Professor Karen Esler, head of the Department of Conservation Ecology and Entomology at Stellenbosch University, will be visiting AEL this week to talk to students about challenges facing humankind, including the conservation of biodiversity, especially in nature reserves, farmland, cities, mining and forestry areas.
More about Professor Karen Esler
Our guest lecturer, Professor Esler, has a PhD degree in Ecology that she obtained at the University of Cape Town in 1993. She has worked for the Botany department at the University of Stellenbosch from 1995 to 2004 and thereafter moved into a position as Associate Professor in Conservation Ecology in January 2005. In 2008 she was promoted to full Professor and in 2015 she was appointed as HOD, Department of Conservation Ecology & Entomology.
Areas of Expertise
Transdisciplinary research acknowledges the need for diverse perspectives to enhance understanding of complex social-ecological challenges and is increasingly advocated as a way to bridge the “knowing-doing gap” for sustainable actions. Professor Esler says her work is at the forefront of this research and key to the vision of her academic home, the Department of Conservation Ecology & Entomology, at Stellenbosch University. “My ability to simultaneously navigate disciplinary depths in ecology and to work across disciplines permits me to contribute to interdisciplinary and applied spaces and this makes the academic enterprise so enriching for me. Within my discipline, I have considerable experience in population and community ecology of semi-arid vegetation.” She adds that the overall goal of her research has been to understand how drivers of change (climate change, overexploitation, habitat fragmentation and alien invasion) influence population and community structure and processes in fynbos, karoo and riparian vegetation by researching aspects of seed bank ecology, germination ecology, seedling establishment and phenology.
Professor Esler has a particular interest in linking research with management and teaching with research in social-ecological systems. She has been a core team member of the DST-NRF Centre of Excellence for Invasion Biology at Stellenbosch University since its inception and served as first woman president of the South African Association of Botanists. She is also part of a team to develop a centre for the Transdisciplinary Study of Complexity and Sustainability (TSAMA HUB), which currently coordinates a number of existing PhD candidates at Stellenbosch University. She is particularly interested in promoting women in Science, and serve as chair of the HERS-SA board.
As part of her visit to our school, Professor Esler will share her experience and personal insight on the topic of Conservation Ecology and Entomology.