Philile Mvula

Philile Mvula, is a Marine Biology, Master of Science student at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. In addition to her research she has also been an NRF intern at the University of Kwa-Zulu-Natal where she worked on bioacoustics, estuarine hydrodynamics, marine pollution and fish health. Her Masters research is on ecological research on the intertidal rocky shores of KwaZulu-Natal based on a previous study of biodiversity patterns conducted in the late 1990s. With the increase in population of the coastal communities since then, there has been an ever increasing pressure on the intertidal resources which has led to changes in the structure of the rocky shore biodiversity. To characterise changes that have occurred over the past 20 years, she conducted repeat surveys using  two different sampling protocols: the first method was an identical sampling protocol to the one used in the 1990s study and involved quantifying of invertebrates in situ, while the other employed analysis of photographic quadrats ex situ as her study to evaluate the most suitable sampling protocol for a future monitoring programme tailored to the KwaZulu-Natal coastline

What accomplishment are you most proud of?

I am proud to have had the opportunity to present at the 11th Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Association (WIOMSA) Scientific Symposium which was my first international conference.

Who has inspired you in your career?

I am inspired by my supervisors, they have excelled in both an academic institution and the public sector, they show me the different ways one can be a scientist and effect change. I am also inspired by my peers who have excelled in their academics, they show me that anything can be achieved when I dedicate myself to it.

What is your dream research project? Where would you work and with whom?

As I’ve worked on the rocky shores of KwaZulu-Natal my dream project would be to expand my research on rocky shores to the rest of the South African coastline and formulate region-specific monitoring protocols. I would love to work with the Department of Environment, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries as well as with prof G.M. Branch

Where do you see yourself in 15 years?

I see myself as a senior ecologist advocating for the protection of the nearshore marine environment in South Africa and other developing countries.

What secret talent do you have?

I’m great at cooking.

What do you miss most about the pre-Covid19 world? 

I miss my visits to the beach, spending time with my friends on-campus and aerobics classes.

What is your quote to live by?

“The environment is in us, not outside of us. The trees are our lungs, the rivers our bloodstream. We are all interconnected, and what you do to the environment ultimately you do to yourself.”

Ian Somerhalder
Philile’s favourite study site: Black Rock is a prominent rock formation on the point of a bay situated on the Maputaland Coast close to Kosi Bay. It is a pristine and untouched beach. She loves this site because it is a site that is protected by the park authority as well as the local community due to its cultural significance.
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