Postdoctoral fellows


Dr Anja Erasmus

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Field of expertise: Gnathiidae, Integrated Taxonomy, Scientific Illustration, Environmental parasitology

Overview: Anja is currently serving as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the North-West University, exploring the gnathiid diversity of coral reefs around the world. She has a passion for taxonomy and enjoys illustrating these tiny cryptofauna. The broad focus of her research includes Environmental Parasitology to determine the effects of pollution on parasites and ecosystems. She enjoys combining her creative and organisational talents in the field of science. Being in nature and taking part in nature- and ocean conservation touch her heart deeply. 

Previous research experience: Anja completed a B.Sc. with majors in Zoology, Geography and Tourism in 2014 and a B.Sc. Hons in Biodiversity and Conservation Ecology at North-West University in 2015. Anja subsequently proceeded to a M.Sc. degree and her research assessed the trophic transfer of metals and organochlorine pesticides in intertidal rocky shore organisms by using stable isotopes. Her Ph.D. project, in collaboration with Prof Bernd Sures (Universität Duisburg-Essen in Germany), addresses the use of Clinus superciliosus as model organism to environmental parasitology within marine ecosystems.

Field of expertise: Environmental/Analytical Chemistry, Ecotoxicology, Risk assessment, Organic pollutants, Emerging contaminants, Aquatic ecotoxicology

Overview: Dr. Chinemerem Ohoro completed her Ph.D. at the University of Fort Hare in 2021, where she investigated organic pollutants in both water and sediment in four major River estuaries in Eastern Cape Province, South Africa. She is currently a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the North-West University. Her research interest, aquatic ecotoxicology focuses on investigating contaminants of emerging concern in biotic and abiotic, and evaluating their risk and effects of their concentration in biotic lives.

Previous research experience: Chinemerem has experience lecturing in both the Nursing Science and Chemistry Department at the University of Fort Hare, South Africa where she obtained her Ph.D.


 Dr Chinemerem Ohoro

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Dr Clarisse Louvard

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Field of expertise: blood-feeding, parasite, digenea, Gnathiidae, mitogenome, metagenomics, transcriptomics

Overview: Dr Louvard fell into aquatic parasite research by chance and quickly got hooked on the little critters ! She studied the taxonomy, systematics, life-cycles and evolution of hemiuroid digeneans during her PhD. In North-West University, she has extended her research to all blood-feeding parasites. She focuses on studying their evolution and gut microbiota with mitogenomics, genomics, metagenomics and transcriptomics for comparison with terrestrial blood-feeding parasites.

Past research experience: Clarisse holds a Ph.D. in Parasitology, a B.Sc. (Honours) in Parasitology from the University of Queensland (Australia) and a B.Sc. Marine Science from the University of Queensland (Australia) / SKEMA Business School (France). She has experience working at the National Museum of Natural History (France) as a research assistant on identification of freshwater microalgae (2011-2013), and at FRC Environmental consulting firm (Australia) as a contractor in identification of freshwater microalgae (2022). Clarisse is also a scuba-diving instructor (France).

Field of expertise: Aquatic Ecotoxicology, Mining pollution, Mercury, Platinum Group Elements

Overview: Dr Hannes Erasmus has always been intrigued and passionate about how contaminants affect aquatic ecosystems and the biota living in these systems. Since South Africa has several mining activities and mineral extraction processes, the aquatic ecosystems normally in the vicinity of these activities are under threat. Since South Africa is considered one of the top ten emitters of mercury in the world, he continued with a Postdoctoral Research Fellowship at the North-West University, South Africa, on how mercury is entering aquatic ecosystems and how this pollutant affects biota on different trophic levels. He received a Scarce Skills Postdoctoral Fellowship from the National Research Foundation of South Africa for 2022–2023. The biota he assesses for metal pollutants include aquatic plants, macroinvertebrates, fish and their associated parasites.

