Professors

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.

 

Extraordinary Appointments

Extraordinary Appointed Professor
Prof. Glyn Howatson
Glyn Howatson is the Director of Research and Innovation, and Professor in Human and Applied Physiology at Northumbria University in the UK and an Accredited Exercise Physiologist with the British Association of Sport and Exercise Science. He received his Doctoral degree from Kingston University, London, in muscle damage and extends these interests to neuro-muscular adaptation and recovery from strenuous exercise.
Extraordinary Appointed Professor
Dr. Niel L. Bruce
Niel Bruce is a world expert on marine isopod crustaceans, a group of small sized, abundant and diverse crustaceans related to crabs and shrimp. His research began with an Honours thesis on the taxonomy of isopod crustaceans from the Red Sea. That interest in tropical crustaceans has continued to the present day.
Niel has written more than 150 scientific papers, numerous reports and popular articles including five monographs and two edited books. He has worked at the Smithsonian Institution, Australian Museum, Zoological Museum in Copenhagen as Curator of Crustacea and most recently at the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research in New Zealand as head of the Marine Invertebrate Biodiversity and Collections programs. Niel joined the Queensland Museum in 2007 as Senior Curator at the Museum of Tropical Queensland in Townsville. Niel's research continues to focus on the taxonomy, systematics, biogeography and biodiversity of tropical marine isopods, both free living and parasitic forms. He has described or redescribed more than 400 species, 40 new genera and three new families of marine isopod. Present research focuses on Great Barrier Reef isopods, using this work as the basis for higher level revisions of Australian isopods. The recent prime focus of work has been the systematics of the Asellota (a group of small isopods) from Australian coral reefs, funded by ABRS and CReefs–BHP Billiton. The other primary research focus, through graduate students, is revisions of fish parasitic isopods of Southern Africa and Australia Queensland Museum research collections of coral-reef isopods have been built from extensive field work on the Great Barrier Reef, and throughout the Indo-Pacific from Fiji and Papua New Guinea, the Great Barrier Reef, Western Australia and the Western Indian Ocean at South Africa, Mauritius, Zanzibar and Kenya.
 
Extraordinary Appointed Professor
Prof. Kenné de Kock
Kenné de Kock is a member of the team that studies the ecological health of selected river systems in the North-West Province. They 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 teaches the post-graduate students involved in these projects the skills to collect, identify and classify the aquatic macroinvertebrates and also to identify the marginal and aquatic vegetation encountered at each sampling site. These students are also trained to process and interpret their results and to write scientific publications. A considerable amount of his time goes towards the identification of the macroinvertebrates collected in their surveys and in the evaluation of the results in order to generate articles, in collaboration with the rest of the team, for submission to accredited scientific journals. He is also involved in a project, recently initiated, to do DNA barcoding of aquatic macroinvertebrates. He has already identified and screened samples of several freshwater mollusc species for the presence of parasites in order to prepare them for these analyses. He processes and report on samples of freshwater molluscs sent to him for identification and is also responsible for updating the database of the National Freshwater Snail Collection.
 
Extraordinary Appointed Professor
Prof. Stephen Klaine
In memoriam
 
Aug 5, 1952 - Apr 27, 2016
 
Just two dates separated by a line.  During this short lifetime line Stephen has had a profound influence on the lives of many people.  In the three years that Stephen was associated with the North-West University he became a dear friend, valued colleague and a true mentor to our ecotoxicology postgraduate students. Stephen will be sorely missed. Our prayers are with his family, friends and colleagues.
Extraordinary Appointed Professor
Prof. Luc Brendonck
Luc Brendonck is head of the laboratory and research professor with 25 years of experience within aquatic ecology, taxonomy, ecotoxicology, sustainable development, evolutionary ecology and ecological biogeography. Mainly, temporary wetlands and their invertebrate communities were used to assess diversity patterns in relation to environmental conditions (e.g. land use) and as models to analyze ecological and evolutionary processes. The involvement of Prof L. Brendonck as the Flemish project leader is premised on his extensive involvement with VLIR-UOS projects in Africa (see below). He has led about 20 multidisciplinary field excursions with staff and students in Zimbabwe and South Africa. He also has vast experience in monitoring of water quality and in aquatic ecology in Southern Africa and in integrated water resources management. He is therefore aware of the vast needs of the region. He is currently also participating as Flemish UNESCO expert in aquatic ecology in arid and semi-arid regions and is UNESCO advisor within FET-water (framework for education and training in water) in South Africa.
 
Extraordinary Appointed Professor
Prof. Yoshinori Ikenaka
Yoshinori Ikenaka is an associate professor at Hokkaido University, Japan. He specialises in Environmental Toxicology Work. Subjects of research include:
1) Study on mechanism of species differences in sensitivity to toxicological chemicals.
2) Toxicity evaluation and monitoring of environmental pollutants in wild animals in Africa.
Extraordinary 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.
 
