Principal Investigators

Lynne Shannon (UCT)

Professor Lynne Shannon is a Fisheries Scientist specialising in ecosystem-based management, with expertise in ecosystem modelling and the use of ecological indicators as a means of addressing ecosystem considerations in exploited marine ecosystems.

Lynne has twenty-three years’ experience undertaking ecological research and modelling to contribute to ecosystem-based management, and eighteen years of postgraduate student supervision. She has constructed trophic models in the Benguela to provide an understanding of structure and functioning and changes in the marine food webs. Her work aims to facilitate pragmatic ways in which ecosystem considerations might be incorporated into fisheries management, especially the use of ecological indicators.

Lynne is a Co-ordinating Lead Author of the Transformative Change Assessment currently underway by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). She has published over 150 papers (around a quarter of these are first authored) in peer-reviewed journals, has presented over 30 first-authored papers at scientific meetings/conferences, and is a highly rated researcher of the South African National Research Foundation.

Louise Gammage (UCT)

Dr Louise Gammage is an environmental geographer specialising in marine sustainability. She works in inter-and transdisciplinary contexts and is interested in developing transformative methodologies and tools to promote system-based governance.

Her current research focuses on marine social-ecological systems (SESs) and fisheries in South Africa, working collaboratively with research partners in South Africa, the EU and USA. Louise’s research interests include exploring innovative methodologies to address challenges related to scale and decision-making in complex adaptive systems; understanding drivers of change in SESs to improve present and future decision-making; and exploring ways for local stakeholders (such as fishers) to build capacity to enhance well-being, while informing governance and policy at the larger decision-making scales. She is experienced in semi-quantitative modelling techniques (such as cognitive causal mapping and Bayesian network modelling), qualitative and quantitative data collection and analysis, designing and leading interviews and surveys (including fieldwork), group facilitation and scenario planning.

She is presently a research fellow at the University of Cape Town with the Marine Ecology & Fisheries Research Group (Department of Biological Sciences) and the Marine and Antarctic Research centre for Innovation and Sustainability (MARIS) and is the co-principal investigator for the Ecosystem-based adaptive capacity through community engagement (Eco-ACE)

Kelly Ortega-Cisneros (UCT)

Dr Kelly Ortega is a biologist, specializing in ecological research and modelling to investigate the functioning and management of marine ecosystems.

Kelly is a research fellow at the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Cape Town in South Africa. She is also the co-principal investigator for the Ecosystem-based adaptive capacity through community engagement (Eco-ACE).

Kelly obtained her PhD. at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa in 2014 where she evaluated the influence of changes in rainfall and river inflow on the structure and functioning of selected estuaries on the east coast of South Africa. Her current research focuses on the use of different ecosystem modelling frameworks to investigate the functioning and management of marine ecosystems. Her research interests also include the influence of environmental variability and climate change on marine ecosystems, and the vulnerability and adaptive capacity of species and ecosystems to climate change.


Mafa Hara (UWC)

Coming soon

Astrid Jarre (UCT)

Coming soon

Nina Rivers (NMU)

Dr Nina Rivers is a marine anthropologist with a research interest in knowledge integration in ocean governance.

She is currently a postdoctoral research fellow with the Institute for Coastal and Marine Research (CMR) and the Department of Development Studies at Nelson Mandela University, South Africa where she is investigating how to develop a truly collaborative and inclusive marine spatial plan (MSP) for Algoa Bay on the eastern coast of South Africa.

Her research interests include knowledge integration, especially Indigenous and local knowledge, in ocean and coastal governance as well as stakeholder engagement processes in area-based ocean management approaches such as marine spatial planning. She has also consulted on jobs developing marine spatial plans for countries in the broader Western Indian Ocean Region.

Students and staff

Annastacia Mpala (PDRF)

Dr Annastacia Mpala is a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Cape Town and has a background in Environmental Science, Sustainability Science and Geographical Information Systems. She completed her Ph.D. studies in 2021 at the University of Witwatersrand.

Her Ph.D. research looked at the perspectives of adaptation to drought and water scarcity of small-scale farmers in Masvingo, Zimbabwe. Her study investigated the interlinkages between climate change and water security. Of particular interest was to understand how their combinations impact the food security of rural farming households and how these households use various asset portfolios available to them to build their adaptive capacity and resilience against climate change and water insecurity. Her personal and research interests are climate change, adaptive capacity, gender, resilience, livelihoods, and vulnerability studies. Her research and publications are geared towards developing adaptation frameworks that tackle complex environmental and societal issues to integrate input from various communities of knowledge and ensure that all actors related to the problem are incorporated, meeting the Sustainable Development Goals.

Her post-doc research is on facilitating and coordinating the co-design of interventions and tools for community-level adaptation to global change of three coastal communities selected for Eco-ACE: St. Helena Bay and Melkhoutfontein; Western Cape and Bluewater Bay, Eastern Cape. Annastacia holds an MPhil degree in Integrated Water Management from Monash University and a degree in Geography and International Relations. She is a member of the International Water Security Network under the University of Bristol and a member of the Water Institute of Southern Africa.

Oko Shotsongayeo

Ms Oko Shotsongayeo is a PhD candidate at the University of Cape Town.

Oko Sotshongaye is a PhD researcher at the Department of Biological sciences at the University of Cape Town. Her PhD project is trying to aid governance by exploring how to build capacity with decision makers, beyond the communities with a specific focus on the use of science engagement as a tool in a formal governance structure.

Her personal and research interests include climate change, fisheries, marine ecology, conservation, and environmental education. Oko holds a master’s degree in Marine biology, on the topic “larval fish dynamics within the coastal nearshore of the Eastern Cape, South Africa”.

Oko Sotshongaye

Natalie le Roux

Natalie le Roux is a Master’s student at the University of Cape Town.

Natalie is reading for her master’s degree in Biological Science at UCT, specialising in marine ecology and fisheries. She completed her undergraduate and honours degrees at Rhodes University with majors in Ichthyology, Fisheries Science, and Environmental Science.

Natalie’s master’s thesis focuses on small-scale fishing communities and how research can improve their adaptive capacity. Her research interests also include climate change and modelling. She enjoys working with people and will take any chance to chat about exciting discoveries in her field.

Natalie le Roux