Chief Scientist for the Australian Antarctic Programme, has left behind an amazing legacy. The appointment provides me with an opportunity to contribute towards the development of my field and contribute to the success and growth of the field.”
According to Prof Makhalanyane, the ISME is the leading society for microbial ecology research globally. In addition to running the biggest conference in the field (the ISME Symposia), the ISME produces premier academic journals by the Nature Publishing group, including The ISME Journal and ISME Communications. The society is headquartered in the Netherlands and is an official charity that aims to serve microbial ecologists and the wider community by supporting research and education.
The Ambassador Programme is one of the ISME’s key activities, and its main aim is to promote the field by helping to support local meetings by establishing regional networks. This is done through the appointment of ambassadors, who serve as representatives, and help to coordinate events in their respective countries. The ISME has representation in more 70 countries spread.
Under his leadership, Prof Makhalanyane hopes that the programme will be able to resume normal functions once there is enough immunity to travel. He aims to set up and coordinate linkages among African countries to expand the programme to at least 10 new countries and increase the proportion of young ambassadors involved in the ISME.
“I would like to continue working hard to grow as an academic and to further advance my field,” says Prof Makhlanyane, who was recently announced as a Pan-African Scientific Research Council (PASRC) fellow. “I am keen to contribute to training microbial ecologists across the African continent and I think my role in the ISME and PASRC are central to these efforts.”
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