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Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Student leaders at the heart of the socially responsive campus

Mandela Day

How can universities harness the power of student leadership without it being tantamount to "putting a pin on a butterfly"? This was among the questions raised at a recent seminar on the topic of student leadership at the Centre for Innovation in Learning and Teaching.

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Master's student has her say in 'science pop idols'

Stevie Biffen

UCT master's student Stevie Biffen represented South Africa in the FameLab international competition at the Cheltenham Science Festival in the UK.

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Business development training at UCT empowers taxi operators

City of Cape Town

The City of Cape Town is providing business development training facilitated by the University of Cape Town to taxi operators from Mitchells Plain and Khayelitsha, Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille has announced in a statement.

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South Africa is failing to address malnutrition in its older people

Preparing a meal

The traditional extended family system has eroded in much of sub-Saharan Africa, leaving many older people who traditionally depended on this support vulnerable. In rural households, young people often migrate to cities in search of employment. International emigration and the pandemic of HIV/AIDS have also taken their toll.

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What can be done to make sure that wind energy and Africa's vultures co-exist?

Vultures

Many people see wind energy as one of the key solutions to meeting Africa's growing energy demand and mitigating climate change. As a result, wind farms are already under construction or are being planned in many countries across sub-Saharan Africa. But wind farms can pose real threats to bird species, and they have the potential to jeopardise threatened bird populations.

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Explainer: the evolutionary arms race between bats and moths

bats

In the struggle for survival, predators need to capture and consume prey, and prey have to avoid being eaten. Over evolutionary time this has evolved into a kind of arms race between the two, in which predators have evolved specialised weapons of attack and prey have evolved specialised defences. One particular example of this is the arms race between bats and moths.

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New dinosaur from South Africa gets Sesotho name

Sefapanosaurust

South African and Argentinian palaeontologists have discovered a new early dinosaur from South Africa. The specimen was found in the late 1930s in the Zastron area of South Africa, about 30km from the Lesotho border.

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Top World Bank appointment for Bhorat

Professor Haroon Bhorat

UCT economist Professor Haroon Bhorat has been chosen as a member of a select World Bank team that will tackle global poverty.

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Calling township artists to reflect on the power of place

Public art proposal

The African Centre for Cities' Public Art and the Power of Place initiative is calling for proposals for six public art engagements in Cape Town's townships.

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Why parole for Oscar Pistorius is perfectly legitimate

Oscar Pistorius

Very few sentences issued are ever served out in their entirety. This is standard criminal justice practice globally, not just in South Africa, writes Kelly Phelps, senior lecturer in Criminal Justice at UCT.

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Porto Novo: an African city taking action against climate change

Porto Novo

Taking action against climate change is hugely important in the developing countries. This is particularly true for African countries, where the impacts of climate change will hit harder. It is also where development challenges and poverty alleviation needs are most severe.

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Answers to alumni FAQs re: Rhodes statue

Rhodes statue

Do you still have questions about UCT's decision-making process in the run-up to the removal of the Rhodes statue, and its response to recent protest action on campus? In this letter to UCT's alumni, Vice-Chancellor Dr Max Price looks to address some of the main questions and concerns that have been articulated by former students.

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Kenyan researcher wins prestigious international fellowship at UCT

Dr Nadia Chanzu

Dr Nadia Chanzu will be investigating why HIV-positive pregnant women on antiretroviral therapy are at particular risk of pre-term births, while on a two-year postdoctoral fellowship at UCT, sponsored by the AXA Research Fund.

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'Race' is an invention: parting words from Prof Crain Soudien

Professor Crain Soudien

As engineering and health sciences graduands began their academic journeys on 11 June 2015, UCT bade farewell to one of its stalwart scholars. Professor Crain Soudien, the outgoing deputy vice-chancellor, used his keynote speech at Thursday afternoon's graduation ceremony to urge the young academics to imagine what it means to be a society that has moved past not just race, but all markers of power imbalances and inequality.

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Role model scientist: prestigious award for Farrant

Professor Jill Farrant

Professor Jill Farrant of the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology is this year's recipient of the Erna Hamburger prize. This is awarded by the EPFL (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology) WISH Foundation (Women in Science and Humanities) to leading women in science, engineering and architecture worldwide.