Previous research experience: In his B.Sc. Honours and M.Sc. degrees, he focused on the effects of gold mining activities on freshwater systems, while his Ph.D. focused on the exposure and effects of platinum mining on aquatic ecosystems. He has extensive experience in assessing various aspects of aquatic ecosystems for several private and government consultation companies across South Africa, as well as Africa (Madagascar and Tanzania). Dr Hannes is involved in the training of undergraduate students in Aquatic Ecology, as well as postgraduate students in Sustainable Development and Aquatic Ecotoxicology in South Africa, Madagascar, Germany, and Vietnam. He is passionate about training the new generation of up-and-coming researchers in the field of Aquatic Ecotoxicology on various chemical analytical instrumentation and techniques.


Dr Hannes Erasmus


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Dr Lizaan de Necker

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Affiliations: SAIAB; KU Leuven


Field of expertise: Climate change, Anthropogenic pressure, Aquatic freshwater macroinvertebrates, Aquatic  freshwater ecology

Overview: Lizaan is a self-motivated, driven aquatic ecologist and dual Postdoctoral Research Fellow at North-West University and NRF-SAIAB. Her research primarily looks at the effects of climate change, anthropogenic (human) pressures and natural phenomena such as droughts and floods on freshwater ecosystems. When she isn’t in the field getting her hands on aquatic critters, Lizaan is working as the lead investigator of a multidisciplinary research project assessing the current and future potential effects of climate change on bilharzia in South Africa and the perceptions of people around the topic. She is also part of a multi-institutional collaborative project looking into the conservation status of aquatic animals in South Africa.

Previous research experience: Dr Lizaan completed her B.Sc. Zoology and Human Physiology, B.Sc. (Honours) and M.Sc. in Aquatic Health degrees at the University of Johannesburg (2009-2015), then continued her research career at the North-West University where she completed her Ph.D. in Environmental Sciences on the biodiversity and ecological structures of an African subtropical river and associated floodplain pans.

Field of expertise: Biodiversity inventory of undiscovered freshwater fish parasites, Monogenea, Taxonomy, Alien and invasive species, Molecular characterisation

Overview: Dr Marliese is part of the REFRESH project, funded by the Foundational Biodiversity Information Programme (FBIP). The study incorporates traditional techniques for identifying parasitic species, evaluating parasitic community assemblages, and introduces a novel sub-discipline known as historical ecology of parasitism. This sub-discipline aids in characterizing and monitoring changes in parasitic communities among freshwater fishes in South Africa over time. The project's goal is to revitalize and address research gaps in understanding freshwater species in South Africa, crucial for biodiversity assessments and informing ecosystem conservation. The research is grounded in the recognition that South African rivers harbor diverse and unique freshwater fishes, including numerous endemic species. Despite this richness, there is a lack of comprehensive knowledge regarding the parasitic communities within these ecosystems. Past biodiversity assessments that excluded parasites have proven detrimental. These minuscule organisms significantly contribute to biomass functioning and food web connectivity in ecosystems. Including them in biodiversity assessments is essential for generating accurate data sets, enabling precise predictions about shifts and the fate of aquatic ecosystems and their associated biodiversity in the future.

Previous research experience: She completed her B.Sc. Zoology and Microbiology, B.Sc. (Honours) and M.Sc. in Environmental Science and her Ph.D. (cum laude) at the North-West University in collaboration with the South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity from 2014-2022.


Dr Marliese Truter


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Affiliations: SAIAB

Dr Russell Yong

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Field of expertise: Marine, parasitology, digenea, trematode, taxonomy, systematics

Overview: Dr Yong’s primary research interests pertain to the discovery and taxonomic and phylogenetic characterisation of parasitic flatworms (Digenea) which infect fish, though have some (limited) experience with other parasitic taxa as well (nematodes, copepods, isopods). Having lived in Australia for the past 18 years, focus in South Africa will be to tap into the rich, little-characterised fauna of fish parasites present in marine systems. 

Previous research experience: Postgraduate study (Honours and PhD) was completed in The University of Queensland (Australia) working extensively on the blood fluke (Aporocotylidae) fauna of shallow-water marine fishes.


Last updated: February 2024

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