New South Africa National Committee for SCAR

New South Africa National Committee for SCAR

South Africa has been involved in Antarctic research since the geophysical year of 1957. The first 10 years of South Africa’s science and research in the Antarctic is highlighted in an article by  DG Kingwell, at that stage the secretary of the South African Scientific Committee for Antarctic Research (SASCAR).

The Antarctic Research of South Africa is  part of The International Science Council (ISC), South Africa.

South Africa is a national member of ISC through the National Research Foundation (NRF) and the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) supported by the Department of Science and Technology (DST). The South African ISC -Secretariat serves the scientific community and the ISC scientific unions and affiliates to which South Africa adheres. The SA ISC Secretariat provides support and organisational services for the ISC National Board of SA, and to the SA ISC National Committees to advance South Africa’s position in international platforms. The total membership of these committees is in excess of 200 scientists.  Approximately 100 South Africans serve on ICS-related commissions and working groups. The ISC activities in South Africa are focused on the following principals:

  • Science-for-policy: Stimulate and support national and international scientific research and scholarship, and to communicate science that is relevant to national and international policy issues;
  • Policy-for-science: Promote developments that enable science to contribute more effectively to major issues in the national and international public domain;
  • Science-for-society: Stimulate science engagement with society;
  • Scientific freedom and responsibility: Support the free and responsible practice of science;
  • Adherence: Support committees through payment of ISC membership dues.

South Africa Science and Research is also part of the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR) where the committee members will represent South Africa at SCAR meetings.

The new National Committee has been announced  in a letter by Tracy Klarenbeek – Professional Officer, Knowledge Advancement and Support (KAS) and their first meeting took place at Stellenbosch University on 6 March 2019.

Dear SANAP Community,

It gives me great pleasure in sharing the names of the individuals selected to represent us all at SCAR. Of course, these individuals will rely heavily on inputs from the entire community, so I sincerely hope that you will be available to support them in their endeavours. Members of the community that are not an the steering committee are still strongly encouraged to participate in SCAR and SCAR-related activities. The DST and the NRF are planning a follow-up meeting with the whole community, hopefully by the middle of the year (academic and other schedules permitting), so as to give feedback on a number of initiatives ongoing that will possibly impact on us all, including plans for current and future SA participation in SCAR. We look forward to seeing you there.

The final list is below, the details of which will be communicated to SCAR in due course.  Professor Bettine van Vuuren was nominated as the Committee Chair, Tracy Klarenbeek as Vice-Chair and Dr Gilbert Siko representing the Department of Science and technology.

Life Sciences Standing Committee of SCAR

  • Thulani Makhalanyane (South African Representative)
  • Bettine van Vuuren
  • Anne Treasure

Physical Sciences Standing Committee of SCAR

  • Sandy Thomalla
  • Sarah Fawcett (South African Representative)
  • Stefan Lotz

Geosciences Standing Committee of SCAR

  • Christel Hansen
  • Werner Nel
  • Geoff Grantham (South African Representative)

Social Sciences and Humanities Standing Committee of SCAR

  • Anché Louw
  • Ria Olivier (South African Representative)
  • Charne Lavery

Please give this committee your support in their efforts to take South African science to the world via SCAR.



International Women’s Day 2022

International Women’s Day 2022

The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is “Break the Bias”.

This year we are featuring three inspiring women within the South African National Antarctic Programme. They are leaders in their fields and represent South Africa on an international level.


Prof Annie Bekker – Stellenbosch University

Professor in Engineering, Director of the Sound & Vibration Research Group, and currently on the international Endurance 22 expedition (Antarctica).

“My job is about applying maths and science to technology… discovering and searching for new things. It is sometimes difficult, it takes long hours, breakthroughs can be incremental… and many times the belief, momentum, and enthusiasm for success have to come from within myself… Today, I love my job and the hard work to this point is absolutely worth it. I could not get here without encouragement, love, and mentorship in key moments. I cannot continue without the support of my family, the example of my colleagues, or the curiosity of my students – their excellence and hunger for their own new frontiers of discovery.

This is your life. Invest in your education. Believe in yourself, try, try again, never give up. Be hungry to learn. Sharpen your skills. Absorb all that is positive around you. Find mentors. Accept responsibility. Rebound from failure. Celebrate success. Be brave. Dream”.

Check out the Sound & Vibraton Research Group website:

Read more about Annie’s work and adventures here.



Prof Isabelle Ansorge – University of Cape Town

Head of the Oceanography Department at UCT and mastermind behind South Africa’s first class afloat – SEAmester.

