Die Suid-Afrikaanse Akademie vir Wetenskap en Kuns bestowed a Medal of Honor upon UJ Zoology Head, Prof Annemariè Oldewage, for continually excelling in the advancement and development of her profession.
Nominated by the Academy Board Trustee, Prof Kobus Eloff for the award, Prof Oldewage’s curriculum vitae was read out at a prestigious event held in Pretoria’s Atterbury Theatre where she recollected her academic journey and how much more could still be achieved.
Prof Oldewage said she was humbled by the award and acknowledged that her accolades were driven by solid team work with her colleagues at UJ and very firm support from her husband and two kids – all custodians of UJ. She also acknowledged with gratitude the sterling support from UJ management in providing funding and infrastructure.
Prof Oldewage said she loves all aspects of her work, especially her interaction with students. “I love their enthusiasm and curiosity, and it energizes me!” Every day at work, for her, is like opening a lucky packet – “anticipation followed by surprise”.
It is Prof Oldewage’s fascination with the animal kingdom that fuels her passion for Zoology. “There is a never ending supply of weird and wonderful animals out there,” she said, explaining that while most people consider only the big and furry animals, her day in the office includes the many tiny species with structures and adaptations for survival in very strange places “such as the inside of a stomach or intestine or buried in the flesh of a fish… and yet they manage to find a mate and reproduce to enable the species to survive,” she marveled.
We use these creatures as sentinels for water quality as they are able to concentrate pollutant to high concentrations and thereby provide an early warning system of potential problems.