Doctoral student
Tash Vogt
I am a PhD student doing environmental toxicology with focus on organic pollutants in aquatic systems. Using chemical analysis like gas-chromatography (GC) and liquid-chromatography (LC) to determine presence and concentrations of these compounds in sediment and organisms. Possible detrimental effects can be quantified by using a range of biomarkers, and genetically modified cells (H4IIEs). I am also working on a sideline project where we are setting up to do analysis for anti-retrovirals in water, using LC.
Doctoral student
Suranie Horn
Suranie has a Microbiological background and completed a Master’s degree about the effects of bacteria from drinking water on a human intestinal celline. She is currently a PhD student in eco-toxicology. Her project entails to investigate the endocrine disrupting effects and mechanisms of action that mixtures of Cry proteins and herbicides–glyphosate and 2,4-D–might have, using different in vitro methods including receptor-based assays, comet assay, steroidogenesis. Another component includes determining levels of these compounds in water and soil sampled from local farms. For the duration of her degree she is combining her studies with other commitments, collaboration and training of students for several projects related to tissue culture work.
 
Doctoral student
Ilse Coetzee
Ilse Coetzee is a PhD student within the WRG. The aim of her study is to determine toxicity towards bacteria in soil and water as well as the gut microbes. An increasing number of nano-materials as antimicrobials have been introduced over years. These nano-materials end up in the environment and is a cause for concern. A lack of research have been done on the effect of nano-materials towards environment health.  
Doctoral student
Michelle van As
 
Michelle van As started her PhD in 2013 under supervision of Prof. Nico Smit. This study involves the collaboration of the North-West University and the University of the Free State and covers multidisciplinary angles on leopard research in South Africa. This cross-discipline study will concentrate on determining the health of free-ranging and captive leopards in South Africa, a topic as of yet left mostly untouched by science. This will be achieved by investigating integration of metabolomic and genetic characteristics with parasitic loads and ex-situ management practices of leopards in South Africa. This knowledge can aid greatly to devising a holistic leopard conservation approach.
Doctoral student
Nico Wolmarans
Nicolaas J. Wolmarans is a candidate for a Sandwich PhD between the North-West University in South Africa and The University of Antwerp in Belgium funded by the VLIR-UOS. He started his PhD in 2016 under supervision of Prof. Victor Wepener (NWU), Prof. Lieven Bervoets (Uantwerp), and Prof. Patrick Meire (Uantwerp), and aims to complete his degree by 2018. His PhD thesis is an ecological risk assessment of the Phongolo River floodplain which comprises of an ecosystem services assessment alongside a biodiversity risk assessment of the area. His main area of focus is amphibian ecotoxicology specializing in chemical bioaccumulation and biochemical responses of organochlorine pesticides. As part of his thesis he is currently investigating the sub-lethal effects of Malaria vector control pesticides on frogs from the Phongolo River floodplain. He is also involved in several projects concerning the analysis of organochlorine pesticide concentrations in fish tissue, bird feathers and leopard blood.
 
Doctoral student
Lizaan de Necker
Lizaan de Necker is a PhD student at the Water Research Group. She completed her Undergraduate, Honours and Master’s degrees in Zoology and Aquatic Health at the University of Johannesburg and joined the WRG at the beginning of 2016. She is currently registered for a PhD in Environmental Sciences under the supervision of Prof Nico Smit and co-supervision of Prof Luc Brendonck (KU Leuven) and Prof Johan van Vuren. Her project forms part of the larger collaborative project with KU Leuven in Belgium. Her study focus is the ecology and biodiversity of fish and aquatic invertebrates of freshwater wetland ecosystems of the Phongolo River and Floodplain in Northern KwaZulu-Natal. She will also be making use of Stable Isotope Analyses to determine the food web structures of these wetlands, which is the first study of its kind in South Africa. For more information about Lizaan, her research and publications please visit her ResearchGate profile:
 
Doctoral student
Edward C. Netherlands
Edward Netherlands is a sandwich PhD. student, under the supervision of Professor Nico Smit and Louis du Preez at NWU, South Africa and Professor Luc Brendonk and Dr. Maarten Vanhove at KU Leuven, Belgium. The PhD. forms part of the VLIROUS program for the Development of tools for sustainable utilization and management of aquatic resources in South Africa. Case study: the Lower Phongola River and floodplain. The aims of his PhD. project is to document amphibian blood parasite species diversity; provide a genetic and evolutionary perspective of these parasites; and provide a template for future ecological studies in terms of host, vector and parasite relationships. Current research projects include a national collaboration with the University of the Free State, researching the taxonomy and phylogeny of neglected and new apicomplexans of reptiles, and an intradepartmental collaboration with the African Amphibian Conservation Research Group, describing novel species of herpatofaunal apicomplexans respectively with the use of both morphological and molecular tools.
 
