Stellenbosch hosted the joint conference of the South African Genetics Society (SAGS) and the South African Society for Bioinformatics (SASBi), themed: “BIO2022 – Bioscience, Big Data & the 4th Industrial Revolution”, held from 24 to 27 April at the Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Study (STIAS). The conference brought together geneticists and bioinformaticians from across the country to discuss the latest trends in research and data analysis in the biological sciences and applications in medicine, agriculture, conservation and climate science, and the bio-economy.
As is the custom, the event is also used for the general assembly of members from the SAGS, at which the leadership of the society is elected for the following term. Stellenbosch University’s animal geneticist in the Department of Genetics, Dr Clint Rhode, was unanimously elected as President of the SAGS. In his inaugural message to the society, Clint highlighted the high standard and variety of genetics research in South Africa:
“I was delighted by the diversity and quality of research that our members conduct, and I was particularly excited by the many master’s and doctoral candidates presenting their work – giving me a sense that the future of South African genetics research, teaching and practice is in good hands.”
He further emphasised the importance of the Society within the bigger national context:
“…Genetics unites biology and is the single most significant driver of discovery and innovation in the broader life sciences and the bio-economy - the importance and relevance of a national Genetics Society as the custodians of the discipline’s ‘knowledge wealth and collective wisdom’ for South Africa, can therefore not be understated.”
Before being elected to the presidency, Clint severed on the SAGS executive as the Treasurer for eight years, he was also the co-chair of the BIO2022 conference, and have been a member of the SAGS since 2008, when he first applied during his master’s candidature. Clint has a primary disciplinary focus in molecular population- and quantitative genetics and a particular interest in how anthropogenic factors influence animal populations of economic importance in aquaculture and insect farming systems.