Who We Are

For profiles of our student researchers and interns, see here.

For profiles of Gobabeb's Research Associates, see here.

To contact Gobabeb staff, visit our Contact page, here.

Gillian Maggs-Kölling. Executive Director

As Executive Director, Gillian Maggs-Kölling defines the strategic vision for Gobabeb and leads all aspects of the institute’s operations.

This includes planning, resourcing, fund-raising, marketing and stakeholder outreach, as well as forging links with both existing and potential research partners.

Her most fulfilling role is enabling the development of young Namibian scientists.

Gillian has long experience in managing research systems in the public sector in Namibia.

Her vision for Gobabeb is to grow the Institute’s reach and impact as a strategic centre for desert research.

She is a passionate plant person, particularly for indigenous cucurbits like the !nara (Acanthosicyos horridus).

She is becoming increasingly fascinated by the dynamic and diverse research disciplines associated with Gobabeb.

Eugene Marais. Research Manager


Eugene Marais coordinates and manages Gobabeb's research programmes. He identifies and guides Gobabeb’s long-term research programmes with international research associates.

He also develops and supervises short-term research projects for students at all educational levels, fostering their professional growth.

Eugene trained and worked as a geologist and entomologist, specialising in evolutionary biology, insect biodiversity and palaeoenvironmental assessments.

He has been doing research throughout Namibia since 1986 and has extensive knowledge and experience of the diversity and ecology of the different terrestrial environments in the country.


Sharon Bezuidenhout. Office Manager


With my passion for people and nature, I engaged in the tourism and hospitality industry more than 26 years ago. Over the years, I’ve gained work experience in a variety of hospitality properties, including several years in a 5-star international hotel. There, I cultivated a desire to create memorable experiences and guest satisfaction for each and every person. I will bring that attitude to ensure special care of Gobabeb's visiting scientists, staff, students, interns, school groups or anybody who visits this remarkable place.  

Social upliftment and training is also part of my passion.  I encourage and motivate training as part of my duties as Gobabeb's Office Manager, which I have taken up since the beginning of September 2021.

Gobabeb is a extraordinary place and my mission is to get more exposure for the Institute for funding, and to establish Gobabeb as a must “experience” on anyone's itinerary for years to come. 

My motto is ”Going the extra mile with a smile”

Hope to make your acquaintance soon!

Desmond Erasmus. Maintenance Supervisor


Born and bred in Tsumeb, my life experiences and career opportunities have taken me across Namibia and South Africa, providing me with a unique set of skills including working across multi-cultural and socio-economic groups.

I have extensive expertise in hospitality, guiding, hunting, farming, construction and maintenance. I have required certificates from the field guide association of South Africa, Ezemvelo wildlife VPDA certification as trail guide. I am qualified to take groups on horseback into wilderness areas, and elephant tracking by vehicle. I am a keen rock and surf fisherman and was awarded colours.

The desert has always fascinated me as to how creatures can survive out there, and I always wished for an opportunity to work in such an environment. Here I am, so let’s explore!

Elna Irish. Emeritus Office Manager


For several years, Elna Irish has faithfully managed the administration of operations at Gobabeb.

These duties included general office management and administrative support for all aspects of Gobabeab’s operations.

Elna was also engaged with general procurement, Human Resources and daily financial matters.

With Leena Kapulwa, Elna managed hospitality and tourism related responsibilities, to ensure tourists, visiting researchers, and student groups are well-accommodated while they are at Gobabeb.

In September 2021, Elna left Gobabeb to pursue her other interests, including spending more time with her husband and dog at her home in Windhoek.

We wish her well.


Leena Kapulwa. Receptionist


Leena Kapulwa is Gobabeb's first point of contact for anyone wanting to visit or work at Gobabeb.

Leena first came to Gobabeb in December 2016 as an intern in managing hospitality and accommodation.

She’s now employed as Gobabeb's Receptionist.

She helps visitors arrange reservations for accommodation, and assists in coordinating schedules and accommodation for students, researchers and visitors.

She soon plans to study for a tourism diploma. She grew up in Oniipa, in the northern part of Namibia.


Ileni Hiwilepo. Accountant


Ileni Hiwilepo is the accountant for Gobabeb-Namib Research Institute.

She has been in this position since 2016.

Her duties include maintaining, analysing and recording financial transactions, preparing for Gobabeb's annual audit, and preparing Donor Reports.

She has more than 15 years of experience in accounting and enjoys the challenges that come along with this job.