The South African Genetics Society (SAGS) and the South African Society for Bioinformatics (SASBi) cordially invite you to their 2018 joint Congress.

Please save the date of Tuesday 16th – Thursday 18th October 2018


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Confirmed speakers

Prof. Hervé Vanderschuren

Prof. Hervé Vanderschuren holds a BSc in Agricultural Sciences from the University of Liège (Belgium) and two MSc, one in Plant Genetics and Breeding from AgroParisTech (France) and one in Crop Protection from the University of Liège. He obtained his PhD in Plant Biotechnology from ETH Zurich (Switzerland).
Prof. Vanderschuren has led a research team focusing on crop biotechnology at ETH Zurich and was appointed as Professor of Plant Genetics at University of Liège (Gembloux Agro BioTech, Belgium) in 2014. Over the last 12 years, his research activities have been focused on the study of crop responses to biotic and abiotic stresses as well as on the implementation of tools to improve root and tuber crops (i.e. potato, cassava, chicory) and rice. Several cassava and rice accessions with increased disease resistance, improved nutritional quality and prolonged shelf life traits have been developed by his team.
He has led and participated in over 15 research projects in collaboration with several international institutions including CAS Shanghai, UC Berkeley, Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, University of Bath, UC Los Angeles, University of Geneva and University of Basel, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS), University of Witwatersrand. His team also has a large network of collaboration in tropical and sub-tropical regions, including Nigeria (NRCRI and IITA Ibadan), India (CTCRI and TNAU), Tanzania (MARI and IITA Das es Salaam), Kenya (MMUST, KALRO and IITA Nairobi), Brazil (Federal University of Fortaleza), Rwanda (RAB and UR), Colombia (Universidad de Los Andes and CIAT), Indonesia (LIPI).

Dr Frank E. Zachos

Natural History Museum Vienna, Mammal Collection, Vienna, Austria, and Department of Integrative Zoology, University of Vienna, Austria

Frank E. Zachos is an evolutionary zoologist and head of the Mammal Collection at the Natural History Museum in Vienna. He is also an associated lecturer at the University of Vienna, where he gives an annual lecture on conservation genetics. His interests range from mammalian and avian biodiversity, population genetics and phylogeography to systematics, taxonomy, species concepts and conservation. Most of his zoological work deals with ungulates, in particular red deer and other cervids. He is editor-in-chief of the journal Mammalian Biology, series editor of the mammal volumes of the Handbook of Zoology and co-editor of a book on Biodiversity Hotspots as well as of the upcoming Handbook of the Mammals of Europe. He has recently also published a book on Species Concepts in Biology and has a strong interest in the impact of taxonomic concepts and practice on conservation biology, which will also be a topic of the keynote lecture. He is convinced that taxonomy at and around the species level is as fuzzy as nature’s boundaries themselves, and that this must be accounted for in conservation biology – by focusing not just on taxonomic names but also on the underlying data that these names are ultimately based on.

Prof. Jill Wegrzyn

Jill Wegrzyn, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at University of Connecticut where she leads the Plant Computational Genomics Lab. She is also the Director of the Computational Biology Core within the Institute for Systems Genomics.  Her work focuses on the computational analysis of genomic and transcriptomic sequences from non-model plant species. She develops approaches to examine gene finding, gene expression, transcriptome assembly, and conserved element identification, through machine learning and computational statistics. Her recent efforts have focused on the annotation of complex conifer genomes with deep learning frameworks.  She applies her team’s software and frameworks to questions related to genome biology and population genomics.  Jill also develops web-based applications that integrate data across diverse domains to facilitate the plant geneticist or ecologist’s ability to analyze, share, and visualize their data.  Jill leads the TreeGenes Database, which represents an integrated genomic and phenomic community resource with analytic capacity for nearly 2000 forest tree species. Integration with other repositories and analytic frameworks has enabled her team to develop semantic technologies to connect genotype, phenotype, and environmental data for georeferenced plants.


The conference is jointly organised by the executive committees of the South African Society for Bioinformatics and the South African Genetics Society.


Golden Gate Resort, Free State (

Accommodation & Prices

Accommodation at the Golden Gate Conference Center

Delegates are requested to book their own accommodation. The following links will help:

  • Glen Reenen Rest Camp, which is walking distance (1.3 km) from the conference venue, offers attractive prices and several different types of accommodation.
  • Clarens is a short drive from the conference venue and offers a wide array of accommodation, which is advertised on the website for this beautiful little town:
  • also lists a wide range of accommodation at a range of prices:
  • Several options for accommodation are available in Clarence via Airbnb.

Call for abstracts


Register to attend



The delegate registration form is available at:

Registration costs are as follows:

  • R 1500 for a student attending either SASBi (16 – 17 Oct 2018) or SAGS (17 – 18 Oct 2018)
  • R 1700 for a student attending both SASBi and SAGS (16 – 18 Oct 2018)
  • R 1700 for a non-student attending either SASBi (16 – 17 Oct 2018) or SAGS (17 – 18 Oct 2018)
  • R 1900 for a non-student attending both SASBi and SAGS (16 – 18 Oct 2018)

Registration costs include:

  • The conference dinner on Wednesday 17 Oct 2018
  • Two years of society membership for SASBi and/or SAGS, depending on registration choice

Directions to Golden Gate

Please view the PDF file (Golden_Gate_Directions) for driving directions to the Golden Gate National Park and hotel.

Contact Information

Please contact Dr Albé van der Merwe (SAGS Executive: Communications) at albe.vdmerwe [at] for any queries.