About the NSCF

The NSCF is a virtual Facility, comprised of a network of institutions that hold natural science collections that are accessible to external researchers.

The NSCF was established as part of the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI)’s Research Infrastructure Roadmap and co-ordinated by the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI).

More information about the NSCF is provided in the brochure, overview and plan documents.

NSCF Overview and Plan

An overview of the structure, purpose, principles and 3 year plan is provided here

View the Document by clicking here or on it below

NSCF Overview and Plan


Prof. Michelle Hamer

012 843 5017


Michelle is currently the Lead for the NSCF and a second project under the Department of Science & Innovation’s South African Research Infrastructure Roadmap (SARIR), the Biodiversity Biobanks South Africa.

Prior to joining SANBI in 2009 she was Associate Professor in the School of Life Sciences at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, and from 1994 to 1999 she was a curator at the KwaZulu-Natal Museum.

Michelle has researched and published on a range of fields including fairy shrimp and millipede taxonomy, and terrestrial invertebrate diversity and conservation. She co-authored an assessment of museum collections in 2001, carried out an assessment of the zoological collections as part of the NRF-commissioned assessment in 2011, and has led the development and implementation of the NSCF since 2014.

Ms Usisipho Sotshangane

Administrative Officer
012 843 5183

Usisipho graduated with a B-Tech Degree in Office Management and Technology from the Durban University of Technology and has more than 4 years’ experience in the field of Administration.

She has fallen in love with the frogs – which she was terrified of in the beginning when she joined the NSCF. She loves nature and the outdoors. If she could no longer be part of the network for whatever reason, she will live in water permanently.

Mr Shaun Pieterse

Senior Specialist: Curation and Collections Management

Shaun is a warm, friendly individual, with a penchant for learning. Shaun holds an Honours degree in Biodiversity and Conservation Biology, obtained at the University of the Western Cape, majoring in Botany and Taxonomy. He also has over ten years of experience in collections management and curation, obtained during his tenure at the SANBI’s Compton Herbarium, contributing to the development of policies, standards and workflows.

As the senior specialist for curation and collections management, Shaun coordinates collections and curation management activities across the network of partner institutions by facilitating the sharing of knowledge and experience across the network, providing guidance to staff at institutions and monitoring the status of collections management and curation.

When not working, Shaun enjoys spending time with family and friends. He also loves hiking, trying new foods and drinks and experiencing all that mother nature has to offer.

Ms Margaret Bartkowiak

Museum Specimen Photographer

Margaret has been working as a photographer since 2002. Born and educated in Pretoria, she lived and worked in London for over 5 years and there completed an HNC in Photography at South Thames College. Her main interests are in documentary photography and film work with a focus on conveying real-life stories about nature conservation, social issues and environmental education.

Before joining the NSCF, Margaret worked with various NGO’s, publishers and corporate companies in Gauteng, Cape Town and London. She also loves sushi, travelling, camping, hiking and is slightly obsessed with bird watching.

Ms Bronwynne Petersen

Data Quality Specialist

With over 10 years’ experience in working with and managing data and data systems, Bronwynne offers a unique blend of leadership, vision as well as knowledge in research, writing and plant taxonomy, which encompasses her love for data and learning of new data systems. Bronwynne has graduated from the University of the Western Cape with a Bachelors in Biodiversity and Conservation Biology and then continued to earn an honours degree in Plant Taxonomy at the University of Pretoria. She has been involved in various important taxonomic projects and data outputs working with different research scientists who specialise in different plant families.

In her spare time there is nothing that makes her happier than spending time with her husband and kids.

Ms Zinzi Sinazo Somana

Curation Technician

Zinzi Sinazo Somana was born and raised in a small rural town called Flagstaff in the Eastern Cape. She works as a Curation Technician based at the South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity (SAIAB) in Makhanda. She obtained her undergraduate and Honors degrees from Walter Sisulu University in Mthatha. Before joining the NSCF, Zinzi worked for various companies as a Marine Conservation Intern, where she gained interest for marine biodiversity, which led her to do her MSc at Rhodes University, where her research focus was on the taxonomy and systematics of marine larval fishes. When she is not at work, she enjoys hiking and taking random pictures of nature.


Ms Shanelle Ribeiro

Project Manager
012 843 5183

Shanelle has been involved in project coordination and management in the environmental sector for over 12 years, and has been part of the Foundational Biodiversity Science Directorate at SANBI for 14 years. She holds a degree in International Relations, an Honours degree in Business Administration, as well as Prince2 and Agile Practitioner certifications in project management.

As the NSCF Project Manager she is responsible for the development and implementation of various project policies and standards, management of partner collaboration agreements and service provider contracts, staff management and mentoring and budget management.

Through the NSCF project she has discovered a new found love and curiosity for all things pressed and preserved, and is always looking to expand her knowledge about the old and peculiar specimens in the collections. 

Ms Fulufhelo Tambani

Science Communication Specialist



Fulufhelo is a rural Muvenda who believes in learning from everyone she comes across and enjoys engaging with people from all walks of life. Fulufhelo obtained her Bachelor of Science Degree in Biochemistry and Microbiology at the University of Venda, completed two short courses in Science Communication at Stellenbosch University and Community Journalism at UNISA and is currently registered for the MPhil Science and Technology Studies at Stellenbosch University.

Fulufhelo joined the NSCF Hub Team on 1 July 2019. She considers her science communication career as an accidental dream come true because she had never imagine a career in Science Communication, nor did she know about it growing up.

