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Kate's 40 year career has significantly contributed to the fields of fluvial geomorphology, landscape connectivity, land degradation (erosional processes) and integrated catchment management within southern and eastern Africa, as a researcher, lecturer, supervisor, examiner, consultant, and thought leader.


Her work has contributed to defining and tracking changes in river systems and classifying reach and habitat types, tracing sediment, understanding impacts of land use and climate on land degradation and sediment redistribution.


Kate’s ongoing work centres on action research and active learning pedagogies. Based on her experience in areas such as the Kat River Valley, her current activities in the Tsitsa River catchment engage and facilitate communities, linking village level land care activities to catchment-wide initiatives aimed at sustainable land management and improved livelihoods.


Kate continues, as Emeritus Professor, to bestow the benefit of her experience and knowledge to the field of fluvial geomorphology by taking an active part in research and by mentoring and supporting post-graduate students and early career researchers.


Kate has been an active member of SAAG for many years, encouraging and supporting her students to do likewise. Kate is an active member of numerous societies and research groups, including:

  • British Geomorphological Research Group (BGRG)

  • South African Society of Aquatic Scientists (SASAQS)

  • Society of South African Geographers (SSAG)

  • International Association of Scientific Hydrologists (IASH)

  • International Association of Water and Sediment Science (Board member) (IASWS)

  • IUG Commission on Land Degradation and Desertification (COMLAND) (Steering Committee member)


Kate has served as Treasurer or President of some of these organisations, and she has also thrown her considerable energy into conference, workshop and field visit organisation, for example not even allowing chemotherapy to disrupt the coordination of the 2014 IASWS conference at RU.


At RU, Kate’s academic leadership roles encompassed

  • Acting Head of Department, December-February 2013, May-June 2003 and for short spells previously

  • Board Member, Institute for Water Research, 2003-2011.

  • Director, Catchment Research Group, 2000 to present

  • Member, Environmental Science advisory panel, 1998-2001

  • Chairperson, Environmental Science Steering Committee, 1997 -1998.

  • Board Member, Faculty of Science, 1991 to present

  • Board Member, Senate, 2004 to present


Kate’s substantial contributions to research are evidenced by the breadth and range of the papers (~90), books and chapters (~20) and major research reports (~20) that she has authored. Further, Kate has contributed significantly to the future of the field through her supervision of 25 MSc, 2 MA, and 10 PhD students, with a number of distinctions and medal winners amongst them.


Kate also pioneered and developed an ecostatus tool (called the Geomorphic Assessment Index or GAI) to assess the geomorphological status of a river reach and its geomorphic drivers. This tool is widely recognized and used in environmental flow work through Africa and the world. Finally, in the Karoo, Kate’s work revealed much of the sediment dynamics related to European stock farming and climatic influences. 

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