Postdoctoral fellow
Dr. Sarel Brand
Sarel Brand did his PhD in Pharmacology, following his undergraduate degree in B.Pharm. He has expertise in translational neuroscience, animal model development, in vivo microdialysis. During his postdoc he will be testing aquatic ecotoxicity of nanomaterials in Danio rerio as a model of the aquatic environment. 
Postdoctoral fellow
Dr. Tarryn Lee Botha
Tarryn Lee Botha completed her PhD at the University of Johannesburg under the supervision of Prof Victor Wepener with a thesis entitled “The aquatic toxicology of gold nanoparticles (nAu)”. The project followed a tiered research approach: Particle distribution and agglomeration in the reconstituted water medium was evaluated using several microscopy techniques as well as characterization tools which included dynamic light scattering and Fourier transform infrared spectrometery; acute testing of standard international species (bacteria, algae, Daphnia spp. and Danio rerio- zebrafish) following OECD protocols; chronic testing of Daphnia magna using a reproduction test protocol; D. rerio was used as a model organism for in vivo nanoparticle uptake and biodistribution; DNA microarray analysis and Real Time Polymerase Chain Reactions using the liver was used to determine gene expression; and whole body samples to determine circulating protein levels of biomarkers of response and oxidative stress. Tarryn has undergone training at the Fraunhofer IME Institute in Schmallenberg, Germany and the Veterinary Medicine School at the Hokkaido University in Japan. This year she attended three national and three international conferences. Tarryn has joined the North-West University as a Postdoctoral Fellow and is also part of the Department of Science and Technology Nanotechnology's Health, Safety and Environmental Risk Research Platform (Nano-HSE Risk Research Platform).
 
Postdoctoral fellow
Dr. Iva Přikrylová 
Iva is a postdoctoral fellow from Masaryk University. Her research is focused on molecular and classic taxomony, diversity and phylogeny of monogenean parasites of freshwater and marine fishes. Since her first field trip on the African continent in September 2004 in Senegal, she has been working mainly on the African parasites as a part of her research she visited and collected material in several African countries as were Senegal, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Burundi and South Africa. After completing her PhD at the Department of Botany and Zoology, Faculty of Science, Masaryk University, Brno, Iva continued her research there working on her three years post-doctoral grant “African gyrodactylid parasites – white spots on the map of the current knowledge: search for the diversity of monogenean parasites and their phylogenetic relationships” funded by Czech Science Foundation.  Since March 2012, she has been intensively collaborating with Prof. Wilmien Luus-Powell from University of Limpopo and in July 2015 joint North-West University Water Research Group as a postdoctoral fellow. She continues in a part time at Department of Botany and Zoology, Faculty of Science, Masaryk University, Brno. As a part of her postdoctoral fellow at North-West University she works on identification of various group of monogenean using several techniques, finding a great opportunity to explore understudied diversity of these small parasites in the African continent. Currently she is also involves in the study of parasites of invasive fish in South Africa.
 
Postdoctoral fellow
Dr. Ruan Gerber
Dr Ruan Gerber is a post-doctoral research fellow. He completed his undergraduate and postgraduate studies at the University of Johannesburg and was awarded the HJ Schoonbee medal for his thesis. Broadly his interests include studying the ecotoxicology of aquatic ecosystems with a focus on how humans are affecting aquatic biota from the cellular to the ecosystem level. Currently his research is focused on how freshwater systems found within South Africa’s premier conservation are impacted by human activities and the management of these systems.
Postdoctoral fellow
Dr. Rachel Welicky
Rachel Welicky is a postdoctoral fellow from Arkansas State University. Her research interests are in understanding the interactions between coral reef fish and the parasites that infect them. During her PhD research, she examined the effects of Anilocra infection on the behavior and physiology of Caribbean reef fish. Like many other scientists, her dissertation research only left her with more questions, and the questions that most interest her require a better understanding of the biology of Anilocra. There is very little actually known about Anilocra, and that’s where the WRG and her current research comes into play! As part of the WRG, she is learning as much as she can about Anilocra using both taxonomic and molecular approaches. By gaining a better understanding about how Anilocra species vary with respect to morphology and genetics, she will be able to conduct more informed ecological studies about Anilocra-host interactions.
 
Postdoctoral fellow
Dr. Olena Kudlai
Olena is a postdoctoral fellow from Schmalhausen Institute of Zoology, Ukraine. She specialises in the molecular and traditional systematics and life-cycle of digeneans. She is currently focusing on the diversity of digeneans in African wildlife, applying molecular diagnostics and morphological characterisation. Within this large group of parasites, she works with digeneans that parasitise fishes as intermediate and definitive hosts. Her studies will provide a novel insight in the diversity and taxonomy of African digeneans.
Postdoctoral fellow
Dr. Bjoern Schaeffner

Bjoern completed his Ph.D. at the University of Melbourne (Australia) in 2014. He since spent a combined 9 months in Budweis (Czech Republic) at the Czech Academy of Sciences and a total of 3 years in Sao Paulo (Brazil) at the University of Sao Paulo as a postdoctoral fellow. His main research interests as a parasitologist revolve around the systematics, diversity, biogeography, and coevolution of endoparasitic helminths, predominantly cestodes (tapeworms), that parasitize bony and cartilaginous fishes in marine and freshwater environments around the globe. He only recently joined the team of the WRG in March 2018. His current research at NWU is focused on the understudied biodiversity of cestodes infecting chondrichthyans (sharks, rays, and chimaeras) in two, distinct marine provinces of southern Africa using an integrative taxonomy approach.

Postdoctoral fellow
Dr. Hilde Kemp

Dr. Hilde Kemp completed her PhD at NWU in 2016. She is currently a post-doctoral fellow and her research mainly entails studies regarding the water quality of South African rivers. Her primary focus is on the aquatic macroinvertebrate diversity and physico-chemical parameters in surface water and sediment. She is also studying the process of phytoremediation as a method to improve water quality by making use of an artificial wetland system constructed in the North-West University’s Botanical Gardens.

 
 
Postdoctoral fellow
Dr. Mariska Laubscher

Dr. Mariska Laubscher completed her PhD at Stellenbosch University in 2016.  She is currently a post-doc fellow and her research interests involve aquatic fungal diseases.  While her research include all aspects of fungal research from morphological and molecular characterisation, detection methods and anti-fungal screening her primary focus at the moment is to develop an environmental DNA (eDNA) based detection tool to detect the Oomycete, Aphanomyces invadans, from water systems.  Aphanomyces invadans is the causative agent for Epizootic Ulcerative Syndrome (EUS) in both farmed and wild fishes in fresh water and estuaries.  Early detection will assist in risk management programs.

Postdoctoral fellow
Dr. Deidre West
Dr. Deidré West completed her PhD in 2016 at the University of the Free State. Her main research focus is on water quality and the diversity of aquatic micro-organisms, such as zooplankton, within ephemeral wetlands of southern Africa. Currently her post-doctoral research is focussed on the zooplankton diversity of the Phongolo River floodplains, South Africa, and that of northern Botswana’s Okavango Delta and its associated basins.