School of Engineering


UKZN Fellow, Professor Cristina Trois.

Waste and Resources Management Expert Among UKZN’s Newest Fellows

Professor Cristina Trois, South African Research Chair (SARChI) in Waste and Climate Change and interim Acting Director of the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Research and Development (WASH R&D) Centre, was awarded a UKZN Fellowship during the Autumn Graduation ceremonies.

Fellowship of the University is awarded to professors or senior professors in recognition of distinguished academic achievement and the production of high-quality scholarly work that demonstrates originality and creativity.

Trois, UKZN’s first female Dean of the School of Engineering, has been at the University for more than 20 years, making considerable contributions to research and teaching in environmental and sanitation engineering. Over the past two decades she has been the principal investigator and project co-ordinator of a variety of feasibility and R&D waste management projects with municipalities in South Africa and Africa.

The C1 National Research Foundation (NRF)-rated researcher has authored more than 150 publications in high-impact journals and books focused on aspects of environmental and geo-engineering, waste and climate change in sustainable cities, waste and resources management, control, management and treatment of landfill emissions, renewable energy from waste and greenhouse gas control from zero waste in Africa and developing countries, and alternative building materials.

Trois has supervised more than 120 postgraduate students and scholars, developed and co-ordinates the first Master’s Programme in Waste and Resources Management in South Africa, and through her SARChI Chair leads a dynamic research group that specialises in waste and climate change in sustainable African cities; waste and resources management; control, management and treatment of landfill emissions; renewable energy from waste; and climate change mitigation through zero waste in Africa and developing countries.

Trois has driven innovations in waste management, waste minimisation, waste to energy projects, and wastewater engineering and treatment with municipalities in South Africa. She developed the WROSETM Model, an innovative decision-making tool for local authorities, and advises on waste management strategies and waste to energy projects of international governments. She uses her experience to advise national and local government and the private sector on their waste management strategies.

She also works on several international research teams, including chairing the southern Africa region for the International Waste Working Group (IWWG) and the United Nations International Partnership for advancing waste management services of local authorities, and has collaborators in Italy, the United Kingdom, India, Germany, France and Switzerland. Trois is an editor and reviewer for numerous journals and institutions, and a Fellow of the Global Engineering Dean’s Council and active member of the Institute of Waste Management of Southern Africa, the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management in the United Kingdom and the International Federation of Engineering Education Societies.

Trois has established multi-disciplinary research centres and laboratories to focus on environmental engineering research, and developed initiatives that encourage the participation of women and young girls in science and engineering.

Originally from Sardinia, Trois completed her studies in Environmental Engineering at Cagliari University in Italy, graduating summa cum laude. She is a registered professional engineer in the country, and her achievements led to conferment of the title of Dame of the Italian Republic (Order of the Star of Italy) by the President of the Italian Republic for her outstanding contribution to the development of research and human capital in Africa.

Trois has won recognition in South Africa for her efforts – she was a first runner-up for a Department of Science and Innovation Women in Science Award in 2016 and is a Fellow of the South African Academy of Engineers and a Member of the Academy of Science of South Africa.

Words: Christine Cuénod

Photograph: Rajesh Jantilal