AnushaDr Anusha Rajkaran is an Estuarine Ecologist with an interest in submerged and emergent macrophytes such as mangrove forests, saltmarsh and seagrass. She received her PhD in Botany in 2011 from Nelson Mandela University and was appointed as a Lecturer in the Department of Botany at Rhodes University later that year. Anusha joined the Department of Biodiversity and Conservation Biology at the University of the Western Cape as a Senior Lecturer in 2015/16. Her current research focuses on the health, functioning, and distribution of submerged and emergent macrophytes. Estuaries lie at the interface between the land and the sea. There are approximately 290 estuaries in South Africa classified into 9 different types. These estuaries and the plant habitats within them provide a wide range of ecosystem goods and services from which we benefit. These services include carbon sequestration, storm protection, nursery and refugia for fish, invertebrate and birds, water purification and provide goods such as wood and food. Understanding and ensuring the health of these habitats ensures the health of the human communities around them. Anusha’s research group is currently working in estuaries around the country. On the east coast we focus on measuring heavy metals, microplastics and forest structure of mangroves – the rarest forest type in South Africa. The group hopes to develop an index to characterise the health of these forests. Along the south coast we have investigated how animals use different plant habitats in order to identify and prioritise the nursery habitats of fish species. On the west coast, we have determined how resilient saltmarsh is to disturbances and will measure carbon stocks at the Berg River Estuary. In the Cape Metropole and across the country we will be expanding our microplastics research by looking at the presence of these particles across habitats and food webs with the aim of identifying the sinks of microplastics in estuarine environments. Dr Rajkaran has authored and co-authored 32 scientific articles, 4 book chapters and presented at 18 national and international conferences. Her current research group is made up of 1 honours student, 12 MSc students and 3 PhD students.