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Emeritus Professor Awarded Prestigious Gold Medal

2017/07/19 08:14:08 PM

Professor Emeritus Rob Hart of the School of Life Sciences was recently awarded a Gold Medal from the Southern African Society of Aquatic Scientists

Professor Rob Hart with his SASAqS Gold Medal. 

Professor Emeritus Rob Hart of the School of Life Sciences (SLS) was recently awarded a Gold Medal from the Southern African Society of Aquatic Scientists (SASAqS) in recognition of his exceptionally high standard of research in the aquatic sciences and contributions to the field, specifically contributions to planktonic biota. The rare honour was bestowed at the society’s 54th Annual Conference in Boksburg from 25 – 28 June.

Hart joins around 17 other luminaries who have received the honour, including former Minster of Water and Forestry Affairs Kader Asmal, and UKZN’s Professor Emeritus Charles Breen.

‘I was almost “blind-sided” on hearing its announcement,’ said Hart. ‘It is a privilege to receive this award by a professional scientific society that has been in existence for more than half a century.’

The SASAqS was founded as the Limnological Society of South Africa (LSSA), and is concerned with the research, management and conservation of inland waters throughout southern Africa.

Hart received a Fellowship from UKZN in 2005 and was awarded a DSc in Zoology in 1994. He completed his BSc in Botany and Zoology at the then-University of Natal (UN), and received his PhD in Zoology from Rhodes University in 1974, where he held an endowed Chair of Postgraduate Limnology from 1982 to 1987. Returning to the University of Natal, he held the positions of Senior Lecturer, Associate Professor and Professor in Zoology. He has authored/co-authored more than 100 journal articles, a monograph on inland waters of southern Africa, and various book chapters, and supervised a number of postgraduate students.

His PhD studies on Lake Sibaya provided the only South African contribution to the International Biological Programme (IBP) on Freshwater Productivity (PF). His subsequent studies on freshwater shrimps (Caridina) in Sibaya provided baseline information for understanding Caridina’s proliferation in Lake Victoria following Nile Perch introduction.

Hart has refereed for numerous journals, served on several editorial boards, acted as committee member and advisor for a range of agencies and forums and served in various portfolios for several professional societies. His extensive research interests range from general functional biology to biological productivity and ecosystem ecology of natural coastal lakes and man-made river-reservoir systems (dams), with particular interests in the impacts of suspended sediments and nutrient pollution on the structure and functioning of river reservoirs.

Hart’s research on zooplankton has focused largely on copepods, with contributions including conceptualised exposition of a global growth rule for this prolific marine and freshwater animal assemblage and a more recent integrative synthesis of intrinsic and ecological factors determining body-size in planktonic crustaceans.

After retiring in 2007, Hart has been interrogating the use of biomanipulation to remediate severe effects of eutrophication (nutrient pollution) affecting many South African dams and posing critical threats to water security and human health. Having revealed the regional ecological futility of biomanipulation as a restorative measure, Hart remains gravely concerned at the inexorable threat posed by eutrophication. As virtually the only remaining lake limnologist in a country hugely dependent on man-made lake water storage, he does not plan to hang up his ‘boats’ just yet.


Christine Cuénod


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