James C DU Preez University of The Free State
James C DU Preez University of The Free State, James du Preez obtained his Ph.D. in Microbiology in 1980 from the University of the Orange Free State (UOFS; now University of the Free State (UFS), where he was appointed professor of microbiology in 1988, departmental chairperson in 2002 (serving in this capacity until Dec. 2014) and promoted to senior professor in 2005 in the Department of Microbial, Biochemical & Food Biotechnology. He retired in Dec. 2015 and currently is a research fellow in this department.
Early in his Ph.D. studies he developed an interest in continuous cultures, which was further developed when he completed a major part of his Ph.D. research in the laboratory of Prof. Armin Fiechter at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH), Zürich in 1978. Subsequently he spent short sabbaticals in the Department of Applied Microbiology, Hebrew University, Jerusalem (1984) and the Department of Agricultural Chemistry, National Taiwan University, Taipei (1992). His research is in the field of fermentation biotechnology with a special interest in continuous (chemostat) cultures, yeast physiology and the application of microbial cells for the production of metabolites in submerged culture. The focus has been on the effects of cultivation conditions on growth, product formation and microbial physiology, especially the production of heterologous proteins by recombinant yeasts and aspects pertaining to bioethanol production from starchy and lignocellulosic feedstocks, including xylose fermentation by yeasts. Other research topics have included the production of microbial biomass (single cell protein) and other microbial products such as xylanase, amylase by natural and recombinant yeasts, gibberellin in solid state culture, astaxanthin, high value essential lipid derivatives by filamentous fungi, and a bacterial exotoxin (leukotoxin) of importance for vaccine production. The physiology of Saccharomyces cerevisiae remains an interest, currently focusing on the role of alcohol dehydrogenase isozymes in multiple deletion mutants grown in continuous culture.
He has authored or co-authored about 100 peer-reviewed articles as well as several other papers and book chapters. Currently he is a C1-rated scientist as evaluated by the South African National Research Foundation, having held a B2/B3-rating since 1987 over five consecutive 5-yr evaluation cycles until 2011. He is a recipient of the following awards: (1) UFS Centenary Medal for sustained contribution to the development of research in microbiology and particularly in respect of fermentation (2004), (2) UFS Medal for Research Excellence, (2004), (3) Silver Medal from the South African Society for Microbiology for exceptional achievement (2008), and (4) Award for Service to the Faculty from the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, UFS (2010).
His recent involvement with the science community includes serving in the council of the South African Society for Microbiology (2011 – ), membership of the International Commission for Yeasts (1984 -), joint Editor-in-Chief for Biotechnology for Biofuels (2012 -), an associate editor for World Journal of Microbiology and Biotechnology (2005 – 2015) and a member of the editorial board of FEMS Yeast Research (2001 -). He served as the American Society for Microbiology’s ambassador to South Africa (2011 – 2014), was elected a member of the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf) (2011) and appointed on the Editors Advisory Group of the BioMed Central group of publishers (2013 – 2015) and on the “Applied Life Sciences and Non-Medical Biotechnology” grant evaluation panel of the Scientific Council of the European Research Council (2012 – 2013, 2015 and ).