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Great Minds: Eight activists who studied at UCT

Activists

As the June graduation season comes to a close – seeing some 1 379 students hooded, capped and on to the next adventure – we reflect on just a handful of the many UCT graduates who have gone on to dedicate themselves to creating positive social and political change in the country and around the world.

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1976 – lost and found

Youth Day

On 16 June 1976, Soweto erupted. School pupils, protesting against apartheid education and language policies, came under police fire. The brutal images went global, precipitating an international outcry. Ahead of Youth Day on 16 June, four members of the UCT community reflect on that day and how it shaped the underlying issues of language, education and political activism among the youth.

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Art and education can dowse flames of xenophobia

June 2015 Graduation

The 2015 mid-year graduation season ended on a high note with two honorary doctorates awarded to pre-eminent scholars concerned with African art and history. Recipients of the UCT Book and Creative Works Awards were also presented with their prizes.

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Struggle hero toasts honorary class of 2015

Ahmed Kathrada

Despite feeling a bit "presumptuous" in doing so instead of his non-retired colleagues, it was like a "disciplined prisoner that still obeys orders" that struggle hero Ahmed Kathrada accepted the task of responding to UCT's vice-chancellor on behalf of himself and his fellow honorary graduates and graduands.

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Active citizenry can change society – Sandile Zungu

GSB Graduation

Engaged and active citizens can improve transparency and accountability, build trust and precipitate important reforms in society, philanthropist and businessman Sandile Zungu told graduands at the Faculty of Commerce and Graduate School of Business (GSB) graduation ceremony on Friday morning.

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Re-ACT conference gets to grips with social responsiveness

Ubunye

Student leaders and the Department of Student Affairs will be holding a conference to explore how students are engaged in social responsiveness initiatives and will explore the ways in which students navigate the social, political and other issues of the day.

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We're in a moment like 1976, says Soudien

Prof Crain Soudien

UCT's responsibility as a post-apartheid university was guiding South African thought on whiteness, blackness, femininity, masculinity, violence, want, fracking, sustainable energy, spatial inequality, drug discovery and the rights of ordinary people living under the aegis of traditional law, argued Professor Crain Soudien at Thursday afternoon's graduation ceremony for the Faculties of Health Sciences and Engineering & the Built Environment.

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Award-winning book gives voice to feminism in Islam

Sa'diyya Shaikh

Assoc Prof Sa'diyya Shaikh has won the 2015 UCT Book Award for her exploration of the ideas of a 13th century Sufi mystic, poet and scholar in Sufi Narratives of Intimacy. Her twin interests are Islam and feminism, two themes she artfully weaves together in the book.

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Biko biography required skilful balancing

Xolela Mangcu

Assoc Prof Xolela Mangcu received the Meritorious Book Award for his telling of Steve Biko's story in Biko: A Biography. He is not only Biko's biographer; he knew Biko personally as both of them grew up in the township Ginsberg, outside King William's Town in the Eastern Cape.

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Appointment of Special Advisor to the Vice-Chancellor on Transformation

VC Desk

In order to ensure the necessary executive focus on the transformation project over the next 12 months, I am appointing a Special Advisor to the Vice-Chancellor on Transformation, Vice-Chancellor Dr Max Price has announced in his latest VC Desk.

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A child's long walk to ... nowhere, really

Mark Fleishman

Professor Mark Fleishman of UCT's Department of Drama has been awarded this year's Creative Works Award for his long-running production, Every Year, Every Day, I am Walking. The mostly wordless play traces a fleeing child and her mother's trek from an unnamed and violence-riddled Francophone African country, to Cape Town, where the family struggles to make a home.

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Three honorary doctorates kick off June graduation

June Graduation 2015

Standing ovations marked the start of the June graduation season in the Jameson Hall this morning when struggle stalwart and law pioneer Ahmed Kathrada, Public Protector Advocate Thuli Madonsela, and Deputy Chief Justice of the Constitutional Court Dikgang Moseneke were awarded honorary degrees (Doctor of Laws).

