University of the Western Cape, Department of Biology
Principle Investigator, South Africa:
Davison, Sean Dr
Financed by NRF:
2004: 133,000 2005: 142,000 Main Objectives:
Sexual assault is a significant problem facing South African society. Between 1994 and 2001 the SA Police service indicate that for every 100 000 individuals, 50 to 60 rapes were reported annually. We aim to develop and implement improved forensic tests for the investigation of rape cases.
Forensic identity testing is achieved by examining polymorphic regions of DNA. Typically sets of polymorphisms are examined together to provide a genetic profile. The polymorphic markers most commonly used lie on the autosomal (1-22) chromosomes. While they have an excellent capacity to distinguish between individuals they do have disadvantages. In sexual assault cases it is often difficult to separate the female victim’s profile from the rapist's profile.
Analysis of Y-chromosome polymorphisms overcomes this by generating male specific profiles. Mitochondrial polymorphisms address a different problem. Mitochondrial DNA is significantly more abundant that nuclear DNA. As a result mitochondrial typing is often able to generate a profile when insufficient DNA is present for other typing systems.
Main Objectives and Methodology:
This study aims to identify novel Y-Chromosome markers more polymorphic than those reported to date. Over 25 Y-chromosome Short Tandem Repeat markers (Y-STRs) have already been reported. The majority of these were identified using conventional techniques prior to the release of the draft human genome sequence. Direct sequence analysis provides a more efficient way of identifying STRs. Over 22 mega bases of Y-chromosome sequence is currently available.
We have used this sequence to identify 787 potential STRs. These STRs have been ranked according to theoretical criteria (number of repeated units and homology between repeat units). A subset of approximately 30 of the most promising STRs has been selected for further analysis. The polymorphic content of these STRs will be determined in a cohort of 38 individuals using conventional polyacrylamide gels. The most polymorphic STRs will then be combined into a multiplex suitable for automated genotyping. This will be used for a more comprehensive population study. After the population study the multiplex will be refined for forensic casework. The South African laboratory will undertake this work.
Population studies are essential for the use of genetic markers in forensic studies. Sub-populations will be defined on the basis of Language, Race and Religion. A minimum of 100 samples will be analyzed for each sub-population. Samples will be typed for the most polymorphic set of Y-STRs. The population samples will also be typed for established mitochondrial polymorphisms. The results will be compiled in a database. It will then be possible to consult the database to determine the significance of matches in forensic casework. The South African group will collect population samples and conduct the Y-STR typing. The Norwegian group will conduct the mitochondrial typing and will lead the analysis of all of the population data.
Significance of proposed Research:
The research is expected to generate a Y-STR typing system with a high capacity to discriminate between individuals. In addition, the population data necessary for the implementation of forensic Y-STR and mitochondrial typing will be gathered. This will broaden the range of tools available to forensic scientists.
Mode of cooperation:
Erika Hagelberg's laboratory has extensive experience with mitochondrial typing and the analysis of population data. Sean Davison's laboratory has developed a robust capacity for genotyping with an emphasis on Y-chromosome markers. The laboratories complement one another and will share data as it is generated using e-mail telephone conferencing and direct visits.
32 Care environments for infants and young children affected by HIV/AIDS Project no:
Human Sciences Research Council, Child, Youth & Family Development
Principle Investigator, South Africa
Richter, Linda Marleine Dr
Financed by NRF:
2004: 282,000 2005: 113,000 Main objectives:
The 20-month program of research collaboration between the Norwegian and South African investigators aim to:
Conduct detailed observations of children's activities, care experiences and interactions with caregivers in a variety of modal environments in which children affected by HIV/AIDS receive care, selected from among rural and urban homes, foster families and institutional environments.
On the basis of these in-depth ethnographic observations, an instrument will be developed to assess the quality of care environments for small children.
The original work plan included the validation of the instrument through its application to the evaluation of care environments of children with known outcomes - well adjusted and healthy children in high-risk environments, as well as children in similar environments whose health, cognitive and social development has clearly suffered. However, this stage will have to be held off until further funding for the project can be found.
The respective roles of the co-operating partners in carrying out the proposed research plan should be indicated.
The study has, in fact, begun through the support of a start-up grant from the Norway-South Africa Program on Research Cooperation. A one-week workshop involving all the applicants from Norway and South Africa was held in January. The workshop involved field site visits to homes, foster families, institutions and hospitals in and around Durban, as well as discussions with community agencies and health authorities. Three days were spent debating the first proposal and refining ideas for this proposal. A detailed research plan was constructed and roles in the project were clarified. Agreement was reached on the mode of cooperation between the Norwegian and South African collaborators, capacity development efforts for postgraduate students from both countries, and joint publication policy.
The 20-month study involves two distinct phases: Observations of care environments, and construction of an assessment tool with which to evaluate care environments. The project is limited in its scope to children under five years of age. Research activities will take place in and around Durban and the Valley of a Thousand Hills in KwaZulu-Natal, and in Khayelitsha in Cape Town.
