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Professor Michael Danson
Professor Michael Danson

Internal News - 01 November 2005

International recognition for Bath professor

A University of Bath professor has been awarded an honorary position in one of South Africa’s prominent universities in recognition of his contribution to research in the field of biotechnology.

Professor Michael Danson, from the Department of Biology and Biochemistry, has been appointed as Extraordinary Professor at the University of the Western Cape (UWC), having developed strong links with the institution in recent years.

This summer, two postgraduate students from UWC spent a fortnight working in Professor Danson’s laboratory as part of an exchange scheme supported by the UK Royal Society and the National Research Foundation in South Africa. In November, two Bath postgraduate students will travel to Cape Town in exchange.

The scheme, which runs for two years and also involves Dr David Hough, aims to foster greater international links between researchers, whilst helping strengthen the research capacity of those institutions involved.

“The students who visited our laboratory were able to find out about the equipment and procedures we use as part of our everyday research,” said Professor Danson, who is Director of the Centre for Extremophile Research, which is based at the University of Bath.

“This will help them develop new skills and understanding that they can take back to their laboratory with them to share with their colleagues.”

UWC was first established under the Apartheid regime in 1960 as a small ethnic college for “coloured” students. Today, student numbers at UWC have grown to more than 12,000 and the college prides itself on its ongoing record in assisting educationally-disadvantaged students gain access to higher education and succeed in their studies.

Links between the University of Bath and UWC were first established when Professor Donald Cowan, Head of the Department of Biotechnology at UWC, moved there from UCL in London in 2001.

Professors Danson and Cowan are both prominent members of the extremophile research community, and have been together on expeditions to some of the harshest environments on the planet, including Hawaii, Montserrat, Iceland, Australia, New Zealand and Antarctica, to collect samples

Extremophiles are a family of micro-organisms that can live in environments of extreme heat, cold, pressure or acidity and alkalinity, and are of keen interest to the biotechnology industry because of their unique properties.