News » Award Winnings for SAIAB Research Fellows at North West University

Award Winnings for SAIAB research fellows at North-West University

Compiled By: Dr Marliese Truter

During the 4th International Congress on Parasites of Wildlife (ICPoW) and the 50th Annual Parasitological Society of Southern Africa (PARSA) conference, NRF-SAIAB Honorary Research Associate Professor Nico Smit was honoured with the Elsdon-Dew Medal. The medal is the highest recognition in the field of parasitology research and was awarded to Prof Smit for his contribution to parasitology in Africa. At the same event Dr Marliese Truter, (SAIAB & North-West University (NWU) Postdoctoral Research Fellow) received the Senior WO Neitz Medal that is awarded to a candidate for the best PhD thesis in parasitology at any university in South Africa.


Dr Marliese Truter and Prof Nico Smit at the 4th International Congress on Parasites of
Wildlife (ICPoW) and the 50th Annual Parasitological Society of Southern Africa (PARSA)
conference held in Skukuza, South Africa.

Continuing the wave of achievement, SAIAB and NWU Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Dr Fortunate Phaka received the Silver Award in the Eco-Angel category during the annual Eco-Logic Awards. This prestigious event was established by Enviropaedia to honour individuals, communities and organisations that contribute to a sustainable world. The Eco-Angel category acknowledges individuals whose caring actions contribute to the protection of biodiversity and Dr Phaka received the award in recognition of his outreach initiative “Wildlife in Vernacular” or “Wild Vernac” that formed part of his PhD and aimed at documenting and presenting wildlife knowledge in South Africa’s overlooked languages. The initiative, still in its infancy, is run from a website and varius social media platforms. Earlier this year he was also honoured at the Golden Shield Heritage Awards for the contribution of his research toward preserving South Africa’s heritage.


Dr Fortunate Phaka, recipient of the Silver Medal in the Eco-Angel Category of
the Eco-Logic Awards, in action in the field.

Sustainable Development Living Lab

The Sustainable Development Living Lab is a two-week field course integrated in the ICP Master in Sustainable Development at KU Leuven, Belgium. The central goal of this programme is to stimulate the exploration of new ideas and co-creation of potential solutions for a more sustainable future. SAIAB and NWU Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Dr Lizaan de Necker participated in the organisating and hosting of this integrative initiative since its conception in 2018. The 2022 edition of the Living Lab took place in South Africa within the Ndumo region, northern KwaZulu-Natal, in partnership between KU Leuven and the Water Research Group at North-West University. Sixty students attended the 2022 edition in South Africa with more than 26 countries being represented. During the course, data was collected over a two-weeks period for a variety of socio-ecological subjects including mapping of household waste disposal; tree growth and use by local communities; climate change and the risk it poses to local communities; the role of Ndumo Game Reserve in conserving aquatic biodiversity; effects of various land use activities on water quality and invasive aquatic species and their role in the Phongolo ecosystem.


A compilation of the activities during the practical 2022 Living Lab of the Master in
Sustainable Development in the Ndumo Game Reserve, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.