Outdoor Man in His Element Studying Ecology and Reaping Huge Rewards
Mr Stuart Demmer graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Science in Ecology, winning several awards and scholarships during the course of his studies.
Demmer, who attended Hillcrest High School, initially wanted to study further from home but now says he’s happy he chose UKZN, where he discovered highly-skilled lecturers who it was a privilege to work with.
‘The courses they have put together are detailed and challenging and they set a high standard for undergraduate students,’ said Demmer.
Demmer chose to study ecology owing to his love of agriculture and the great outdoors, inspired in part by his grandfather who was a cattle farmer from Zimbabwe. A keen Scout, he maintained his love for camping and hiking while studying.
He was inspired by his high school teachers to combine his love of nature with his interest in the sciences. Demmer’s choice of university subjects paid off - he won awards for being the best third year student in Behavioural Ecology, Zoology, Plant Ecology and Entomology. He was also the recipient of Vice-Chancellor’s and Deputy Vice-Chancellor’s scholarships as well as the 50th Anniversary Award, and notched up five Dean’s commendations and 23 certificates of merit during his studies.
Demmer’s success is fuelled by his passion to understand the environment and to find ways of protecting and restoring its complexity. His advice to upcoming students is to read extensively, try and absorb the plethora of information available and to write about their science.
He thanked his parents, grandfather, and friend and mentor, Reitze Rodseth, for their guidance. He acknowledged his lecturers and teachers at school and at university for their encouragement as well as that of his friends.
Now studying for his Honours degree Demmer’s focus is on rangeland and grassland ecology and the restoration of grasslands in old commercial forest systems - a topic he is interested in pursuing to masters level and hopefully into a career in restoration ecology or academia.
Demmer enjoys the outdoor aspect of his studies, saying that seeing what he learns in practice is a privilege.
‘We have so much diversity right outside our doors that we often take for granted,’ he said. ‘As South Africans we’ve got a wealth of natural heritage to be proud of.’