Extraordinary Lecturer
Dr. Courtney Cook
Courtney began her postdoctoral research at the NWU in September 2012, after completing her Ph.D. at the University of Johannesburg in the field of tortoise apicomplexan parasite biodiversity and multi-element metal fingerprinting with the utilisation thereof in the conservation of South African tortoises. The postdoctoral research in which she is currently involved entails the apicomplexan biodiversity of different research fields involving members of the fishes from around the world, reptiles, amphibians and birds from South Africa, with the aim of the taxonomic and phylogenetic positioning these animals’ parasites. Phylogenetics is a field of biology concerning the identification and elucidation of evolutionary relationships, or evolutionary history, such as among genera and species. Parasites such as apicomplexan parasites display very few morphological or life-cycle traits that differentiate them on a morphological scale. However, on a genetic scale, differentiation is possible by the use of conservative and non-conservative gene fragments, such as that of the 18S rDNA and Cytochrome b mtDNA genes respectively. Current research projects include an international collaboration with the department of Biological Sciences of Arkansas State University, USA, researching the apicomplexan biodiversity of fishes of the eastern Caribbean, US and British Virgin Islands, and a collaboration with Kingston University, UK, researching population genetics of apicomplexan parasites parasitemic to South African herpatofauna; also a national collaboration with the University of the Free State, researching the taxonomy and phylogeny of neglected and new apicomplexans 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. Such research has led to a number of publications of international standards, with further output anticipated. For more information about Courtney, her research and publications please visit her ResearchGate profile:
 

 

Postdoctoral fellows

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. 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.
 
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.

 

Doctoral students

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 2nd year sandwich PhD. student, under the supervision of Professor Nico Smit and Louis du Preez at NWU, South Africa and Professor Luc Brendonck 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
Hilde Kemp
She is a PhD student at the Unit for Environmental Science and Management and a part of the Water Research Group at the North-West University, Potchefstroom Campus. She enrolled for her PhD in January 2013, under the supervision of Professor Corrie Wolmarans, Professor Victor Wepener and Professor Kenne de Kock. This is currently the final year of the project. Her project entails a comparative study of the aquatic macroinvertebrate biodiversity and selected physico-chemical parameters in the Marico River in the North-West Province of South-Africa.
Objectives are to:
  • Conduct comprehensive biodiversity surveys of aquatic macroinvertebrates during at selected sites in the Marico River and tributaries.
  • Undertake concomitant analyses of selected water physico-chemical parameters and metal concentrations in water and sediment samples at the selected sites.
  • Utilize a biomarker approach linking biological response to metal exposure using metallothionein levels in selected macroinvertebrate families as a biomarker.
  • Evaluate the river health in terms of all of the above factors.
 
Doctoral student
Kaajial Dugrapersad
 
She is registered as professional scientist (Pr.Sci.Nat.) with the South African Council for Natural Scientific Professions (SACNASP), which is the legislated regulatory body for Natural Science Professionals in South Africa. SACNASP recognizes and registers natural scientific practitioners and fosters the ethical practise and training of the natural scientific professions. She is a SACNASP referee for Eskom graduates.
Doctoral student
Anrich Kock

Anrich's M.Sc project focussed on the use of diatoms as bioindicator for ecosystem health within the Makuleke Wetlands and Lake Sibaya. He is currently working on the diatom community within the Phongolo system. The study focusses on the diatom community structure, drive force for energy flow difference between the river and wetland pans and  the response of diatoms to DDT exposures.

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 BSc. 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. During this period, research conducted by him and his colleagues led to a publication in the South African Journal of Science and Technology. 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 conerns platinum group elements and will be done in collaboration with the University of Duisburg-Essen.
 

 

Master's students

Master’s student
Jacques Beukes
He is a Master’s student at the School for Biological Sciences, Water Research Group, North-West University (NWU) Potchefstroom. He completed his degree in the year 2013 in B.Sc Zoology and Geography and his Honours in 2014 at NWU Potchefstroom. He started his Master’s in 2015 under supervisors, Dr. Wynand Malherbe and Prof Nico Smit and aim to complete it at the end of 2016. Jacques’ Master’s study includes the Health assessment of fishes form coastal lakes on the east coast of South Africa; focusing more on the Kosi Bay system.
Master’s student
Elizmarie Bester
Elizmarie is currently a M.Sc. student with Dr. Wynand Malherbe as her supervisor and Prof. Victor Wepener as her co-supervisor. She has a great love for the environment and wish to see it protected and conserved. She truly enjoys working with water. Analysing the water quality samples and determining the concentrations of nutrients and other chemicals is her favourite part of the project. Her project allows her to gain insight and experience into the protection of the environment. All research done is part of the Water Research Group and the Unit for Environmental Sciences and Management in the North-West University of Potchefstroom. The aims of her project are to establish the community structure as well as the distribution of aquatic macroinvertebrates found at the Ntsikeni Nature Reserve. As part of field surveys sediment, water quality samples, macroinvertebrates and zooplankton were collected and analysed. In so doing they hope to provide further insight and knowledge to the current status of Ramsar Wetlands in South Africa.
 
