Chair in Shallow Water Ecosystems


Janine Adams


Professor Janine Adams

Faculty: Science, Institute for Coastal and Marine Research

Biosketch of Chair Professor Janine Adams

Prof Adams’ is a distinguished professor at the Nelson Mandela University, Deputy Director of the Institute for Coastal and Marine Research and holds the Department of Science and Innovation/National Research Foundation Research Chair (SARChI) for Shallow Water Ecosystems.

Her current research focusses on the conservation and management of estuaries. Ongoing research is investigating blue carbon ecosystems (salt marsh, mangroves, seagrasses) and response to climate change, and water quality management of estuaries and harmful algal blooms..

Prof Adams plays an important role in ensuring that science and knowledge of aquatic environments is communicated to managers and policymakers.

She has published over 220 articles in peer-reviewed research journals and has made a significant contribution to global knowledge on shallow-water ecosystems.  

Her work is nationally and internationally acclaimed, and she is regularly sought out as an expert on international scientific panels and symposiums.

Prof Adams has a vibrant team of over 30 researchers, and she works with a wide range of collaborators nationally and internationally from Germany, Australia, the United Kingdom, France, United States of America, and east African countries including Mozambique, Kenya and Tanzania. She is a fellow of the Royal Society of South Africa and received the silver medal from the Southern African Society of Aquatic Scientists for her contribution to research and training.

She was the Chairperson of the Water Research Commission reporting to the Minister of Water Affairs and has served on several national and international committees. She is currently senior editor of the journal Coastal Futures and Vice-Chair of the Western Indian Ocean Mangrove Network.

In 2021 she received the legends award from the Water Research Commission in recognition of her contribution as a researcher and leader that brought national and global recognition for the South African water sector.  She is passionate about research training and capacity building and has graduated 44 MSc and 24 PhD students.

Prof Adams works tirelessly to train the next generation of research scientists.  As a role model for woman scientists and with her dedication, passion and enthusiasm, she leads by example and ensures that postgraduate students have a quality education through exposure to diverse opportunities.

Relevance of research

Water is a scare commodity in southern Africa, where many aquatic ecosystems are currently on a trajectory of rapid deterioration. The sustainable use of our water resources requires that adaptive management structures are continuously provided with scientific knowledge on the processes that govern shallow water ecosystems and their health.  Research projects are aligned with the transformative vision of the UN Decade for Ecosystem Restoration and the UN Decade of Ocean Science (2021-2030).

Current research interests

Shallow water ecosystems, particularly estuaries, with a focus on:

  • Conservation and management of estuaries
    • including environmental flow requirements, ecological health & importance indices
  • Blue carbon ecosystems and responses to climate change
    • Salt marsh, mangroves, seagrasses
  • Estuary restoration
  • Water quality management and harmful algal blooms