Lily Pereg, a microbial ecologist at the University of New England in Armidale, Australia, and her sister, Pyrhia Sarussi of Israel, were found dead in Argentina, The Associated Press reported yesterday (January 27).
The sisters were visiting Sarussi’s son, Gilad Pereg, when they went missing January 12. The women’s bodies were found Saturday (January 26) next to his home near Mendoza. Gilad Pereg has been arrested on homicide charges, as one of the sisters was shot three times. Autopsies are currently being done to determine the cause of death of each woman.
When the women went missing, their family started a GoFundMe page to raise money to locate them. “We the family, are shocked,” it now states about the potential murder of the sisters by Sarussi’s son and says the family is focused on bringing the sisters’ bodies home.
Both Pereg and Sarussi were born in Israel. Pereg earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Israel and then moved to Australia in the 1990s to do her doctoral studies at the University of Sydney. She moved to the University of New England in the early 2000s, where she focused on plant and soil microbiology, and was made full professor just days before leaving for Argentina.
“We can only pay tribute to Lily as a wonderful person and a true scientist with unlimited potential, so sadly cut short—a full professor for only 10 days,” Ivan Kennedy, emeritus professor of Agricultural Chemistry at the University of Sydney, tells The Armidale Express.
Along with her academic duties, Pereg was also chair of the soil, microbiology, and biodiversity subdivision of the European Geosciences Union. Pereg “was a dear colleague, friend and source of inspiration to us,” the Soil System Sciences Division of the European Geosciences Union wrote on Twitter. “This loss leaves a large void in our community.”