Mode of cooperation:
The project will formally begin with the appointment of project staff and the selection of postgraduate students. At the same time, the proposal will be submitted to the Human Sciences Research Council Research Ethics Committee for approval. Sites for the study will be selected and preparatory activities put in place to enlist the cooperation of communities, institutions and families who will be involved in the project. In both Cape Town and Durban the study group will work in cooperation with community-based programs established to assist children and families affected by HIV/AIDS. The project coordinators in each centre, both Clinical Psychologists with special training in child development, will initiate a comprehensive review of the literature on care environments from a variety of perspectives, with the assistance of postgraduate students.
Each of the project collaborators, in Norway and in South Africa, will give guidance to the literature in the specified area of their expertise. For example, Professor Andy Dawes will guide the review of literature on care environments in the field of child sexual abuse and community violence. The Norwegian students will specifically assist with the literature review during their placement period in South Africa
Phase I – Observations:
In each centre (Cape Town and Durban), 15 care environments will be selected for detailed observation, 30 in all. Five environments will comprise family care of poor and vulnerable children, five will involve foster care of children affected by HIV/AIDS, and five will involve institutional care. Non-random sampling for maximum difference will be used to select the sites to ensure variability in the care environments observed.
A consultant anthropologist in each centre (Dr Heather Brookes, Human Sciences Research Council- in the Durban site, and Dr Patti Henderson from the University of Cape Town - in the Khayelitsha site) will be employed to train the postgraduate students in ethnographic observations, note-taking and interpretation. Following training, a pilot study observing children's activities, care experiences and interactions with caregivers in the 30 sites will be undertaken for a period of 2-3 weeks. At the end of this period the study group; including the Norwegian collaborators, will meet in Durban or Cape Town to review the pilot study results and to fine-tune the observational methodology.
Observations will be conducted for 3 hours a day at different times of the day, 3 times a week for 2 months in each observation condition. For the first two weeks, the postgraduate students will be supervised by the consultant anthropologists and adjustments made to the detail and interpretive quality of the observation notes.
At the end of the observation period, the South African project team will compile a report on the observations with a draft outline for an assessment tool. A workshop will then be convened for both the Norwegian and South African collaborators to examine the observation notes and the draft assessment tool, and to make recommendations for adjustment.
Phase II - Development of the assessment tool:
On the basis of the joint workshop, a rating system will be developed for the assessment of the quality of care environments. The tool will be sent to the Norwegian collaborators for comment and adjustment. The project report will consist of the comprehensive literature; the methodology for the observational study, together with the results; the final assessment tool; and guidelines for the application of the assessment tool in families, foster and institutional care. The guidelines will also describe in what ways care environments assessed to be deficient on one or other dimension will have to be improved to meet children's care needs. The 20-month project and the final report will pave the way for the development of a proposal for an intervention study designed to improve care environments along the dimensions measured by the care environment assessment tool.
The overall objective is to contribute to developing the understanding of disability and the complexity of the disablement process in accordance with the recently finalized International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health. Specific objectives:
develop a design for studies on living conditions among people with disabilities in South Africa and carry out a study in Western and Eastern Cape Provinces among Xhosa speaking people
test global type questions (internationally comparable general indicators) on level of functioning, activities and participation and their application in a local context
develop critical knowledge about how the core concepts are able to identify key barriers for daily life activities and social participation
build research capacity through exchange of researchers and cross-disciplinary collaboration
build user capacity to utilize research to the benefit of people with disabilities.
The project will comprise two integrated research projects; one survey among a Representative sample of the Xhosa speaking population in East and West Cape Provinces, And one anthropological study in selected local communities within the same geographic area. The two studies will be integrated through a joint research team and workshops.
Significance of proposed Research
It is expected that this research will generate new knowledge about
the situation of people with disabilities in South Africa determinants of activity limitations and restrictions in participation
the meaning and relevance of the core concepts in the ICF model in this particular context.
The research will thus meet an explicitly formulated need for generating information about the level of living conditions among people with disabilities in South Africa and contribute to the verification, the development and application of the ICF model and our understanding of the disablement process. In particular, the combination of anthropological and survey methodology provides an opportunity for a critical examination of our current conceptual framework for understanding the disability phenomenon.
Mode of cooperation
One Research Team will be organized in South Africa and ore in Norway. Co-ordination across the two teams will be ensured through a Steering Committee comprising the two Principal Investigators and the Project Coordinators. A written agreement describing specific roles in the research project including responsibilities within the two Research Teams as well as joint milestones during the project period will form the basis for the collaboration.
Principal Investigators have the overall professional responsibility for the research. Project Coordinators are responsible for the day-to-day activity, for progress and for the Project infra-structure. University of Oslo and University of Western Cape will be jointly responsible for the anthropological study. University of Cape Town and SINTEF Unimed will be jointly responsible for the disability survey.
