Prof Cristina Trois, an internationally recognised engineer leader, researcher and Cavaliere dell’Ordine della Stella d’Italia/Knight of the Order of the Star of Italy, has been appointed as the new director of the Centre for Renewable and Sustainable Energy Studies (CRES) at Stellenbosch University (SU) and officially took up the position on 1 October 2023. She has over 25 years of international experience in environmental engineering.

The CRES advances a sustainable future through world-class renewable and sustainable energy research, advisory services, awareness campaigns and training programmes.

Prof Trois is delighted to be the next director of the CRES. “I am extremely honoured to serve as Director of the Centre for Renewable and Sustainable Energy Studies at Stellenbosch University. Working alongside our partners and collaborators, we will continue contributing to the development of critically needed skills, technology innovation and cutting-edge research in support of the Just Energy and Decarbonisation Transition of our country and the African continent,” she says.

Prof Trois, who is originally from Sardinia, Italy, was the South African Research Chair (SARCHi) in Waste and Climate Change at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) for the past five years and served as Acting Director of the (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) WASH R&D Centre at UKZN. She was also the first female Dean of the School of Engineering at UKZN (2012 to 2018).

She was awarded a Knighthood and attendant title of Cavaliere del Lavoro for receiving the Ordine al Merito del Lavoro (Order of Merit for Labour), the highest honour from the Italian Republic, which was conferred by the Ambassador of Italy to South Africa, Paolo Cuculi, at the Italy-South Africa Joint Research Programme (ISARP) Workshop in 2019.

Prof Trois has made remarkable contributions to research and teaching in her field. Her main fields of expertise are Environmental and Civil Engineering, Waste Management and Climate Change, Sustainable Cities, Waste and Resources Management, Bioenergy, Green and bio-hydrogen, Waste to Energy, Biogas, Water/Wastewater Engineering, Systems Modelling and Decision-support tools, Renewable Energy from waste and GHG control from zero waste in Africa and developing countries, and Circular Economy.

She has spearheaded initiatives such as “Engineering is a Girl Thing” to encourage young women to pursue Science and Engineering; she is the co-founder of the RISE (Rising to the Top) Women Leadership Academy, and she was the first runner-up in the 2016 Department of Science and Technology’s (DST) Women in Science Awards.

Prof Wikus van Niekerk, Dean of the Faculty of Engineering at SU, served as acting director after the previous director, Prof Sampson Mamphweli, pursued other opportunities earlier this year.

Photo: Prof Cristina Trois, new Director of the Center for Renewable and Sustainable Energy Studies.