Dr Alanna Jane REBELO, PhD in Biology (South Africa)

Alanna’s research focus is on ecosystem services provided by wetlands, using a combination of applied remote sensing techniques, field measurements, and hydrological modelling. She is currently involved in research into the hydrological benefits of investing in ecological infrastructure, including alien clearing from mountain catchments, and wetland rehabilitation and revegetation.

Current position: Postdoctoral Researcher in the Conservation Ecology & Entomology Department at Stellenbosch University, South Africa

Research focus: ecosystem services, valley-bottom wetlands, ecohydrology, remote sensing applications

Alanna’s interest in nature and sustainability has led to her being awarded the Green Talents Award and the GreenMatter Fellowship (South Africa). A wetland ecologist by training, Alanna is a member of the International Society for Wetland Scientists as well as a member of the local South African Wetlands Society, the Freshwater Ecosystem Network, and her local wetland forum is also part of the RoseAct NGO in Alexandra Township, Johannesburg.

2019 Winner of the Bronze Award for the best botanical PhD in South Africa
2018 Recipient of one of the Vice-Rector Top 20 Awards for postdoctoral researchers
2018 ConsoliDoc Award (Stellenbosch University)
2014-2016 Erasmus Mundus Grant (European Commission)
2014 Awarded EUROSA Scholarship to pursue her doctoral studies in Belgium
2013 Awarded GreenMatter fellowship for research in sustainability, South Africa


CV as submitted for the Green Talents award (2011):

Stellenbosch University, South Africa

Research focus: conservation ecology

Ms Rebelo, who was awarded a class medal for her work on inland water systems, wants to use her research to encourage sustainable agriculture and improve water security via appropriate land use and the removal of invasive alien plants.

Alanna Rebelo believes that interdisciplinary research in science and technology is the best hope for improving the efficiency of global resource use, most importantly that of energy and water. Towards that end, she is combining several disciplines as part of her graduate-level studies. These include hydrology, ecology and sociology, and she is collaborating with economists. She is investigating the impact of land-use change on the flow of ecosystem goods and services in a master's thesis entitled "Hydrological Benefits of Restoration for the Delivery of Ecosystem Services".

The young scientist is an ambassador for an initiative of the Dutch government called "Living Lands", which aims to make research applicable by establishing markets for payments for ecosystem services in catchments. Her project was funded by the Water Research Commission of South Africa, and she was selected to present her research findings at the International Association of Landscape Ecology Conference in Beijing, China, in August.

Ms Rebelo's application impressed the jury because of her interdisciplinary approach to addressing sustainability challenges such as conservation of biodiversity while increasing capacities for human development, for example in agriculture. The jury said she "walks the talk" by contributing to a better environment for a better society. Jury member Professor Klaus Töpfer said, "I congratulate the organisers of the 'Green Talents'-Programme for such outstanding, highly promising young awardees."

Ms Rebelo, who plans to continue her studies at the doctoral level in 2012, is looking forward to her stay in Germany so that she can become more familiar with the country's network of organisations focused on sustainability. "The tours of companies and institutions that have been highlighted for their 'best practices' in sustainability will give me a unique opportunity to bring ideas, innovations and inspiration back to my country and strengthen collaborative ties with overseas institutions for my PhD studies," she said.