Prof. Nico Smit
Nico Smit is a Professor in Ecology at cofounder of the Water Research Group at the North-West University, Potchefstroom Campus, South Africa, with more than 25 years’ experience in Aquatic Parasitology, focusing primarily on Fish Parasites. Nico’s research on fish parasites includes extensive studies on the biodiversity, taxonomy and ecology of parasitic Crustacea and blood protozoa of marine and freshwater fishes, and he has authored and co-authored more than 200 scientific papers and three books on these and other related topics with 3 996 citations and an h-index of 33 (Google Scholar, September 2022). To date 24 PhD and 34 MSc students have graduated under his supervision. He has acted as project leader for multimillion-rand projects on the conservation of southern Africa’s iconic tiger fish, the assessment of aquatic ecotoxicology of PGE in aquatic ecosystems in South Africa, the conservation of fish and associated parasite species, as well as projects on the Phongolo River and its flood plains. Nico has contributed to the management of national and international academic societies as president of the Parasitological Society of Southern Africa (PARSA), president of the South African Society of Aquatic Scientists (SASAqS), and committee member of the International Symposium on Fish Parasites (ISFP). He has been a Keynote speaker at the annual conferences of both the Australian and British Societies for Parasitology and received honouree appointments as Visiting Research Professor from The University of Queensland, Australia, and the INNOLEC Visiting Chair from Masaryk University, Czech Republic. During the past 8 years he has refereed papers for 17 international journals, served as associate editor of two international journals and was guest editor for two special issues of the International Journal for Parasitology: Parasites and Wildlife. In 2017 he become the first South African aquatic parasitologist to be rated by the South African National Research Foundation (NRF) as an internationally acclaimed scientist (B3 rating) and during his most recent evaluation by the NRF in 2022 he was upgraded to a B1 rating that indicates that all the reviewers are firmly convinced that he enjoys considerable international recognition for the high quality and impact of his recent research outputs, with some of them also indicating that he is a leading international scholar in the field of fish parasitology. Nico has also been awarded the Elsdon-Dew Medal by PARSA in 2022 for his contribution to parasitology in Africa.
Prof. Victor Wepener

Victor Wepener is the leading expert in ecotoxicology and ecological risk assessment (ERA) in Africa and the cofounder of the WRG. He has trained 34 Ph.D. and 84 M.Sc. students in terrestrial, aquatic, estuarine and marine ecotoxicology. His research is currently involved in the ERA of nanomaterials, where he was the lead author of a Water Research Commission (WRC) report on identifying the research needs for conducting a risk assessment of nanomaterials in aquatic environments, and participant in OECD and European Union projects on the topic. His passion is expanding the field of ecotoxicology in Africa, and he was the first president of the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC) African Geographical Unit and was president of the Southern African Society of Aquatic Scientists (SASAqS). To date, he has a research output of around 175 publications in the peer reviewed journals, 7 chapters in books, 3 962 citations, and has an h-index of 34, (Google Scholar, September 2022). Victor is an NRF rated scientist (C2) and in 2022 he was awarded the Gold Medal from SASAqS in recognition of his contribution to South African aquatic sciences.

Associate Professor
Prof. Kerry Hadfield Malherbe

Kerry Hadfield is an Associate Professor in Zoology with a special interest in aquatic systematic parasitology. She has revised and described several genera and species of cymothoid isopods from around the world (including 3 new genera and 24 new species), has 38 publications, 1 co-authored book, 5 book chapters, and is an NRF Y-1 rated researcher. Her focus has been on marine parasitic isopods (Cymothoidae and Gnathiidae), expanding to include other parasitic crustaceans. She is also one of the taxonomic editors for the World Register of Marine Species (WoRMS) and the World List of Marine Freshwater and Terrestrial Isopod Crustaceans, associate editor for African Zoology and is the current president of the Parasitological Society of Southern Africa (PARSA).

Associate Professor
Prof. Courtney Cook

Courtney Cook is an Associate Professor in Zoology with a 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, mammals, and reptiles. Her 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, and Philippines; 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 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. Since 2022, she is also the Vice-President (2022–2025) of the Parasitological Society of Southern Africa (PARSA).

Associate Professor
Prof. Wynand Malherbe

Wynand Malherbe is an Associate Professor in Aquatic ecology in the Water Research Group. He is the coordinator for the Master’s in Environmental Management with specialisation in Ecological Water Requirements in the Unit for Environmental Sciences and Management (UESM). His research interests include riverine and wetland ecology, aquatic invertebrates, fish, ecological assessments, as well as biomonitoring and water resource management in Africa. He has completed a Water Research Commission project on the aquatic biodiversity of selected Ramsar sites in South Africa. The main aim of the project was to support South Africa’s requirements in terms of the Ramsar Convention to provide up-to-date information on the aquatic biodiversity for the currently declared Ramsar sites. He is an NRF-rated researcher (Y) and the current vice-president of the Southern African Society of Aquatic Scientists (SASAqS).


Last updated: May 2023

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