SASSCAL whole heartedly congratulates their colleague and friend, Dr. Vera De Cauwer, on her recent successful PhD defence in Leuven, Belgium. On Friday 9 September, the PI of SASSCAL Task 038 successfully defended her PhD at the Arenberg campus of K.U. Leuven (Katholieke Universiteit) University, Belgium. During a 40 minute presentation, she outlined her dissertation “Autecological aspects of the African timber tree Pterocarpus angolensis in support of its sustainable management” to jury and public. The study aimed at gaining more insight into the environmental factors that influence the distribution and productivity of the P. angolensis, also named Kiaat, Dolf or Mukwa. Ecological methods were applied on a large dataset for southern Africa and a study area in the open Baikiaea – Pterocarpus forests at the border between Namibia and Angola. Questions were asked by the jury which consisted of 6 experts of the universities of Leuven, Arizona and Stellenbosch, and the Royal Museum for Central Africa. The public session was immediately followed by a short deliberation and the jury awarded Vera the degree of Doctor of Bioscience Engineering. Afterwards, a reception at the 14th century Arenberg “Kasteel” Castle crowned the event. The PhD study would not have been possible without the support of The Future Okavango (TFO) and the SASSCAL projects, the Namibian University of Science and Technology (NUST) and the Namibian Directorate of Forestry.

Dr. Vera De Cauwer

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