Isabelle Ansorge is an observational oceanographer, Professor, and first female Head of the Oceanography Department at the University of Cape Town. Having built an observational oceanography career both nationally and internationally, Prof. Ansorge’s interests lie in Indian, Atlantic, and Southern Ocean dynamics that include Southern Ocean eddy transports of heat and salt, frontal dynamics, and variability in the Antarctic Circumpolar Current and its effects on Subantarctic Islands such as Marion Island. Another passion of Isabelle’s is the shipboard training of postgraduate students from all over South Africa and she is the mastermind behind the SEAmester Floating University programme. SEAmester provides an incredible teaching and research platform for South African early-career scientists and lecturers alike. Prof. Ansorge’s list of affiliations is a testament to her extensive experience in the field including being a committee member of the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR), as a member of the start-up committee for the Southern Ocean Observing System (SOOS), as an Executive Bureau Member of the International Union for Geodesy and Geophysics (IUGG) and formally the vice-president of the International Association for Physical Sciences of the Oceans (IAPSO).

Check out the SEAmester website:

Read more about Isabelle here.



Prof Bettine van Vuuren – University of Johannesburg

Professor of Zoology, Director of the Centre for Ecological Genomics and Wildlife Conservation, and Chair of the South African Committee for the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SANC for SCAR).

“The first thing to say is that I believe there is nothing that any person can’t do if they apply their mind (and time) to it. We often set our own ceilings based on general beliefs that society or others impose on us, and it is crucial that we break through these (non-real) boundaries. STEM fields are a case in hand. This is especially true for women, who traditionally were seen as homemakers or child-carers. In STEM specifically, fields such as mathematics, physics, and engineering, and traditionally more field-based disciplines such as zoology, botany, or oceanography, are seen as more suited to men (either because women were not traditionally considered as analytically strong, capable to work in the field, or for that matter, be away from home for any period of time).  It is critical that any person (both men and women) should carefully consider what they enjoy, what their specific strengths are (be that a STEM career for a woman, or as a childcarer/homemaker for a man), and then pursue that with all their strength and passion. Personally, I was initially directed into a field that I had no interest in (because I could not answer questions asked re where I would work if my husband lived in a small town), and from a personal perspective I strongly urge and support women that want to step out of the usual/ typical / what is expected from you by society and follow what they are passionate about”.

Follow Bettine on Twitter (Click here).

You can also visit her website:

Meet the SANC for SCAR committee here.

Read more about Bettine here.


Image of Prof Bekker supplied by: James-John Matthee. 

Anche Louw, Antarctic Legacy of South Africa, 08 March 2022
Celebrating Women involved in SANAP on International Women’s Day.

Celebrating Women involved in SANAP on International Women’s Day.

Today on International Women’s Day we are celebrating all those women involved within the South African National Antarctic Programme (SANAP). International Women’s Day is celebrated on 8 March of each year. 2021 Theme: “IWD 2021 campaign theme: #ChooseToChallenge; A challenged world is an alert world. Individually, we are all responsible for our own thoughts and actions – all day, every day. We can all choose to seek out and celebrate women’s achievements. Collectively we can help create an inclusive world. From challenge comes change, so let’s all choose to challenge.”

                             Within SANAP, women take on many roles. Throughout SANAP we find women in leadership positions which we celebrate; the Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, Minister Babara Creecy, the Director at Knowledge Advancement and Support (KAS) of the National Research Foundation Tracy Klarenbeek, Deputy Directors Kusi Ngxabani and Chuma Phamoli. (Above l-r: Min Creecy, Tracy Klarenbeek, ChumaPhamoli, Kusi Ngxabani)

In the science environment there are many Principal Investigators and the chair for the National Committee of SCAR, Bettine van Vuuren(left). The Champion for the Antarctic Youth Coalition for Antarctic Gateway Cities is Rudzani Silima(right). There have been several students and other women over the past years within SANAP. See slideshow on ALSA Archive and Womens day 2020 on

Cover Image : Tahlia Henry

DEFF: International Series to be filmed on Marion Island

DEFF: International Series to be filmed on Marion Island

Department of Environment Forestry and Fisheries Media Release: International wildlife documentary series to be filmed on Marion Island16 September 2020


Following a rigorous approval process that involved key stakeholders, the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (DEFF) has approved a proposal by the United Kingdom (UK) based film and production company, Plimsoll Productions, to film a wildlife documentary series on Marion Island.

The approval will see film makers and scientists collaborate to ensure the continuation of important research projects on Marion Island. There are significant, globally valued long-term science and conservation projects on Marion Island that were interrupted by the COVID19 pandemic and both parties viewed this as an opportunity for collaboration.

