Showcasing Graduate Research at Wits

Thursday 29 and Friday 30 October 2015

The Postgraduate Affairs Office takes pleasure in inviting postgraduate students to the 7th Wits Cross- Faculty Graduate Symposium which will take place on Thursday 29 and Friday 30 October 2015.

We invite registered Masters and PhD students from all five Faculties to attend the Symposium, submit their research for presentation and compete for the cash prizes available. Presentation can be in the form of an oral presentation or a poster. In addition, the top oral presentations and poster displays from each Faculty will be selected to give a presentation to judges in a single plenary session, vying for a top prize.

We welcome and encourage postgraduate students to volunteer as session chairpersons and registration officials. The purpose of the symposium is to give students and their supervisors the opportunity to engage in a high-level intellectual activity on the Wits Campus. This is the only time that postgraduate students will have to engage with colleagues across the five Faculties. To get the full benefit from the symposium you will need to attend as many oral and posters presentations as possible. Learning to ask questions as an audience member is a critical skill for successful intellectual engagement.

Abstract submissions for oral and poster presentations at the symposium have now closed.

Remember, to participate, your research need not be complete.

We welcome the academic community at large to register to attend and support their students.

There is no cost involved in presenting or registering for the Symposium.

We invite you to present  your research, prepare an abstract, volunteer for duties or visit as a member of the audience and experience why “Wits has the Edge.”

Please see detailed information below

Professor Mary Scholes

Ms Hildegard Chapman–¡ Tel +27 11 7171156 â–¡ Email       


The Symposium welcomes Master’s and Doctoral students to:

  • present their research
  • be rewarded for excellence
  • be stimulated by the range of postgraduate research at Wits
  • meet students in other disciplines
  • explore research synergies across disciplines
  • hone their presentation skills
  • acquaint themselves with conference procedures
  • the students should have the support of their supervisors

Please read carefully before you register


  • All Wits registered Master’s and PhD postgraduates may submit current or completed research towards their higher degree for consideration.
  • Due to space and time constraints we may not select all abstracts for the preferred presentation.

Submission of Abstractsdeadline Friday 14 August

Complete your online registration form in the drop down menu on the Symposium web page

Abstracts must be supplied together with  your online registration AND

Abstracts must be emailed as an attachment to - to facilitate the programme entries. 

Programme Entry Format

Format your abstract as follows:

  • The abstract must be written in English
  • Submit as a Microsoft Word file.
  • Typeface and format:
    • Font: Ariel Size 10
    • Spacing  Single
    • Alignment Left
  • Layout:
    • Line 1 Name of presenting author surname first - bold capitals
    • Line 2 Name(s) of Co-authors – surnames first- unbold
    • Line 3 School – unbold
    • Line 4 blank
    • Line 5 Title of Abstract – bold
    • Next Line blank
    • Next line Body of abstract (unbold)
  • The abstract is limited to 250 words excluding the author, co-author(s) and School.
  • Please use the example below to guide you

Cain James, Erasmus Barend
School of Animal, Plant and Environmental Sciences 

The role of woody canopy cover in resource selection by sable antelope (Hippotragus niger) in northern Kruger National Park  

The relationship between woody canopy cover and habitat use by sable antelope (Hippotragus niger) in Kruger National Park is poorly documented. A spatially explicit measure of habitat use (i.e., a utilization distribution) was related to dot-grid derived woody canopy cover from panchromatic aerial photographs in a geographic information system (GIS). Simple linear regression models (resource utilization functions) were used to test the relationships. Woody cover measurement played an integral role in the study. They was an inverse relationship between the two cover measures which were the dot-grid method and object-based image segmentation (OBI) (r= -252, t = -2.65, d.f. = 66). There were no significant linear relationships between woody canopy cover and habitat use by sable antelope using the dot-grid method. However, there was a significant positive linear relationship between woody canopy cover and habitat use based on the OBI in the dry season (R2=0.152, p = 0.001, d.f. = 66), and less noise. Also, there were differences in mean woody canopy cover within the dry season use areas (p<0.05, t = -1.72, d.f. = 182. Selection was more evident in the dry season. These inconclusive results appear to support the predator avoidance hypothesis. Noisiness in the data suggests that the scale chosen for the investigation was inappropriate for investigating the relationship between woody canopy cover and habitat use. An increase in the size of sampling grids, use of high resolution colour imagery, incorporation of heterogeneity, and shorter-interval home ranges are recommended in future studies.

