“I enjoy research,” says Francois du Preez. “It’s satisfying to get good results, but it’s even more satisfying to work hard for something, struggle and then succeed. It’s not easy, but because it’s not easy, it’s even more worthwhile when you eventually crack it.”
Du Preez is currently doing trials on biological control of false codling moth for his doctorate. His master’s also dealt with biocontrol. “I want my research to be relevant to the industry — the industry is funding my project and I want to give back by providing research that’s relevant to current problems.”
Du Preez enrolled for his undergraduate degree in Conservation Ecology and Entomology directly after matric. “After I graduated, I thought of myself as a walking Wikipedia book but without many skills,” he remembers. He had a keen interest in computer systems and managed to land a job at Donkerhoek Data.
The combination of software development and client support was rewarding but eventually Du Preez returned to Stellenbosch University to study further. “I’m very lucky to be where I am now and that I have the opportunity to write articles and to mentor students and it feels like what I’m doing has a purpose.”
The false codling moth project still has nearly two years to go. Du Preez hasn’t yet decided what comes next. He thinks he would like to become a consultant, but he has also been very happy in academia. “I enjoy working with people and I enjoy teaching. I like talking to farmers and telling them that we’re working on issues they are experiencing.”
Image by Peartree Photography.