Prof Juliet Hermes is the Manager of the South African Polar Research Infrastructure (SAPRI), the Manager of the NRF- SAEON Egagasini Node, Honorary Professor at the Nelson Mandela University (NMU), Professor at the University of Cape Town (UCT) and heavily involved in a number of international programs and committees where she represent the fantastic work being done in South Africa and Africa as a whole (see list below). She is a passionate physical oceanographer who loves the ocean, a mom of two boys and her life is guided by the words of late Nelson Mandela:
“What counts in life is not the mere fact that you have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.”
She makes a difference in her working environment through her collaborative nature and approachable demeanor.
“At the NRF- SAEON Egagasini Node I am supported by an incredible team consisting of biodiversity, modelling, observing and engagement specialists and of course administrative support. Together we advance our understanding of the marine offshore environment and our ability to detect, predict and react to global change through long term observations, modelling and research data”.
From Interim SAPRI Manager to SAPRI Manager
Juliet was initially involved in SAPRI as the South African Environmental Observation Network (SAEON) institutional champion and worked closely with Dr Tammy Morris and Prof Marcello Vichi in writing the original proposal and following business plan for SAPRI. As the manager of the NRF-SAEON Egagasini Node, which hosts the SAPRI LTO-Land and LTO-Ocean integrated facilities (IFs), she was made the interim manager of SAPRI in November 2021. Following discussions with the National Research Foundation (NRF), Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) and Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment (DFFE) this role was then made permanent on the 1st of April 2023.
“It is a team effort with SAPRI and SAEON staff working closely together and the community also supporting us through the different user fora”.
Role of the SAPRI Manager
The role will change over time, the first 3 years will be overseeing the implementation of SAPRI – setting up the governance, employing the staff, overseeing the user fora groups, reporting to the advisory committees, the NRF and the DSI, working with DFFE, the South African National Antarctic Programme (SANAP) and the Antarctic Legacy of South Africa (ALSA) to integrate SAPRI and to maximize marine and polar sciences in South Africa. Understand the stakeholder needs and support the current community, whilst driving transformation and bringing in new stakeholders in terms of disciplines and institutes. A key aspect is also ensuring the sustainability of long term observations in the marine and polar space, and resolving long going issues between science and logistics.
Once the implementation has happened the role will be more in overseeing the operations, sourcing additional funding, driving transformation and continuing to work closely with DFFE and SANAP.
My expectations for SAPRI are for it to fulfill its vision: “to enable balanced and transformed research growth across the multiplicity of marine and polar disciplines, and to maintain and further expand the world-class, long-term observational research infrastructure and datasets already established within the South African marine and polar research environment.”
Juliet represent South Africa (and Africa) in the following international programs and committees:
- Ocean Decade task force to implement the Africa roadmap (read more here).
- Chair of the Climate and Ocean – Variability, Predictability, and Change (CLIVAR) Indian Ocean Regional Panel.
- Chair of the Indian Ocean Rim Association Academic Group (IORAG) and the node hosts the South African chapter for this.
- Ocean Decade working groups (on capacity development and adaptation).
- Executive committee member of International Association for the Physical Sciences of the Oceans (IAPSO).
- Vice chair on the Observation Coordination Group.
- Work closely with The Global Ocean Observing System for Africa (GOOS for AFRICA).
Images and text supplied by Juliet Hermes.
Anche Louw, South African Polar Research Infrastructure, 09 August 2023.