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What lies behind the rise of jihadist movements in Africa

What lies behind the rise of jihadist movements in Africa

Africa arguably faces the biggest threat to political stability since the collapse of colonialism in the mid-20th century. The threat comes in the main from the proliferation of militant Islamic groups in parts of the continent.

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Suspension of Mr Chumani Maxwele

UCT

Mr Chumani Maxwele faces charges for breaches of the UCT Code of Conduct related to an incident that occurred on campus on Friday 1 May 2015.

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Mineral law book bags meritorious award

Hanri Mostert

Professor Hanri Mostert from the Department of Private Law has won the Meritorious Book Award for her monograph Mineral Law: Principles and Policy in Perspective (Juta 2012).

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UCT initiative tackles healthcare worker shortage in Southern Cape

UCT initiative tackles healthcare worker shortage in Southern Cape

UCT's Faculty of Health Sciences has partnered with the Western Cape Department of Health in an exciting new initiative in the Eden district, which sees final-year health sciences students working alongside health professionals in secondary and district hospitals.

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AIDS: what drove three decades of acronyms and avatars?

Leonardo DiCaprio

With so much written about AIDS and HIV, and more recently anti-retrovirals (ARVs), it is sometimes difficult to remember a time before these acronyms, or to trace their transitions from signifiers of death to symbols of the struggles for hope and life.

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Apartheid continues to cast shadow on equality of opportunity

Leonardo DiCaprio

Countries with a more unequal distribution of income tend to have less economic mobility from one generation to the next. This relationship is often referred to as the "Great Gatsby Curve".

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Why property ownership is not a path out of poverty

Privatised home

Home ownership is associated with a sense of security in an unpredictable world. But recent research suggests that property ownership in and of itself provides no real poverty alleviation, either direct or indirect.

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Fighting TB – South Africa's 'insidious epidemic'

SATVI TB testing

South Africa stands at the centre of a global TB epidemic that is devastating the health of millions and their communities. Researchers at UCT are working with colleagues at Oxford University, health workers, and community volunteers, in the hunt for an urgently-needed new vaccine.

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Archaeology, photography and the making of a disciplinary archive

The Mirror in the Ground

The Mirror in the Ground is a curated book of twelve short visual essays, drawing on photographs from the collection of South African archaeologist John Goodwin. Drawing on a 10-year research project, Nick Shepherd uses these pictures to explore what it means to approach intellectual history through the photographic image.

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UCT opens up mid-year intake for GetSmarter advanced diploma

GetSmarter advanced diploma

More than 400 students are currently enrolled for the two postgraduate programmes offered by UCT through its Across Africa partnership with GetSmarter. These courses – that combine online with residential learning – have been so popular that UCT has opened up a period of additional intake this June.

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Street-smart E. coli outfoxing modern medicine

E.coli

Before the advent of antibiotics in the 1930s, infections associated with E. coli claimed hundreds of thousands of human lives. Today, as we see a rise in the prevalence of drug-resistant E. coli infections, we risk a return to those dark days.

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Tackling child abuse with affordable parenting programmes – and clowns

Parenting programme

In one of South Africa's poorest areas, an imaginative new parenting programme – a collaboration between Oxford University, UCT, UNICEF, the World Health Organisation and the South African Government – is tackling the physical and emotional abuse of children.

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A life with birds: special edition of journal honours ornithologist Phil Hockey

African Oystercatcher

Understanding avian adaptation to climate change, why the African oystercatcher is no longer a threatened species, and the discovery of a new breeding ground for blue petrels – all of this is covered in a special edition of Ostrich: Journal of African Ornithology, published to commemorate the life and work of the late director of UCT's Percy FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology, Professor Phillip Hockey.

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Namibia's award-winning fish regime needs to move up a gear

GetSmarter advanced diploma

Before Namibia gained independence in 1990, foreign freezer trawlers exploited the country's rich fishing grounds with next to no benefits to Namibians. But two decades after independence, Namibia won the prestigious Silver Future Award for its progressive fisheries policies.

