Avian Demography Unit
Department of Statistical Sciences
University of Cape Town
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Jenny Griffin
MSc student

Jenny is currently studying towards a MSc degree looking at reproductive success of African penguins (Sphensicus demersus) in relation to habitat and nest site selection, and the effects of this, together with a suite of other explanatory variables, on breeding productivity in these birds. The fieldwork for this research is being conducted at the penguin colony on Robben Island. Her supervisors are Prof. Les Underhill (ADU) and Dr. Rob Crawford (Marine and Coastal Management, South Africa).

Qualifications and experience

Jenny matriculated from Westville Girls High School, with a distinction in Biology. After completing her schooling she travelled for a year, working in London, Cornwall, and as a field assistant on a game bird farm in the English countryside, to sponsor her travels around Europe. She then returned to South Africa to run her own business, a dog grooming parlour. Since then, Jenny has completed a Diploma in Nature Conservation with Technikon SA, with distinctions in Conservation Ecology, followed by a BSc Honours degree in Zoology (Marine Biology) at the University of Cape Town, with modules in both Marine Biology and Ornithology. Her interests are primarily marine in nature - with a special passion for penguins.

One of her honours projects involved collecting blood samples from penguins that had died of avian malaria from SANCCOB to ascertain avian malaria seroprevalence using molecular genetic techniques. This project involved developing protocols for DNA extraction from penguin blood and mosquito tissue, and designing primers to use PCR techniques to amplify the gene of interest to determine if the bird was malaria positive, or the mosquito a carrier of malaria.

Jenny is currently employed as a Technical Officer in the Avian Demography Unit assisting with the administration of research finances/funds reporting and penguin monitoring. Prior to joining the ADU, Jenny worked as a research assistant for the Marine Biology Research Institute in the Zoology Department at UCT, where she assisted with financial & research administration and intertidal rocky shore monitoring.

Before joining UCT Jenny worked as Secretary/Environmental Education Co-ordinator at the Kommetjie Environmental Awareness Group, an environmental NGO based in Kommetjie on the Cape Peninsula. Here she started the KEAG Coastal Club, an environmental club for school children from Kommetjie, Ocean View and Masiphumelele schools, encouraging interaction between different cultural groups in the area, with an emphasis on environmental education, particularly the marine environment on their doorstep.

Other interests

Jenny is a member and volunteer of SANCCOB and assists with rehabilitation of oiled birds when there is a crisis, She assisted rehabilitation efforts during the Apollo Sea spill in 1994, the Cape Town Harbour spill, and the Treasure spill in 2000. She has also raised a number of orphan chicks, the latest addition being a suicidal starling chick with a gammy leg. Jenny enjoys surfing, kayaking, photography, and mountain walks in her spare time.


1. Popular articles

2. Honours thesis

  • Griffin, J. 2000. Assessing avian malaria seroprevalence in the jackass penguin (Spheniscus demersus) - A molecular approach.
  • Griffin, J. 2000. The effects of wave action on the predatory whelk, Nucella cingulata, in the rocky intertidal zone.

3. Reports

  • Griffin, J., Mann, B.A. & Crawford. R.J.M. 2000. Chub mackerel (Scomber japonicus). In Southern African Marine Linefish Status Reports. Mann, B.Q. (Ed.) Special Publication Oceanographic Research Institute 7:97-98.

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Last Modified 2-April-2002