The role of DPSA (SA) and FFO (N) will be to ensure relevance of the research for people with disabilities and that a user perspective is present and influences all aspects of the research process. Both organizations have an active engagement in research that will contribute to link this project to ongoing and relevant activities in South Africa.
34 Environmental Responses in Collembola (SPRINGTAILS): Implications for Climate Change Project no:
Responsible University/Institution, Norway:
University of Oslo, Department of Biology
Principle Investigator, Norway:
Leinaas, Hans Petter Professor
Financed by RCN:
2004: 215,820 2005: 138,864
Responsible University/Institution, South Africa:
University of Stellenbosch, Department of Botany & Zoology
Principle Investigator, South Africa:
Chown, Steven Loudon Dr
Financed by NRF:
2004: 153,000 2005: 101,000 Main Objectives:
The main object of the proposed project is to study thermal adaptation and desiccation resistance in relation to climate change and species interactions in southern Collembola of the Sub Antarctic Marion Island and northern species from the Norwegian mainland and Svalbard.
We will focus on the following hypotheses:
Thermal adaptation (differences in thermal reaction norms of development between species). Northern hemisphere species have steeper rate-temperature curves than southern hemisphere species. Rate-temperature curves are steeper in (northern) invasive spring tail species than indigenous species on Marion Island.
Desiccation (cost of adaptation in terms of reduced respiration, intro-specific variation and competitiveness): Intra specific variation in cuticular structure and desiccation resistance depend on the range in humidity conditions of all habitats occupied by the species. Differences in cuticular protection against desiccation among related species will be reflected in corresponding differences in respiration and in growth rate under identical conditions.
Thermal reaction norms in rate of development will be studied in a series of species from both hemispheres at different temperatures according to our standard procedures. Strategies for desiccation resistance will include rates of survival and water loss under controlled conditions, physiological adaptations and cuticular modifications. This will be related to habitat occupancy, to evaluate its importance for structuring species assemblages, and their sensitivity to change in humidity conditions. Respiration studies will be tested as means to evaluate cost of adaptation.
Significance of proposed Research:
The project represents a quite unique multi-level approach in studying effects of climate change. The combined studies on physiological processes and thermal reaction nouns of life history traits, elucidating mechanisms and costs of adaptation, will represent a contribution to the understanding of direct vs. indirect responses underlying effects of climate change on natural communities. It also forms a necessary basis for further exploitation of this fundamental question concerning climate change.
The comparison of physiological and life history strategies between northern and southern species represents an additional contribution to the general understanding of adaptation to cool climate and effects of climate change. By comparing similar taxa from the two hemispheres we will be able to test the major hypotheses recently put forward to explain north-south differences in physiological characteristics. The comparison will also provide considerable insight into the differential responses of invasive and indigenous species to climate change. Invasive species and climate change constitute two of the most significant threats to modern diversity and its conservation, yet their interactions are poorly documented. Our study will be one of the first to do so, and therefore is of considerable significance.
Mode of cooperation:
The co-operation will include co-supervision of South African research students, visits by South African research students to Norway and Svalbard for training and collaborative research, joint laboratory workshops between members of the groups to plan research, analyze data, and write-up the results, and collaboration between the PIs on the development of further joint research on similar topics.
35 ICT-UCT: Information Communication Technologies in University Communities of Teaching Project no:
The effective and strategic implementation of ICTs in higher education needs to include the development of the digital, multiliteracies of university teachers in a contextualized approach to the communication design of curriculum and content for learning.
What role can workshops play in the development of a community of practice of educators using educational technologies within Humanities?
How can workshops be designed to optimize the integration of ICTs in the Humanities curriculum?
In what ways do institutional contexts impact on the use and uptake of ICTs in such communities of practice?
Activity Theory will provide a methodological framework for understanding the learning related elements of the research and especially the roles of ICTs in the mediation of academics competence building. Participatory Action Research (PAR) will be used as a means of both engaging in an educational and training intervention as well as in using collaborative research and learning designs with academics in their institutional contexts. ICTs will be used in communication about the research and as a means of analysis and representation. Web-based accounts of the process and its research discourses will be used to provide an online environment for critical reflection and for the dissemination of the research to other centers and initiatives working in staff development and ICTs. Observation, interviews and iterative design methods will be included.
Significance of proposed Research:
This research will meet a real, immediate need for academics in the Humanities to develop and apply their skills and critical uses of ICTs in their teaching. A community of practice will be generated in a local context but will be extended through web-based publication of a research and developmental learning rhetorics. The workshop based approach will be used to model further interventions and ongoing support for university teachers. In time, it is hoped that the project will be extended to other South African campuses (a need already requested from the University of Cape Town) as well as dove-tailing with directions led by the Flexible Learning Group at the University of Oslo.
Mode of cooperation:
Collaboration will relate to instructional and communication design, to joint researching and to the uses of ICTs in communicating about the research. ICTs will be used extensively in local and distance exchanges between the researchers. Exchange visits and writing of papers will be essential.