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UCT inventors honoured

UCT professors Kit Vaughan and Ed Rybicki

UCT professors Kit Vaughan and Ed Rybicki were top achievers at the annual innovation evening hosted by Research Contracts and Intellectual Property Services (RCIPS) recently to recognise UCT inventors and their achievements.

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Facts related to suspension & disciplinary charge against Mr Chumani Maxwele

UCT

Mr Chumani Maxwele is a registered University of Cape Town student. Ordinarily we treat student disciplinary matters as private and have, until now, not made public any details of the allegations against him. Mr Maxwele has, however, chosen to put these matters in the public domain.

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New UCT lab to safeguard SA public

UCT Hair and Skin Research Lab

A unique lab focused on hair and skin was launched at Groote Schuur Hospital recently – in what is considered a first for South Africa.

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South African students must be given the chance to read what they like

Steve Biko

University curricula in South Africa are still largely European or American in origin and focus. In some spaces, though, academics are starting to shift the terrain by introducing an African-centred curriculum.

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Fast, cheap calories may make city birds fat and sick

Cape sugarbird

This past century has seen rampant growth in urbanisation. Species facing this blitz of accelerating, human-driven change don't always cope well. Birds are among the most visible windows into this world of vulnerability.

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'Seeding a passion for knowledge'

Fezeka High School

A group of Western Cape academics and professionals have come together to celebrate and support top-achieving high school learners in South African township schools, starting at Fezeka High School in Gugulethu.

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Initiative to advance African influence in global environmental health

South African-Swiss (ZA-CH) Bilateral Research Chair

UCT and the Swiss Tropical Institute/University of Basel have launched a historic South African-Swiss (ZA-CH) Bilateral Research Chair, aimed at advancing the voices of African experts in global environmental health research.

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Genetic diversity of the Chacma baboon key to understanding conservation in a time of climate change

Chacma baboon

The Chacma baboon (Papio ursinus) is one of the best-known characters of the southern African landscape. What we have not known until recently, however, is that South Africa may be home to two distinct baboon species, separated around 1.5 million years ago during a time of immense environmental change. This has important implications for the conservation of biodiversity in the future.

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The missing middle of South Africa's economic ladder threatens stability

Clothing factory workers

Unless South Africa's persistent inequality is addressed, the country risks sliding into an accelerating downward spiral of rent seeking, cronyism and corruption.

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Fourteen UCT finalists for prestigious awards

NSTF-BHP Billiton Awards

Twelve UCT researchers and two spin-out companies have been selected as finalists for the NSTF-BHP Billiton Awards for 2014/15. The national awards celebrate outstanding contributions to science, engineering, technology and innovation in South Africa.

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South Africa needs a professional civil service

Union Buildings with Mandela statue

Endless factional battles, suspensions, resignations, golden handshakes, graft, cronyism. These are symptoms not only of institutional dysfunction but also of a failing public service in South Africa today.

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No easy solutions to wildlife trafficking

tortoise

There are no easy solutions to the growing scourge of international wildlife trafficking and the illicit trade in rhino horn and ivory. All too often, law enforcement efforts in countries that are directly affected stop where borders begin, allowing transnational syndicates to operate with impunity.

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A solution to South Africa's wildlife crisis?

rhino horn

The debate around legalised trade in rhino horn as one of the proposed solutions to rampant poaching is perhaps the most divisive issues in conservation today. Would a stable, regulated supply of rhino horn bring down current black market prices?

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Professor Crain Soudien to head HSRC

Crain Soudien

Professor Crain Soudien will be leaving the University of Cape Town to take up an appointment as the Head and Chief Executive Officer of the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) on 1 September 2015.

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PhD profiles: Raising awareness of neurodegenerative diseases

Dystrophy

In the run-up to the June 2015 graduation, we profile some of the research done by PhD graduates from December 2014. Meet Danielle Smith, whose doctoral research in human genetics focused on a heritable neurodegenerative disease that afflicts a number of South Africans, and often leads to people being wheelchair-bound and unable to see: Spinocerebellar ataxia type 7 (SCA7).

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Why Africans must join forces to protect scarce water resources

scarce water resources

African water resources are under increasing stress and the continent is likely to face significant water shortages by 2030. Population growth combined with climate change and continued economic development will put further stresses on water resources and infrastructure.

