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It is a great privilege to be able to proclaim the awesome news that Doug Harebottle received the final and most important letter from UCT's Doctoral Degrees' Board today. The letter stated: "I am pleased to inform you that the Chair of the Doctoral Degrees Board (DDB) has approved your schedule of corrections. On behalf of the DDB, I congratulate you on this achievement. You will be eligible to graduate in December 2012."
Congratulations, Dr Harebottle, well done, and richly deserved. Doug's PhD thesis is entitled Assessing the conservation value of wetlands and waterbirds with a focus on the winter rainfall region of South Africa. Within the next week or so, we will get the pdf of Doug's thesis onto the ADU website. This relaxed picture of Doug was taken an at ADU "end-of-year" function. He can relax even more this long weekend.
Thanks also to Dr Tony Williams who co-supervised the research with me. Tony worked for CapeNature for many years, and a large part of the data which Doug processed consisted of waterbird counts made by the staff of CapeNature. The Tygerberg Bird Club undertook monthly counts of the Bot River estuary for several years. And another large component of the data was the regular CWAC half-yearly surveys by the ADU's large team of citizen scientists. Doug had a rich database to analyse! We are grateful to all the people who made contributions.
But data remains data until it is analysed, and the stories hidden away in the big databases can be told. This turns data into information, and this information can then be used to underpin conservation management decisions. So Doug's research forms an important link the ADU chain of activities: citizen scientists collect the data, our information systems specialists curate the data, and the final critical step is for the researchers to analyse the data, and to process it into information which is relevant to the conservation of biodiversity.