Doctoral student
Anrich Kock

Anrich is currently working on the lower Phongolo River catchment area. His focus is on the phytoplankton community, specifically the diatom community. His research focusses on the spatial and temporal distribution of diatoms throughout the lower Phongolo River and floodplain wetlands inside and outside of the Ndumo Game Reserve. He is also focussing on the changes in the fossil diatom structure as well as the importance of flood events on the structuring of the diatom community and the interaction between primary producers and consumers. Lastly Anrich also focusses on the effects of DDT on non-targeted diatoms and the effects of increased DDT concentrations on the functionality and vitality of diatoms.

He likes to refer to the words of Aristotle: “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit”. 

Doctoral student
Hannes Erasmus
Hannes Erasmus completed his undergraduate studies in B.Sc. Microbiology and Zoology in 2013 at North-West University and continued to pursue his Honours degree in 2014 in Biodiversity and Conservation Ecology under supervision of Professors Wolmarans, de Kock and Wepener. He has experience in water quality assessment, metal pollution, SASS and macroinvertebrate identification up to species level. He also completed his Master’s degree in 2016 expanding research on the macroinvertebrate community of the Loop Spruit. Hannes started his PhD in 2017, under supervision of Proffs Smit and Wepener, as well as Dr. Malherbe. His project is on the exposure and effects of platinum group elements on the aquatic ecosystems associated with platinum mining regions and will be done in collaboration with the University of Duisburg-Essen, in Germany.
 
Doctoral student
Anja Greyling
Anja Greyling completed her undergraduate B.Sc. degree with majors in Zoology, Geography and Tourism in 2014 and continued to her Honours degree in Biodiversity and Conservation Ecology at North West University in 2015. The focus of her research is on metal exposure in selected coastal areas of Southern Africa, highlighting how organisms benefit from the protection provided by Marine Protected Areas. During her Masters' degree she worked on stable isotope- and bioaccumulation analyses, which assessed the trophic transfer of metals and organochlorine pesticides in intertidal rocky shore organisms of a warm-temperate (Marine Protected Area) and a sub-tropical (unprotected) region. Her PhD project, in collaboration with Dr. Bernd Sures, will address the use of Clinus superciliosus as model organism to establish non-invasive methods of environmental parasitology within marine systems. Being in and a part of conserving nature and the ocean is something that touches her heart deeply.
Doctoral student
Marliese Truter
Marliese completed her undergraduate studies in Environmental Sciences (Zoology and Microbiology) at the North-West University in 2014. She pursued an Honours degree in 2015 in Aquatic Ecosystem Health under the supervision of Prof. Nico Smit and Drs. Wynand Malherbe and Iva Přikrylová. In 2016 she continued with a MSc in freshwater fish parasitology with a focus on invasion biology in collaboration with the Centre of Excellence for Invasion Biology (C.I.B) and the South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity (SAIAB) under the supervision of Proff. Nico Smit, Olaf Weyl and Dr. Iva Přikrylová. Her PhD focuses on the parasite diversity of the sharptooth catfish in native and introduced regions.

Doctoral student
Suanne Bosch

Suanne Bosch is specialising in aquatic and soil nanotoxicology. She completed her B.Sc degree in Zoology and Biochemistry in 2014, thereafter she continued to an Honours B.Sc degree in Ecological Remediation and Sustainable Management, which she completed in 2015. She completed her Masters degree at the the North-West University in 2017. Her project was based on determining the ecotoxicity of nanomaterials, specifically CdTe quantum dots, nano diamonds and nanogold in sediment and pore water. This was done using the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. Her PhD will focus on determining the toxicity of metallic nanoparticles using a bioaccumulation approach, focusing on both aquatic and terrestrial model organisms.

Doctoral student
Divan van Rooyen

Divan's M.Sc. focussed on the ecotoxicology of Cd/Te quantum dots and its functional groups on Enchytraeus albidus under the supervision of Prof Wepener, Prof Maboeta and Dr. Botha. He started his PhD in 2018 under the supervision of Professors Nico Smit and Victor Wepener with Dr Ruan Gerber. The focus of his PhD is to study the ecological health of aquatic ecosystems in the Usuthu River and associated pans, assessing the biodiversity of fish species, fish response to organochlorine pesticides and metals, determine Fish Health of the Usuthu River and associated pans, strontium stable isotopes, as well as to determine water and sediment quality of the associated pans and the river.