Yusra Samsodien

BSc (Hons) in Biodiversity and Conservation Biology, University of the Western Cape

Yusra's BSc (Hons) research project focused on the identification of lion’s mane jellyfish specimens using both morphological and molecular analyses. The project fuelled Yusra’s interest in research and led her to decide to pursue a Master’s degree.

Giving a presentation on corvids as part of a course module in her honours year increased her interest in birds. Having spent time at the Cape Flats Nature Reserve, she had developed a deeper love for nature. Her volunteer work as a lab assistant and her participation in community programmes was a result of her passion to have a positive impact on society.

In 2023, Yusra was awarded a scholarship from the Joan Wrench Kirstenbosch Scholarship Fund through SANBI to pursue a Master’s degree at the Fitzpatrick Institute of African Ornithology. For her dissertation, Yusra will focus on the native invader Pied Crow, examining the drivers of the expansion of these birds in the Western Cape fynbos using citizen science data from the South African Bird Atlas Project 2. Further, she will explore the ecological benefits provided by Pied Crows through their role as scavengers and potentially seed dispersers, as well as their negative impacts on biodiversity.

Yusra is supervised by A/Prof. Robert Thomson, A/Prof. Arjun Amar, and Fitz Honorary Research Associate Dr Colleen Seymour (SANBI).