Dr. Michelle North

Portrait Michele North

Postdoctoral Research Fellow University of KwaZulu-Natal
South Africa

Michelle North is a veterinarian with a strong interest in ecosystem health, ‘One Health’, ecotoxicology, and multi/interdisciplinary problem solving. After completing her veterinary studies at the University of Pretoria, South Africa, she went on to obtain a doctorate on the effects of urban air pollution on wild birds from the University of Calgary, in Canada. She is currently a Postdoctoral Researcher at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, investigating the state of climate science in Africa and providing academic support to the Durban office of the IPCC Working Group II TSU.

Climate change expertise and interests

I have been fortunate to be closely aligned with the IPCC Working Group II’s Durban branch of its Technical Support Unit since 2018, and thus, have reviewed various drafts of the reports, assisted at lead author meetings, and contributed to the regional chapter on Africa as both volunteer chapter scientist and contributing author. These opportunities have stretched my capacities to the limit and have proven invaluable for giving me a wide view of different disciplines involved in the climate change arena. I would not say that I am a climate expert—not at all! But I have an interest in it, a desire to fill the significant knowledge gaps that exist for Africa, and a desperation that the world makes the right choices, and SOON. I will do what I can to support these choices, and hope my work as part of this programme helps in some small way.

Publications (most recent)

North, M. A., Kinniburgh, D. W., & Smits, J. E. G. (2018). Enclosure design for flock-level, chronic exposure of birds to air contaminant mixtures. Toxicology Mechanisms and Methods.

North, M. A., Kinniburgh, D. W., & Smits, J. E. G. (2017). European Starlings (Sturnus vulgaris) As Sentinels of Urban Air Pollution: A Comprehensive Approach from Noninvasive to Post Mortem Investigation. Environmental Science and Technology.

North, M. A., Rodriguez-Estival, J., & Smits, J. E. G. (2017). Biomarker Sensitivity to Vehicle Exhaust in Experimentally Exposed European Starlings. Environmental Science and Technology.

Professional career interests

To be a researcher (not a teacher), to make a difference over the long term, provide information to support appropriate decisions and policy changes. I’m not sure how possible it is to be a researcher in Africa, since most universities prioritize teaching over research, but it is worth aspiring towards.

I participate at climapAfrica because...

I finally found a project I truly believe in, that matches my diverse patchwork quilt of expertise, and that funding gods also believe in! This is such an exciting opportunity and I am very grateful for both the financial support as well as the chance for mentorship—something very hard to come by in normal institutions, where either the best academics (leaders) are overworked and unavailable, or they are elsewhere in the country/world, and you don’t have the opportunity to meet them.