Presentation Structures

  • There are five Faculty strands.
  • Delegates will present in Faculty specific venues to a panel of adjudicators from their Faculty.
  • Delegates will be competing for a prize within their own Faculty
  • First prize winners in each Faculty will also compete in the Cross-Faculty presentations.
  • The challenge is for presenters to make their work understandable to a diverse audience, who will be viewing the posters and attending the oral presentations, without compromising the quality of the research.

There are two presentation formats

  • Oral presentations and
  • Poster displays

Oral presentations

  • Oral presenters will be selected by Faculty reviewers according to the quality of the abstract they submit
  • Not all abstracts are selected for presentation
  • If not selected for oral presentation, some abstract submissions will be given the option of displaying a poster
  • Oral presenters are selected to participate in one of five Faculty specific sessions
  • All oral presentations take place on 29 October
  • Timing for oral presentations is 20 minutes with 15 minutes for presentation and 5 minutes for Q & A


  • Posters will be selected for display according to the quality of the abstract submitted
  • Not all poster abstracts may be selected for display 
  • Posters will be judged on 29 October
  • Posters will be selected to participate in one of five Faculty specific sessions

Cross-faculty Oral and Poster Presentations

  • The first prize winner in each Faculty in the oral presentations will vie for a top prize in the cross-faculty oral presentations on 30 October. Each delegate will have 15 minutes to present their work followed by 5 minutes Q and A
  • The first prize winner in each Faculty in the poster category will vie for a top prize in the cross-faculty poster category on 30 October. This will be the only time that students in this category will be required to present their posters.  Each delegate will have 15 minutes to present followed by 5 minutes of Q and A.

Selection process

  • Each Faculty will convene a review panel to select the abstracts for oral and poster presentations from their Faculty based on the quality of the written abstracts.
  • Each Faculty will convene a panel of judges who will judge the oral presentations and posters for the prizes.


Prizes are awarded in the following categories:

Cross-faculty oral presentations (top achievers from Faculty oral presentation):

  • 1st place – R7 000
  • 2nd place– R6 000
  • 3rd place – R5 000

Cross-faculty poster presentations (top achievers from Faculty poster presentation):

  • 1st place – R7 000
  • 2nd  place– R6 000
  • 3rd  place – R5 000

Oral presentations (Faculty specific):

  • 1st place in Faculty –R5 000
  • 2nd place in Faculty – R4 000
  • 3rd place in Faculty – R3 000 

Posters (Faculty specific):

  • 1st place in Faculty –R5 000
  • 2nd place in Faculty – R4 000
  • 3rd place in Faculty – R3 000 

Staff Attendance

It is important for the presenters to have a knowledgeable audience to see and hear their work. Staff members are encouraged to attend the oral presentations and poster displays on 29 October and to attend the Cross- Faculty presentations on 30 October.


Candidates will be asked in the registration form to volunteer as

  • Chairpersons and
  • Registration assistants

Lectures and Workshops

How to Lunchtime Lectures

Professor Mary Scholes will present the following lunch time lectures to help prepare participants.

  • Writing a Symposium Abstract (2 lectures):  26 June,  23 July
  • Making a Poster (2 lectures):  22 September, 28 September
  • How to put together and present an Oral Paper (2 lectures):  29 September, 8 October

All the above lectures will be made available on the Symposium website.

  • How to be a Chairperson: Website only

All lectures:

Venue: Senate House Basement 1, Lecture Theatre 1 (SHB1)

Time: 13.15 - 14.00

Conferencing workshop

Presented by Professor David Mycock on how to make a successful presentation at a conference
Date: 13 August
Time: 9.00 and 13.00
Venue: 4th Floor Conference Room, Wartenweiler Library between

Symposium Workshops will be held shortly before the Symposium.

Find details and booking form in the drop down menu.

Professor Mary Scholes
Hildegard Chapman
Graduate Support Division, Research Office

Rechelle Tsunke
Functions and Events


Hildegard Chapman
Graduate Support Division
Tel: +27 11 7171156