Dr Sally Hofmeyr

Postdoctoral Research Fellow Translational research communication
Phone: 021 650 5073
Email: salhofmeyr [at] gmail [dot] com
Room No.: 3.22
PhD Thesis: Impacts of environmental change on large terrestrial bird species in South Africa: insights from citizen science data [PDF full-thesis 24.8 MB]

Sally grew up in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), and did her BSc(Agric) in Wildlife Science at the University of Natal, Pietermaritzburg campus. Her fourth year thesis was entitled Theoretical foraging models for the cape griffon vulture (Gyps coprotheres). Her interest in birds began in earnest in third year, on a field trip co-led by the legendary Professor Steven Piper, who became her fourth year project supervisor.

Before doing her MSc, Sally spent two years working in South Africa and in the UK, travelling, and finally spending a few months living and working in the Kruger National Park.

In 2003 Sally did a coursework Masters in African Mammalogy through the Mammal Research Institute at the University of Pretoria. Her thesis was entitled Giraffes and the pollination ecology of knobthorns (Acacia nigrescens). It was an intense and highly enjoyable year, involving lots of hard work and several great field trips, including another few weeks in the Kruger Park doing the fieldwork for her project.

Between finishing her Masters and starting her PhD Sally spent another 2.5 years in the UK, where, among other things, she worked at an outdoor environmental education centre. After she returned to South Africa in 2006 she worked for a mapping company in Durban as the camera operator on their aerial survey flights, helped out with the SA-GAINS Avian Influenza project being run through the Percy FitzPatrick Institute at UCT, and did a five-month internship with the IUCN’s Species Survival Commission Chair’s office in Kirstenbosch.

In May 2008 Sally joined the ADU to start work on her PhD, which she completed in 2012. She was supervised by Professor Les Underhill and Dr Phoebe Barnard of SANBI. The thesis used data produced by the Coordinated Avifaunal Roadcounts (CAR) project and the Southern African Bird Atlas Projects (SABAP1 and 2) to assess the conservation status of large terrestrial bird species, especially in relation to land-use change, over much of the country. The project focused on the largely agricultural areas covered by the CAR project, since large terrestrial birds rely heavily on these areas to survive; their range sizes are simply too large to be adequately catered for by protected areas. She focused on six species: Blue Crane, Denham's Bustard, Blue Korhaan, Karoo Korhaan, Northern Black Korhaan and Southern Black Korhaan. She found that all six species are under some degree of threat, but that the Southern Black Korhaan is the most severely threatened of the six. 

In August 2012 Sally commenced a one year post-doctoral fellowship, jointly through the School of Animal, Plant and Environmental Sciences at Wits University and the ADU, mentored by Dr Craig Symes and Professor Les Underhill. This research focuses on the status and conservation of Secretarybirds, which are in decline and have recently been classified as globally Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List. The work included analysis of data from SABAP and CAR, and fieldwork in Tswalu Kalahari

After a brief sojourn in an environmental consulting company, C4 EcoSolutions, Sally returned to the ADU in January 2014 to take up a two-year post-doctoral research fellowship in "translational research communication", in collaboration with OpenUCT. In plain English, this work focuses on communication of science (in particular the many important research findings that are produced by the ADU) to the public. This includes analysing the reach of the ADU's current public communication efforts (mainly via Facebook, but also via other channels such as Citizen Scientist Days, radio interviews, magazine articles, the website, etc.), to assess what works and what doesn't, as well as developing new ways of broadening our reach. She attended two large and diverse conferences in California in February 2015 to talk about the ADU's work and learn about citizen science and science communication in other parts of the world. Many of the attendees were astonished to hear that such ambitious citizen science projects are on the go down here in South Africa! She is also running a study on popular communication practices, and attitudes towards popular communication, throughout the Department of Biological Sciences. This study will throw light on an important and often neglected aspect of research, and will examine ways in which scientists can be encouraged and incentivised to spend more time on telling others about their work.

Publications

Contributor to:

In prep: 

Conference presentations

Other presentations

Delivered presentations on the CAR project, results obtained from the CAR and SABAP data, and conservation recommendations for land managers, to: