National Zoological Gardens 2018 MSc Bursaries: Conservation Genetics / Forensics / Epidemiology

The Centre for Conservation Science at the National Zoological Gardens of South Africa (NZG) is offering four MSc bursaries to four enthusiastic students with strong interests in Wildlife Conservation Genetics, Forensics and Epidemiology. Four projects are offered: MSc Bursaries x 4: Conservation Genetics / Forensics / Epidemiology (2018-2019). The subjects candidates will be based at the National Zoo in Pretoria and will receive an annual stipend of R60 000.


The candidate must be a South African citizen and hold a Hons/BTech degree in the relevant discipline and have research experience in molecular biology, genetics, bioinformatics, epidemiology or related field.

Project 1:

A major focus of conservation genetics is the evolutionary consequences of loss of genetic diversity in a population. Loss of heterozygosity can result in an increased probability of homozygosity of deleterious recessive alleles resulting in a limited potential for the species to adapt to changing environments. The project will focus on the analysis of immune loci in endangered frog species to complement research based on neutral markers.

Project 2:

Single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) markers are the method of choice for genetic analyses. SNPs have several advantages including; their ease of analysis, increased sensitivity, ability to be used to match samples and determine relatedness. This project will focus on the validation of a SNP assay panel for genetic analysis and relatedness in felids.

Project 3:

The aim of this study will be to improve the ability and quality of genetic analysis protocols for the accurate identification of species, and different populations in the prosecution of wildlife crime. A combination of molecular markers will be selected based on species specific genome and published data obtained from various population studies on two antelope species (kudu Tragelaphus strepsiceros and bushbuck Tragelaphus scriptus) that are currently priorities in forensic cases. This will involve the identification and testing of alternative fragments of the genome including nuclear DNA (SNPs and Microsatellites).

Project 4:

There is a lack of research regarding the molecular epidemiology of infectious diseases in wildlife with no accurate diagnostic tests available for detection of infectious diseases. This project will focus on the development of accurate, reliable and reproducible molecular diagnostic tests and investigating molecular epidemiology of selected wildlife.

The NZG will assist the students with finding an appropriate co-supervisor at a South African University and will nominate a NZG supervisor. The students will be expected to register with a University by the end of January 2018.

Duration: January 2018 to December 2019

Bursary information: A student stipend of R60 000 per annum will be awarded to the successful applicant and will be renewable in the second year of study on condition of good progress.

How to apply?

Interested candidates are requested to send applications (motivation letter, full CV) to be forwarded to the email address below. A full academic transcript showing all qualifications must be included in your application. Applicants must provide the full names and contact details of at least three referees. Short-listed candidates who are invited for the interview will be expected to demonstrate proof of the above requirements. A skills test may be conducted as part of the selection process.

Applications should be forwarded to: HR PRACTITIONER; Email:; Subject line: MSc Bursaries: Conservation Genetics / Forensics / Epidemiology

Enquiries can be directed to Prof Desire Dalton / Dr Monica Mwale / Dr Essa Suleman on +27 12 328 3265. For more information kindly log on to:

CLOSING DATE: 26 January 2018, 16h00

Candidates are expected to be available for selection interviews on a data and time as determined by the NZG. If no response has been received within 60 days of the closing date, candidates may consider their applications unsuccessful. The National Zoological Gardens of South Africa is committed to employment equity and redress. The NZG reserves the right not to fill this position. Candidates that previously applied for these Bursaries are encouraged to reapply.

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