Visits to his grandparents’ farm inspired Mr Stuart Demmer to pursue studies in Ecological Sciences.
Demmer graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Science Honours in Ecological Sciences at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. He said he chose rangeland ecology because of his love for the creation humans are a part of. ‘There are so many intricacies which make the world around us function so perfectly. But when humans begin to mess with our environment things quickly start going wrong and have massive knock on effects which become difficult to fix. My hope is that by studying the system’s natural, undisturbed state I can help restore damaged ecosystems to their former functioning state.’
Demmer’s mentor and friend, Professor Reitze Rodseth, said: ‘Stuart has a wonderful way of thinking about the world, different from everyone else. It’s one of the many things that make him a unique scholar.’
Demmer believes that the task of the modern educator was not to cut down jungles, but to irrigate deserts, so when he is not taking pictures of the environment he would probably be doing some gardening.
He attributed his success to his family, teachers, lecturers, mentors and God. His biggest challenge was managing to find time for his academics and his different commitments.
Demmer advised undergraduate students to become computer literate to improve their workflow and prevent frustration and to read. ‘The library has many textbooks relevant to each subject. But few people ever take them out. Reading is challenging but it can really help improve English and your writing ability – something we all struggle with.’
Demmer is currently doing his Masters in Grassland Science and hopes to one day become a PhD candidate.
Words: Swastika Maney and Ntokozo Dladla