Dr. Kyle J McHugh
Currently working for QuintilesIMS

Kyle graduated from the Water Research Group in 2015.

Currently working for QuintilesIMS in the Clinical Operations Department for Infectious diseases. His current projects are on Ebola in Mali and Senegal as well as on a TB vaccine which in the human trial phase of development. He is finalising papers from his PhD after which he will be seeking more collaborating opportunities.

Dr. Christian Selbach
Currently doing his Postdoc at University of Otago with Prof Robert Poulin (2017-2019)

Christian graduated from the Water Research Group in 2016.

He was a postdoctoral fellow at the Water Research Group working on the ecological role of parasites and their hosts.

At University of Otago, he is currently working on a DFG-funded project (German Research Foundation) that looks at the transmission abilities and predator evasion of free-swimming trematode cercariae. This study will provide valuable insights into the structuring forces that determine parasite dispersal and thus shape parasite communities in ecosystems.

He studied English and Biology in Germany and New Zealand and finished his degree in 2010 at the University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany. In the course of his dissertation at the Department of Aquatic Ecology in Essen he studied the biology and ecology of digenean trematodes parasitizing aquatic snails in the Ruhr reservoir system in Germany. The study resulted in a comprehensive dataset that allowed to analyse the role of these important parasites in man-made waterbodies and provided new insights into their contribution to the ecosystem’s biodiversity and biomass as well as their medical relevance as human pathogens. At the Water Research Group, Christian studied how the complex interplay between native and invasive snail hosts and their parasites shape and influence free-living and parasite communities in South African ecosystems.
Dr. Wihan Pheiffer
Currently senior lecturer at the DST/NWU Preclinical Drug Development Platform (PCDDP)

Wihan graduated from the Water Research Group in 2016.

Wihan Pheiffer was a PhD student at the NWU’s Unit for Environmental Sciences and Management and Water Research Group (WRG).

After his postdoctoral studies at Pharmaceutical toxicology, he was appointed as a senior lecturer at the DST/NWU Preclinical Drug Development Platform (PCDDP). At the PCDDP, they conduct various preclinical studies of new products that are being developed, focusing on closing the gap between pharmaceutical and phytochemical R&D, among others.

He began his PhD in 2013, under the supervision of Prof Rialet Pieters and Prof Nico Smit. The aim of his study was to investigate the potential exposure of humans and wildlife to the 16 priority polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in the Klip River that flows through the densely populated Soweto and Lenasia. The study included the assessment of the PAH levels in the environment and their different toxic effects in the sediments and fish. For the postdoc he investigated potential toxicity of pharmaceutical excipients to human skin using an immortalised keratinocyte tissue culture.
Uané Pretorius
Currently an Environmental Scientist at Exigo3 Sustainability

Uané graduated from the Water Research Group in 2016.

Uané Pretorius was a Master's student at the Unit for Environmental Sciences and Management and a member of the Water Research Group at the North-West University, Potchefstroom Campus. She enrolled for her undergraduate degree in Zoology and Microbiology in 2011 and completed the degree in 2013. Under the supervision of Professors Corrie Wolmarans, Victor Wepener and Kenné de Kock, she completed her Honours project in November 2014. The project entailed a baseline study of the aquatic macroinvertebrate diversity and selected physico-chemical parameters of the Mooi River and Wonderfontein Spruit, North-West Province, which also formed the basis of her Master's project, which she completed in 2016.

Elané Lubbe
Environmental Scientist at Exigo3 Sustainability

Elané graduated from the Water Research Group in 2017.

Elané Lubbe was 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. She did her Master’s degree in Environmental Science, specifically ecosystem health of wetlands.

Jacques Beukes
Teacher at Sasolburg High School

Jacques graduated from the Water Research Group in 2017.

Jacques is currently a teacher at Sasolburg High School in Sasolburg/FS.
He was a Master’s student at the Water Research Group until 2017, under the supervision of Dr. Wynand Malherbe and Prof Nico Smit. He completed his degree in the year 2013 in B.Sc Zoology and Geography and his Honours in 2014 at NWU Potchefstroom. Jacques’ Master’s studies included the health assessment of fishes form coastal lakes on the east coast of South Africa, focusing more on the Kosi Bay system.
Elizmarie Bester
English Teacher in Taiwan
Elizmarie was a M.Sc. student with Dr. Wynand Malherbe as her supervisor and Prof. Victor Wepener as her co-supervisor.
She is currently a teacher at Greenland English School in Chungli, Taiwan.
She has a great love for the environment and wish to see it protected and conserved. Her project allowed her to gain insight and experience into the protection of the environment. The aims of her master's project were 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 provided further insight and knowledge to the current status of Ramsar Wetlands in South Africa.
Serita van der Wal
PhD candidate in Germany

Serita van der Wal graduated from the Water Research Group in 2017.

She was a M.Sc. student with the Water Research Group. Her research project involved 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.

She is currently pursuing her PhD degree at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, in Germany, with the financial aid of a DAAD Doctoral Programme Research Grant. Her project at the Graduate School of Life Sciences is titled: “Approaching the evolution of parasitism in a historical context: isopod crustaceans as an example”. It is important to understand the evolution and development of parasitism in order to answer questions regarding the effects that they have on their hosts. As one of the largest orders within the crustacean subphylum, the isopods are considered to be the most morphologically diverse and species rich order of crustaceans. Their relatively large size, accessibility and lifestyle make parasitic isopods the perfect experimental group. The aim of her project is to reconstruct the evolutionary history of parasitic isopods modern day forms as well as fossil material.

Dr. Kaajial Dugrapersad
Environmental Scientist at Eskom

Kaajial graduated from the Water Research Group in 2017.

Kaajial is an environmental scientist at Eskom Research, Testing and Development (RT&D). Her passion for environmental management and specifically water related issues, coupled with her extensive experience in catchment management at Randwater, was of great value when she joined Eskom at RT&D in 2007.  Kaajial has initiated research in water and wetland resources within Eskom which, this is now an operational programme at Eskom Power stations. She was selected to initiate her PhD under Eskom’s Power Plant Engineering Institute Programme (EPPEI) in 2014. 

In her Doctoral thesis, The development of a Relative Risk Method model based on the risk management of aquatic ecosystems influenced by construction activities, she made use of risk assessment methodologies for the management of aquatic ecosystems.  In her research, she collated and integrated more than two decades' worth of environmental data comprising different bio-physical and ecosystem parameters.  This was achieved through the development of a relative risk assessment model and using Kusile Power Station construction activity as the case study. It demonstrated that the bayesian network relative risk model can be used to calculate risk for multiple stressors using different scenarios.   Her research concluded that the model is a powerful evidence-based outcomes tool for making informed decisions on future management strategies for aquatic ecosystem management in South Africa.

Dr. Christa Thirion
Scientist Manager at South Africa Government

Christa graduated from the Water Research Group in 2015.

She has been working at the Department of Water Affairs (Resource Quality Services) since 1987, where she started as a Hydrologist, doing water quality and catchment management related work. Since then, she has specialised in riverine ecology focussing on aquatic invertebrates.

Christa is currently involved in method development for the National River Ecostatus Monitoring Programme. The tools and techniques are also used in the determination of Environmental Water Requirements and the setting and monitoring of Resource Quality Objectives.

Her Doctoral thesis was entitled The determination of flow an habitat requirements for selected riverine macroinvertebrates, which she performed from 2012 to 2015, under the supervision of Prof. Victor Wepener.


Watch this space!