The agreement with Plimsoll Production includes the charter of a private vessel at their own cost, with an offer to transport 7 members of the M77 over-wintering team to the island, in September 2020. This would allow for the mitigation of the impact of Covid-19 on science activities by enabling filmmakers and scientists to combine efforts to enable the continuation of field science programmes on Marion Island, as well as filming incredible natural behaviour. Some of these scientific datasets on Marion Island are nearing 40 years of uninterrupted observations.

In consultation with the Department of Science and Innovation, there was a thorough analysis of the proposed activities and a permit with very strict conditions has been issued. To monitor compliance with the permit conditions, a departmental official will accompany the film crew to ensure that they observe the necessary regulations and protocols. The proposal also went through an extremely rigorous interrogation by the Prince Edward Island Advisory Committee (PEIAC). The PEIAC was established in compliance with the Prince Edward Island Management Plan to ensure that the pristine nature of the Prince Edward Island is maintained and all activities are controlled and in compliance with the Management Plan.

In keeping with the COVID-19 prescripts and regulations, the entire team will adhere to a strict working COVID protocol. For the trip to Marion Island, the charter vessel will be de-contaminated prior to departure. A full inspection will be conducted on the vessel by DEFF to ensure compliance with environmental regulations. The entire filming team, scientists and vessel crew will all be quarantined and COVID-19 tested in the lead up to departure. All participants on the expedition will undergo full medical examinations prescribed for visitors to the Antarctic or Sub-Antarctic.

The expedition will depart from Cape Town to Marion Island in mid-September. 


For media enquiries contact:
Zolile Nqayi
Cell: 082 898 6483 

SANAP celebrates Women in Antarctica on SA National Women’s Day!

SANAP celebrates Women in Antarctica on SA National Women’s Day!

                    On South Africa’s National Women’s Day  we celebrate all the women involved in the South African National Antarctic Programme (SANAP). In the 60 years since the vents of 1956, the phrase has come to represent women’s courage and strength in South Africa. This day is celebrated to empower women and raise awareness. In the last few years many events came about within the Antarctic environment. See the events on the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research website. In South Africa many women play a leading role within the SANAP.

                                                            From L-R: The Department of Environment, Fisheries and Forestry: Minister Barbara Creecy; the Department of Science and Innovation: (previous) Minister Naledi Pandor  and of the National Research Foundation (NRF) Director: Knowledge Advancement and Support, Tracy Klarenbeek

                                                           Within the Department of Environment, Fisheries and Forestry; (From L- R) Deputy Director-General Oceans and Coasts: Ms Judy Beaumont, Deputy Director: Vessel and Helicopter Management .Directorate: Southern Oceans and Antarctic Support: Ms Khuselwa Ngxabani; Operations and Logistics. Deputy Director: Chuma Phamoli

                       66% of the South Africa National Committee for SCAR is women and chaired by Bettine Jansen van Vuuren(left).  70% of APECSSA is also women, chaired by Liezel Rudolph(2nd) and the founder member was Christel Hansen(3rd). The Champion for South Africa Gateway City, Cape Town is Rudzani Silima(right).

                               The two team leaders currently at the South African stations on SANAE(59) and at Marion Island(77) are women. Dr Abigail(Aby) Paton (left) is not new to SANAP and the first women to do 3 consecutive overwinters in Antarctica (SANAE54,55,56 see images below). Winnie  Moodaley (middle) was a member of Marion 76 and to stayed on as Leader for Marion 77 so this is also her consecutive year. Michelle(Risi)Jones(right) current at Gough Island is part of Gough 64 and Gough 65.

                                      Gendered Power Relations and Sexual Harassment in Antarctic Science in the Age of #MeToo by Meredith Nash and Hanne Nielsen Published online: 09 Jun 2020. “The presence and impact of female Antarctic researchers has increased rapidly. In the 1950s most countries did not allow women to work in Antarctica and there were few female Antarctic scientists. Today females are playing leading and influential roles in Antarctic research.”

                         Celebration of Women in Antarctic Research 23 August 2016,Malaysia. This event was a celebration of female Antarctic researchers and aimed to raise their profile to help provide more visible female role models for early career scientists. SANAP was represented(image right).

  • Join the Facebook group Women in Polar Science
  • Follow below on Twitter:
  • Ocean Women @OceanWomxn
  • WomenInScienceSA @OWSD_SA
  • Women in Polar Science @WomeninPolarSci

To read more about the women in history of South African National Antarctic Programme visit the Antarctic Legacy of South Africa website

© South African National Antarctic Programme • Managed and administered by Antarctic Legacy of South Africa • Photo Credits