Prof Louis du Preez, professor of zoology at the Potchefstroom Campus of the North-West University (NWU), was honoured by having a newly discovered Malagasy frog species named after him.
The honour was bestowed by a group of German scientists from the University of Braunschweig, Landesmuseum in Darmstadt, and the Zoological Museum in München, in recognition of Prof du Preez’s substantial contributions to understanding the flatworm parasites of Malagasy anurans.
This lineage of frog species represents the most evolutionarily divergent species of Blommersia known to date. It means within the genus Blommersia this new species branch off early and is in fact an old species. Although it is still regarded as Blommersia, it differs quite a lot from all other species in the genus.
The new species is now formally named and described as Blommersia dupreezi.
“I am grateful to be recognised for the work I did in Madagascar by having a vertebrate animal named after me. This is a huge honour and I am humbled by the gesture,” he says.
Prof du Preez is a renowned National Research Foundation B-rated scientist and is affiliated to the Unit of Environmental Sciences and Development at the NWU.
His role as leader of the African Amphibian Conservation Research Group is highly regarded in scientific circles. The group's research focuses on the conservation and well-being of amphibians.
Prof du Preez research focuses on amphibians and their parasites. He has authored seven books – including The Field Guide to Frogs of Southern Africa – as well as 168 peer-reviewed scientific papers.
His contribution to the knowledge field doesn't stop there, as he, along with Vincent Carruthers, created a smartphone app about the frogs of Southern Africa, which is truly commendable.
Prof du Preez says the best aspect of his work is training and inspiring young scientists. “Seeing their knowledge develop and finding their niche areas is incredibly rewarding for me.”
His job presents a variety of challenges, including the need for travel to remote locations. He adds that when one is passionate about their work, it can become difficult to separate your career and personal life. “My family has been remarkably supportive of my work – they've joined me in research and turned family trips into learning opportunities. It is thanks to them that I have been able to spend long hours in pursuit of my dreams while still having their support,” he adds.
Prof du Preez encourages aspiring researchers to remember to stay passionate about their work and focus on making positive contributions to the scientific world, rather than striving for personal achievements. “We all have a duty to improve conditions and increase the chance of survival for every species on Earth – including the frogs, who were one of the first land-dwelling animals and are now among the most threatened vertebrates on our planet,” he adds.
Prof Louis du Preez