Research Professor Ecotoxicology, North-West University

My research career started in 1980 on earthworms and dioxin (BSc Hons), earthworms and carbofuran (MSc), followed by DDT in human breast milk and blood in KwaZulu-Natal (PhD).

I focus on ecotoxicology applied to various biological systems: mainly earthworms, fish, humans, birds and recently crocodiles, and I also work on bird ecology and ethnobiology.

I worked at the Medical Research Council (researcher in environmental health), as zoology lecturer at the North-West University (NWU), as Specialist Scientist and Assistant Director at the Agricultural Research Council (ARC, Unit for Pesticide Impact), and now as Professor at the NWU.

With this background and on behalf of the SA Government I was able to inform, draft and negotiate international policy for the Stockholm Convention (SC) that eventually became part of international law. With the opportunities and experience gained from both field and lab research, I was able to eventually convert this into international policy to the advantage for millions of people still depending on DDT as defence against malaria.

Currently I co-manage the POPT (Persistent Organic Pollutant and Toxicant) research group established at the NWU, in association with my colleague, Dr Rialet Pieters. This group is internationally connected and we are implementing new technologies such as various cell lines for the bio-analysis of dioxin-like pollutants and endocrine disruptors in various matrixes. I was also very active in trying to find the causes of the mass crocodile deaths in the Kruger National Park.

I have students working on bird distributions in urban and rural areas, and on the biology and behaviour of Blue Cranes and Ant-eating Chats. Some bird studies interact with ecotoxicology, particularly on pollutant levels in bird eggs and behavioural interaction with cyanide containing water from gold mine slimes dams.

Experience

  • –present
    Research Professor Ecotoxicology , North-West University