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PhD profiles: Communities consolidating peace in Northern Uganda

Gulu women

In the run-up to the June 2015 graduation, we profile some of the research done by PhD graduates from December 2014. Meet Samson Barrigye, whose doctoral research focused on the role of ordinary Uganda citizens in peacemaking and conflict resolution, and advocated for more bottom-up processes in which communities can participate.

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The devastating condition that can cause cancer in children

Cancer syndrome

Doctoral candidate Lindiwe Lamola has had a grudge against cancer since it caused the death of her much-loved grandmother. She is channeling her energies into examining a rare genetic syndrome that puts people at risk of developing cancer in childhood.

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UCT and Rhodes Must Fall sign agreement

VC Desk

UCT and the students who have been occupying Avenue House have signed an agreement that has been made an order of the High Court of South Africa, Vice-Chancellor Dr Max Price announces in his latest VC Desk.

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South Africa's first engaged scholarship programme launched

South Africa's first engaged scholarship programme launched

Enlarge the horizons of your own 'seeing', so that you don't end up simply being a product of your history, Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Crain Soudien said at the recent launch of UCT's Engaged Scholarship Programme.

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Transformation: what's the past got to do with it?

UCT's Safety and Violence Initiative

UCT's Safety and Violence Initiative recently organised a public seminar, aimed at investigating the issues and dynamics that inform transformation debates on campus and in South Africa – and consider ways we can have more empowering conversations on transformation.

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A different route to reducing university drop-out rates

Engineering Student

South Africa is in the grip of a skills shortage. Among the top ten skills needed to boost its lacklustre economic growth are civil, mechanical, industrial and chemical engineers, writes Professor Jennifer Case of UCT's Department of Chemical Engineering.

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PhD profiles: Keeping science in the family

PhD profiles: Keeping science in the family

In the run-up to the June 2015 graduation, we profile some of the research done by PhD graduates from December 2014. Meet Penny Driver, who was working in financial mathematics for a merchant bank when a UCT talk on climate change inspired her to register for a doctorate in ocean and atmosphere science, looking specifically at rainfall variability over Southern Africa.

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Seven honorary degrees to be awarded in 2015

Seven honorary degrees to be awarded in 2015

This year, UCT will award honorary degrees to seven highly esteemed figures for their contribution to activism, the arts, law and the economy.

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Undergraduate research: from the bottom up

Undergraduate research

Once the research bug bites you, it will never let you go, says deputy vice-chancellor for teaching and learning, Professor Sandra Klopper. She is leading a campaign to encourage research-led teaching at UCT and increase the visibility of undergraduate research.

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Cigarette taxes lead to big drop in smoking

Woman smoking

Smoking in South Africa has decreased substantially over the past two decades, particularly among the young and the poor – and research shows that this is largely thanks to sharp hikes in excise taxes, which have pushed up the price of the average pack of cigarettes.

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Reviving extinct languages the mobile way

Sunkanmi Olaleye

A desire to preserve languages and pay tribute to the rich San culture is at the heart of the Xamobile project, which will allow users to text and perhaps even play games in the extinct |Xam language on mobile devices.

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Africa can emulate China's development

Africa can emulate China's development

"We think it is possible to effect change in a generation [in Africa]. China has done it. If we want to do it, we can do it," Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, chair of the African Union Commission, said at the opening of UCT's China-Africa Colloquium today.

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Disrupting gender: 'decolonisation necessarily requires degendering'

Disrupting gender

The Trans Collective's first seminar, Disrupting Gender, asked how the physical and non-physical spaces of the university could be reconfigured to include all forms of gender variance expression.

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How well can you remember a nose? The problem with identikits

The problem with identikits

A study has found that we recall faces better when we think of them in their entirety, rather than feature by feature. This could have significance in the world of crime-solving, where 'featural' identikits are still used.

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People and wildlife: a status report

Wildlife in crisis

Director of UCT's Centre of Criminology, Prof Mark Shaw, gives an overview of the first day of discussions at the Wildlife in Crisis conference, looking at all possible responses involving people and their interactions with wildlife.

