SACEMA Research Days 2020 - Virtual Edition

2020 Research days virtual edition

SACEMA’s annual Research Days meeting went virtual this year. The meeting, which took place over 3 days, 7 - 9 September 2020, was attended by eighty-two people, including SACEMA bursary holders, their supervisors, postgraduate students from the Biochemistry Department working with Prof Jacky Snoep, the SACEMA-affiliated South African Research Chair (SARChI), representatives from the National Research Foundation, as well as various other researchers and collaborators affiliated with SACEMA.

As always, the meeting started with training workshops for the postdoctoral fellows and students. The workshops included:

  • Planning a research career with impact – presented by Henriëtte Van den Berg
  • Introduction to academic writing skills – presented by Selene Delport
  • Academic writing integrity and Turnitin – presented by Alison Buscholz and Cristan MacLeod
  • Managing your references with Mendeley – presented by Pepler Head

Other events included the Students’ Forum, moderated by MSc student Zenabu Suboi and PhD candidate Jenna Patterson, and the Supervisors’ Forum, chaired by Juliet Pulliam. An inspirational and motivational keynote address was delivered by Mohlopheni Jackson Marakalala, a faculty member at Africa Health Research Institute (AHRI) and an Associate Professor at University College London (UCL). Dr Sheetal Silal, the Director the Modelling and Simulation Hub, Africa (MASHA) and Senior Lecturer in the Department of Statistical Sciences at the University of Cape Town (UCT), presented on her latest research, entitled “Adaptive modelling for a novel virus: reflections on COVID-19 in South Africa”.

The virtual edition allowed us to try a new approach to sharing research, through Research Round Robins (RRR), where presenters showcased their research in 3-5 minute time-slots, followed by questions and feedback. Each of the 4 RRR sessions consisted of 8 channels, and each channel had a moderator and 5 presenters. Over the 3 days, everyone presented their work at least 3 times and after each presentation, the staff and students were allowed to implement any feedback before the next presentation slot. With random assignments to the different channels, everyone had the opportunity to listen to at least 16 other research presentations.

After each session, attendees had to vote for the “Best Talk” and the winners were given the opportunity to present their research to everyone at the final plenary session. The prize-winners were:

  • Staff/Postdoc category: Larisse Bolton and Abigail de Villiers
  • Student category: James Azam, Laurette Mhlanga , Mary Familusi, Gershom Buri, and Tijani Sulaimon

In an attempt to socialize virtually, a games night, coordinated by Junior Researcher Jeremy Bingham, was held on the Tuesday evening. Feedback from all indicated that the first virtual edition of SACEMA’s Research Days meeting was a roaring success!

DSI-NRF Centre of Excellence in Epidemiological Modelling and Analysis