Prof Juan Masello, the newly appointed Adjunct Professor at the Department of Biological Sciences within the Faculty of Science, Engineering and Agriculture delivered his Inaugural Lecture on Tuesday, 12 March 2024 in the Life Sciences and Chemistry Building.
Prof Masello is a prolific scientist who has published over 100 peer-reviewed papers and with an H-index of 40. He is considered a scientist of considerable international standing. Presently he is based at the University of Bielefeld in Germany, where he lives with his family. However, Prof Masello makes regular yearly visits to the University of Venda where he collaborates with the Department of Biological Sciences.
His Inaugural Lecture was a fascinating tour of his past and present research on the behaviour of birds of the Southern Hemisphere. From his talk it was clear that his work has taken him to many interesting places in some of the most remote corners of the
world. He has worked on many species of birds over his career, including the burrowing parrots of South America, the prions of the Falkland Islands and the penguins of Antarctica.
Prof Masello is focussed on the mechanisms behind why birds behave in the way they do. His work therefore comprises long periods in the field where he tracks bird movements and observes and records data. He then follows this up with long periods in the laboratory analysing the data to tease out the signatures of underlying mechanisms. He entertained the audience with fascinating stories of his research adventures, including the fact that penguins can dive down to over 200 metres below the sea, and at that depth they hunt for fish and other animals.

Prof Yoshan Moodley (left in blue and white Golf shirt)

Prof Masello is a close collaborator of Prof Yoshan Moodley in the Department of Biological Sciences and they have worked on many projects together. Prof Moodley was instrumental in bringing a population genetics dimension to the work of Prof Masello. Their long-standing collaboration has resulted in several high-profile papers, including the detection of a rare hybrid species, and further insights into the evolutionary biology of birds. In future publications, Prof Masello will include the University of Venda as one of his affiliations, further enhancing the research profile of the Department of Biological Sciences, the Faculty of Science, Engineering and Agriculture and the university itself.
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University of Venda
Tel: (015) 962 8525 /8710
Date: 12 March 2024

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