Director: Unit for Environmental Sciences and Management
Prof. Nico Smit
Nico Smit is the co-ordinator of the Water Research Group. He is also the Director of the Environmental Research Unit. His research specialisation is in aquatic ecology and focus on the role of keystone species in aquatic ecosystems and the anthropogenic impacts on them. He plays an active role in postgraduate student supervision. His areas of expertise are aquatic ecologist and ecotoxicologist, specialising in aquatic ecology, fish biology and ecology, marine and freshwater parasitology. He acts as project leader of two multi million rand project on the conservation of southern Africa’s iconic tiger fish, as well as a project on the Phongola river and flood plains.
Director: School for Biological Science
Prof. Victor Wepener
Professor Wepener is the leading expert in Aquatic Ecotoxicology and in Ecological Risk Assessment (ERA) in South Africa. He has trained students in ERA of pesticides to sediment risk assessments in the marine environment. He was lead author on a Water Research Commission report on identifying the research needs for conducting risk assessment of nanomaterials in aquatic environments.  Professor Wepener has published extensively on these themes and has also participated in OECD and NANOSOLUTIONs projects internationally assessing a main contributor from South Africa on these topics.
Professor
Prof. Corrie Wolmarans
Corrie Wolmarans is busy with studies regarding the ecological health of selected river systems in the North-West Province. He and co-workers evaluate the macroinvertebrate biodiversity and selected abiotic factors which could have an influence on their spatial and temporal distribution. They are currently focusing on selected sites in the Marico, Crocodile and Mooi River catchment areas. He is also involved in a project, recently initiated, to do DNA barcoding of aquatic macroinvertebrates. He, Prof De Kock, Prof Wepener, postgraduate students and colleagues from Water Affairs and Geo-Sciences are in collaboration with regard to the above mentioned projects.
Lecturer
Dr. Kerry Hadfield Malherbe
Kerry Malherbe began her post-doctoral fellowship in September 2012 studying the parasitic isopods from the family Cymothoidae. This project aims at completely revising the cymothoid isopods from around the world. These isopods can cause skin damage, lesions, anaemia and may even lead to the death of the host in extreme cases. Thus, an in-depth study on the biodiversity of these parasites is necessary to compile data on their taxonomic placements, occurrence, distribution, and hosts to determine effects these parasites are having on fish populations. This work is a continuation of her PhD work where she reviewed three cymothoid genera (Ceratothoa Dana, 1852, Cinusa Schioedte&Meinert, 1884, and CymothoaFabricius, 1787) known from southern Africa. The current project continues with this taxonomic and systematic revision, including descriptions of new species from South Africa and abroad. Furthermore, the molecular typing of these genera from South Africa will also be done for accurate identification and more insight into the phylogenetic relationships of these isopods. This genetic work on the South African species would also be the first for these isopods in the country and could provide valuable information for future research.
Lecturer
Dr. Courtney Cook
Courtney Cook is a lecturer with special focus in Parasitology and Herpetology. She specialises in both terrestrial and aquatic blood parasite biodiversity with the aim of resolving the taxonomic and phylogenetic positioning of these parasites. As such she also plays an active role in training and supervision of postgraduate students in this area, working on these parasites from amphibians, fishes and mammals. Current research projects include an international collaboration with the Department of Biological Sciences of Arkansas State University, USA, researching apicomplexan blood parasite biodiversity of fishes of the eastern Caribbean, US and British Virgin Islands; a national collaboration with the Department of Zoology and Entomology, University of the Free State, researching neglected and new apicomplexan blood parasites of reptiles and birds, 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.
Subject Specialist
Dr. Wynand Malherbe
Wynand joined the Water Research Group as a Post-Doctoral Fellow in 2013 after completing his Ph. D in Aquatic Health. His doctoral thesis involved the ecological risk assessment of pesticides used at an agricultural water scheme in the arid part of South Africa. This research has enabled Wynand to become skilled in aquatic ecosystem and ecological risk assessment. He has published several peer reviewed articles in accredited journals, presented papers at national and international conferences, and is registered as professional natural scientist (Pri Sci Nat). As part of his Post-Doctoral Fellowship he is the principal investigator of a Water Research Commission project studying the aquatic biodiversity of selected Ramsar sites in South Africa. The main aim of the project is to support South Africa’s requirements in terms of the Ramsar Convention to provide up to date information on the aquatic biodiversity at the currently declared Ramsar sites.