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Prof Cristina Trois awarded SARChI Research Chair in Waste and Climate

Prof Cristina Troir, Dean of the School of Engineering at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, added yet another accolade to her impressive academic career in August 2018 when she was awarded the inaugural SARChI Research Chair in Waste and Climate.

A National Research Foundation initiative, the SARChI (South African Research Chairs Initiative) programme was designed to attract and retain research excellence and innovation at universities, science councils and national research facilities. It also aims to improve South Africa’s international research and innovation competitiveness in a way that responds to the country’s social and economic challenges.

An acclaimed and widely respected subject expert, Trois has broken a number of glass ceilings throughout her career, including when she became the first woman professor and then the first dean of engineering at UKZN.

She has also initiated the university’s “Engineering is a Girl Thing” a programme to attract more female students into engineering and science.

Born and educated in Italy, she moved to South Africa in 1998 and has been working at UKZN since 1999. She holds an MScEng (summa cum laude) and a PhD in Environmental Engineering from the Department of GeoEngineering and Environmental Technology (DIGITA) of Cagliari University (Italy). She has been a Professional Engineer (Italy) since 1997.

A C2 rated scientist with the NRF, her main fields of expertise are environmental and geo-engineering, waste management, wastewater treatment, renewable energy from waste and greenhouse gas control from zero waste in Africa and developing countries.

Her main research objective is to develop effective solutions to environmental problems and promote sustainable development. To this end, her research focus has evolved from the control, management and treatment of landfill emissions to the development of zero-waste models to assist local authorities in decision-making about the effective and innovative use of waste as a resource. Her research outputs were used as a feasibility framework for the first landfill-gas-to-electricity Clean Development Mechanism project in Africa, sponsored by the World Bank, which allows the Durban municipality to produce 10 MW of electricity from waste.

Prof Trois is the co-founder of the CRECHE-Centre for Research in Environmental, Coastal and Hydrological Engineering.

She developed and has successfully coordinated the UKZN Master Programme in Environmental Engineering since 2001. To date, she has graduated 25 postgraduate students, and an average of 8-10 undergraduate students successfully complete their final-year dissertations under her supervision every year. She has also supervised five exchange students from Cambridge, Imperial College and Dresden universities.

Widely published, she is the author of over 80 peer-reviewed publications (42 in top international peer-reviewed journals), four book chapters and 42 peer-reviewed conference papers. She is on the editorial panel of the Waste Management Journal and the Journal of the South African Institution of Civil Engineering, as well as being a reviewer for several international and local journals and conferences.

One of her career highlights was the creation, with two colleagues, of the Centre for Research in Environmental, Coastal and Hydrological Engineering at UKZN in 2001.

She is a Fellow of the South African Academy of Engineers and the Royal Society of South Africa and an active member of the Global Engineering Deans Council, the Institute of Waste Management of Southern Africa, and is on the managing board of the International Waste Working Group. She plays crucial roles in various international waste, resource management and sustainable development bodies and projects.

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