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Fire alarm shows early success

Fire alarm shows early success

An engineering Honours thesis by UCT graduate Francois Petousis gave rise to a fire detector, designed and distributed by technology start-up Lumkani.

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Wildlife in crisis

Wildlife in crisis

Over the past decade, the illicit trade in wildlife and animal parts has become a multi-billion dollar black market industry. A significant rise in the rate at which animals, across a range of species, are being illegally exploited has generated a global outcry. Prof Mark Shaw, director of UCT's Centre of Criminology, considers some of the solutions posed – and hotly debated.

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UCT grants amnesty to protesters

VC Desk

UCT has made an executive decision to grant an amnesty in respect of all protest-related incidents that occurred between the first protest on 9 March 2015 and 18 May 2015, Vice-Chancellor Dr Max Price announces in his latest VC Desk.

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Up and coming research stars receive awards

Up and coming research stars receive awards

How can we better understand drug-induced liver injury? What happens when HIV infections coincide with tuberculosis and diabetes? What mechanisms are behind the distribution and decline of animal species?

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Dlamini-Zuma to open UCTs China-Africa colloquium

Dlamini-Zuma to open UCTs China-Africa colloquium

Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, chair of the African Union Commission, will deliver the keynote address at the opening of the China-Africa Colloquium at UCT from 21 to 22 May.

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UCT upholds suspension of student pending disciplinary hearing

UCT campus

The University of Cape Town confirms that it has suspended a student pending a disciplinary hearing following an incident that occurred in an academic department on Friday, 1 May 2015.

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Simon season showcases diverse SA plays

Simon season showcases diverse SA plays

Coinciding with Africa Month at UCT and in partnership with the Baxter Theatre Centre, the Department of Drama is commemorating the life and work of prolific South African theatre-maker Barney Simon in a season of plays, Touched by Barney Simon: A Retrospective, at the Little and Arena Theatres.

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South Africa must start managing its retreat from the coast

South Africa must start managing its retreat from the coast

Phoebe Barnard, Lead Climate Scientist, SANBI; Lead Researcher, Climate Change Vulnerability and Bioadaptation at the University of Cape Town, argues that a managed retreat from the coastline is necessary.

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Reclaiming African roots through dance

Reclaiming African roots through dance

A celebration of Africa and its diverse cultural influences was at the centre of the UCT School of Dance's most recent production titled Routes to Roots. Presented in the first week of Africa Month, the production reflected on the spate of xenophobic attacks plaguing South Africa and made a case for integration through creative movement.

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Chaeli Campaign strikes gold (twice)

Chaeli Campaign strikes gold (twice)

Two sets of dancing double-world champions have emerged from the Chaeli Sports & Recreation Club - part of the Chaeli Campaign - which was started by a UCT student to fight for young people with disabilities to have fair access to opportunities and services.

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First African Union Chapter launched at UCT

First African Union Chapter launched at UCT

A mentorship programme, a journal and an annual talk shop that seeks to address uniquely African problems are some of the elements that will be embarked upon by the first African Union chapter established on the continent.

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UCT confirms suspension of student

UCT

The University of Cape Town confirms that a student was suspended on 7 May 2015 and will face disciplinary charges following an incident that occurred in an academic department on Friday, 1 May 2015.

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Commemorative squash tournament in its 10th year

TransformUCT: Drop punitive policy, give students space

The Keith Grainger Memorial UCT Open Squash Championships was bigger than ever this year, with 78 male and 32 female players competing. The tournament also saw ten under-14 players taking part in their first-ever major event.

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TransformUCT: Drop punitive policy, give students space

TransformUCT: Drop punitive policy, give students space

The Black Academic Caucus, also known as TransformUCT, calls for the university to stop exercising punitive force against students and staff involved in the Rhodes Must Fall movement, and to provide a space where students in the movement can come together and debate transformation and decolonisation at – and of – UCT.

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UCT launches next MOOC – What is a mind?

Mark Solms

Following the successful delivery of its first Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) Medicine and the Arts: Humanising Healthcare, the university is set to launch its second MOOC, What is a Mind? in which UCT's Professor Mark Solms tackles a question that has perplexed humankind across time and cultures.

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