What she loves most about her job is establishing genuine relationships with the people in the network and working towards having the value of natural science collections known and understood throughout South Africa.

Fulufhelo has experience in outreach, media liaison, social media management, science and general communication and administration, which she gained during her time with her previous employer, National Science and Technology Forum (NSTF).  

Dr Ian Engelbrecht

Data Coordinator


Ian is in the NSCF to assist museums and herbaria with digitizing their collections and mobilizing their data and specimen images online. This includes developing standards, policies, protocols and workflows as well as small software tools. He has also long been involved in museums, first working on specimen collections at Ditsong (then Transvaal) Museum during his undergraduate studies. He has an MSc in Conservation Biology from the University of the Witwatersrand and a PhD in Zoology from the University of Pretoria. He can code in Javascript, HTML/CSS, C#, R, and PHP and has worked with a range of database systems including MySQL, SQL Server, and Firebase.

His special passion though is for scorpions and mygalomorph spiders where he conducts research on diversity, systematics and distributions. 

Ms Jana Heyns

Museum Specimen Photographer

Jana‘s journey began at the top of her class, earning distinctions and accolades that propelled her into a diverse array of creative endeavors. From advertising studios to publishing, she ventured into multimedia content creation, serving varied clients and fostering inspired collaborations. Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, Jana reignited her teenage fascination with sound design, joining a start-up audiobook company as a sound engineer. In her free time, Jana creates short documentary films and experimental soundscapes, reflecting her dynamic exploration of life.

Christiaan Steenkamp

Curation Technician


Christiaan is a Curation Technician at the Natural Science Collections Facility specialising in the curation and identification of herpetofauna specimens. He has worked in various industries including conservation, tourism and risk management as an applied herpetologist. He is currently completing his masters in environmental science and aims to shed more light on the effect future climate change will have on the endemic common crag lizard.

When he seemingly has nothing to do he likes to indulge in a bit of R programming where he is developing an online analysis tool in Shiny.

Adriaan Jordaan

Curation Technician

Adriaan was born and raised in Nelspruit. Since early childhood, Adriaan has always had a keen interest in animals, especially for the less appreciated ones such as reptiles and amphibians. After finishing his primary and secondary education he went on to further his tertiary education at the University of the Free State where he obtained an undergraduate degree (B.Sc) in Environmental Geography and postgraduate degrees (B.Sc honors and M.Sc) in Zoology.
Adriaan is currently employed by the Natural Science Collections Facility (NSCF) as a herpetology curation technician. His main responsibilities in this position are the identification and databasing of reptile and amphibian specimens housed in the museum collections of the various NSCF partner institutions.

Mr Siphamandla Mceleli

Curation Technician

Siphamandla is a curation technician. He studied BSc Biological sciences and did his honors in Zoology at WSU. He has about four years of work experience in national collections and working with Specify databases.

On his spare time, he enjoys translating and transcribing scientific research work, and he also does radio presenting and event planning.

NSCF Data Technician Team:

Ms Given Leballo


Given holds a Bachelor of Science Honours in Environmental Management. Before joining the NSCF, she spent two years as a Geo-refencer for the Bio-gaps project, this is where she gained skills in working with biodiversity data. As a data technician, she is assigned to transcribing, capturing, and cleaning data from historical documents to make it digitally accessible for scientific research. She also works with various databases such as BRAHMS and SPECIFY to store and manage data.

Ms Fezile Mathenjwa


Fezile holds a Master’s Degree in Environment, Society and Sustainability from the University of Cape Town. As Biodiversity Data Technician, her role is to ensure that there is readily available good quality digital biodiversity data. She is fascinated by how reading some of the specimen records can be an exciting mystery and a challenge at the same time. For her, being part of the NSCF team is an opportunity to live through the lens of some of the most exciting evolutionary events in the wonderful World of Natural Collections. She knows she is where she should be.

Ms Ketelo Dinala


Ketelo is a highly motivated individual and always eager to learn. She holds a BSc Degree Honours in Geology from the University of Limpopo and a BSc Life and Environmental Sciences from the University of Johannesburg. She enjoys working in a group, because she always has an opportunity to pick the other team member’s brains. Working for the NSCF has opened many opportunities for her and has taught her self and work discipline, not being afraid to make mistakes, to learn faster and to improve focus.

Apart from work, she is a mother and a wife and enjoys spending quality time with family.

Ms Ayanda Mnikathi


Ayanda‘s work entails capturing type and hand written specimen labels into Brahms database and Digivol Trancribe, data quality control as well georeferencing localities on specimen labels. This position teaches a lot about the value of preserving research data. Ayanda holds a BSC. Honours Grassland Science and almost at the end of her Masters degree with the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) research looking at the application of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Remote Sensing (RS) in assessing the impacts of alien infestations on veld grazing capacity. When not devoted to work or school work, she enjoys taking her daughters out to a park or to the mall.  

Ms Maxine Manickum


Maxine holds a BSc degree Honours in Biological Science from the University of KwaZulu-Natal (Westville) and is currently pursuing her Masters degree in Botany. Before being employed by the NSCF, she worked for SANBI KwaZulu-Natal Herbarium for five years as a Project Administrator. Through her five years at the herbarium, she also data-captured, quality controlled, verified and georeferenced plant specimens on the BRAHMS database. As a Biodiversity Data Technician, her role is to Data capture and quality control plant specimens from labels, georeference localities and assist NSCF partner institutions with data cleaning and upgrading.

When she is not working, she enjoys spending time with friends and family, giving back to the community and indulging in delicious foods.