Dean and Head of UKZN’s School of Engineering, Professor Cristina Trois, is the first runner-up in the Department of Science and Technology’s (DST) annual Women in Science Awards (WISA), in the Distinguished Women in Science category.
The awards recognise and reward excellence, and profile notable female scientists in South Africa as models for younger generations.
The theme for WISA 2016 is Women’s Empowerment and its link to sustainable development.
The awards were presented as part of the DST’s celebration of Women’s Month, with Trois nominated for the Distinguished SA Women in Science Award.
‘I am honoured to have been a finalist among so many incredible women,’ said Trois.
As a female professor and the first woman Dean of Engineering at UKZN, Trois is acutely aware of the role she plays as an example to young women in Science and Engineering. Through her nomination, she hopes to further establish the ‘Engineering is a Girl Thing’ programme to attract more young women into Engineering and Science.
Said Trois: ‘Featuring as a runner-up for such a prestigious award is not only a personal recognition, but also highlights the transdisciplinary nature of Environmental Engineering, positioning engineers as equal contributors to the advancement of knowledge as scientists.’
Trois, originally from Sardinia, has been at UKZN for 20 years and is renowned in her field of Environmental Engineering, with specialised focus on Waste Management and Water/Wastewater Engineering and Treatment.
She has consistently made breakthroughs in her male-dominated field, and is lauded by colleagues for her efficiency, compassion, patience, cheerfulness and ability to motivate staff and deftly resolve conflicts.
A milestone for Trois was her creation, together with two colleagues, of the multidisciplinary Centre for Research in Environmental, Coastal and Hydrological Engineering (CRECHE) in 2001. She also established a state-of-the-art analytical laboratory for Environmental Engineering research.
Trois prioritises research, scholarship, research-exchange programmes and accelerating young engineers and scientists practice/research. She is a C2 NRF-rated researcher with numerous publications to her name, and is an Editor and reviewer for numerous journals and institutions.
She takes her expertise beyond the classroom and laboratory, being recognised for breakthrough contributions to waste science, resource recovery and energy from waste, in particular her development of the innovative ‘cellular method’ of land-filling currently adopted in Durban’s landfill sites. She contributed to the first leachate treatment plant in South Africa, and to the first African, World Bank-funded landfill-gas-to-electricity project, whereby the city of Durban produces 10MW of electricity from waste. She is also working on the upcoming multi-national research endeavour: the Hub for the African City of the Future.
Trois develops academic course work, and also currently supervises 20 postgraduate students and researchers. So far she has graduated 45 postgraduate students in total. She regularly receives awards for research and academic excellence at UKZN, and participates in groups and organisations such as engineering councils, royal societies, waste management institutes, and the United Nations. Internationally she has collaborators in Italy, Britain, India, Germany, France and Switzerland.
The successful development of a dynamic multidisciplinary research group, the establishment of scholarship programmes, the creation of a centre of excellence, the on-going opportunities to scientifically collaborate at national and international level with experts of great calibre are a clear reflection of Trois’s ability to stimulate, initiate and supervise research with passion and dedication.