Master’s 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. She recently spent a few months in Japan at Hokkaido University in Sapporo, working on stable isotope- and bioaccumulation analyses. These techniques and the data obtained during her time in Japan, will be used in her Master’s project on 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. Being in and a part of conserving nature and the ocean is something that touches her heart deeply.
 
Master’s student
Elané Lubbe
 

Elané Lubbe is a postgraduate student part of the Water Research Group of the North-West University, Potchefstroom Campus. She completed her degree in Zoology and Microbiology and continued her passion with an Honour’s degree in Environmental Sciences. Currently she is doing her Master’s degree Environmental Science, specifically ecosystem health of wetlands.

Master’s student
Serita van der Wal
Serita van der Wal is a M.Sc. student with the Water Research Group. Her research project involves the biodiversity, systematics and ecology of branchial cavity inhabiting, marine fish parasitic isopod genera: Elthusa Schiöedte & Meinert, 1884, Norileca Bruce, 1990 and Mothocya Hope, 1851 (Famliy: Cymothoidae) from southern Africa. This is done using morphological and molecular techniques and includes the effect of these cymothoids on their fish hosts. Marine parasitology and parasitic isopods became her main research interest at the beginning of her Honours B.Sc. degree with the program: Biodiversity & Conservation Ecology in 2015. It was similar in many ways to her M.Sc. research project as it focussed on the intraspecific variability of a fish parasitic cymothoid isopod; Cymothoa eremita Brünnich, 1783 from southern Africa. Her preferred research include combining various techniques and fields of study to investigate the taxonomy, biodiversity, distribution and effects of marine parasites as they are often overlooked and excluded from marine ecology studies.
Master’s student
Marliese Truter
Marliese is a Master’s student in freshwater fish parasitology. In 2014 she obtained her degree in Environmental Sciences (Zoology and Microbiology) at the North-West University. Her existing interest in the aquatic sciences were fuelled when her postgraduate studies started off with the investigation of freshwater fish parasites from small fish at the Barberspan Ramsar wetland, North West. Her current project focus is on the parasite fauna of the alien invasive largemouth bass in North West, the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal and their origin — this project is in collaboration with the Centre of Excellence for Invasion Biology and the South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity.

Master’s student
Divan van Rooyen
Divan van Rooyen is a M.Sc. student within the WRG. His main focus is soil ecotoxicology, currently studying the ecotoxicity of nanomaterials by using nanodiamonds and CdTe Quantum Dots using Enchytraeus albidus. Previous studies include the ecotoxicity of metam sodium utilizing and Enchytraeid Reproduction Test (ERT).
Master’s student
Suanne Bosch

Suanne Bosch is an M.Env.Man student, specialising in ecological water requirements within the WRG. She completed her B.Sc degree in Zoology and Biochemistry, thereafter she continued to an Honours B.Sc. degree in Ecological Remediation and Sustainable Management. She is currently in her second year of her Masters degree at the WRG. Her project is based on determining the ecotoxicity of nanomaterials, specifically CdTe quantum dots and nano diamonds, in sediment and pore water. This will be done by using the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans.

Master’s student
Gerhard Bouwer
Gerhard Bouwer is a M.Sc. student who specializes in soil ecotoxicology, currently experimenting on the ecotoxicological effects of nanomaterials that include cadmium tellurium quantum dots and diamond nanocrystals on Eisenia andrei. Previous studies done on the ecotoxicological effects of Metam Sodium on the growth and reproduction of Eisenia andrei.
Master’s student
Marelize Labuschagne

Marelize is currently a Master's student at the NWU Potchefstroom Campus. In 2015 she obtained her undergraduate B.Sc degree in Environmental Sciences with majors in Zoology and MIcrobiology.  She recently finished her Honours degree in Aquatic Ecosystem Health were she became part of the WRG. During her third year she realised that she has a passion for the aquatic world, especially the marine environment, and thus she decided to broaden her horisons in this field. Her current project focuses on artificial monitoring devices that can detect platinum group elements (PGE) in the fresh water ecosystem, more precisely the Hex River catchment.

Master’s student
Mardi Strauss
Mardi has worked with water quality and macroinvertebrates of freshwater systems and completed her Honour's degree in this field. Now in the marine ecology field, she will be investigating the trophic interactions between isopod parasites and the corresponding fish hosts using stable isotope analysis.