Christian Pirk

Christian Pirk profile photo

Prof Christian Pirk is a Professor and heads up the Social Insects Research Group (SIRG) in the Department of Zoology and Entomology at the University of Pretoria (UP), South Africa. Born in Berlin, Germany, he studied Biology and Mathematics at the
Technical University Berlin before finishing his PhD at Rhodes University, South Africa in 2002. His research focuses on the behavioural and chemical ecology of social insects, in particular honeybees. He has a global network of collaborations. On the
continent Prof Pirk has strong links to Kenya, in particular the International Centre for Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe). Beyond that, he maintains strong ties to Europe, as well as to North America and Asia. The link to Thailand and China is one of the longest collaborations, which he started during his early post-doctoral time in Würzburg. He is part of a global project on the mating behaviour of Small hive beetle, an invasive pest of honey bees outside sub-saharan Africa, with collaborators in Switzerland, USA, Canada, Brazil, Australia, Italy and Kenya, funded by the Swiss National Science foundation. He is a member of the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf) and serves as a member on the Academy’s Council and has served several times on ASSAf’s Membership Advisory Committee. Prof Pirk served as the South African science advisor on a InterAcademy Partnership (IAP) and the Network of African Science Academies (NASAC) study (2018/19) to examine the implications of neonicotinoid insecticide use for ecosystem services and sustainable agriculture in Africa. He is also a member of the African Academy of
Sciences (AAS) and serves on the Education and Gender subcommittee as well as the Membership Advisory subcommittee. He is a council member of the International Society of Chemical Ecology and one of the organisers for the 2021 annual meeting. Prof Pirk
is an executive committee member of COLOSS, a network of more than 1800 bee researchers globally. He was one of the panelists for the first joint conference of COLOSS and SOLATINA, the latter being a Central and South American focused association of bee
researchers. He is actively involved in the South Africa - Sweden University Forum (SASUF) and currently participates in transdisciplinary workshops between UP and the University of Sussex about “South Africa’s Green Transition: Exploring constraints and
policies for the next decade”. To date he has graduated 20 PhD students, mainly from Africa but also from Germany and China. He serves on editorial boards for the Journal of Insect Behaviour and Scientific Reports.