SU Dean of Science honoured for work in water research and management

 Stellenbosch University Dean of Science, microbiologist and inventor of the teabag water filter, Prof Eugene Cloete, is the only representative from Africa to be inducted into the new Fellows Programme of the International Water Association (IWA), which is the largest international association for water professionals. It recognises unusual and outstanding distinction in the water profession.

A reception at the IWA World Water Congress in Montreal, Canada, last week celebrated the launch of the programme and the newly elected 34 Fellows. They include researchers, water resource managers, inventors and academics from all over the world, including Japan, the USA, Britain, Mexico, Germany, Spain and the Netherlands.

“It is an honour to represent Africa in such a way,” Prof Cloete says.

According to the IWA, election to IWA Fellow grade one is “one of the highest honours the Association can bestow on an individual”. “It is conferred by the IWA Board of Directors on a person with an extraordinary record of accomplishments that has contributed importantly to the advancement of application of water science and technology and that has brought the realisation of significant value to society,” according to the IWA.

The new IWA Fellows Programme enlists their commitment and skills in advancing the knowledge and practice of water management through the IWA. IWA Fellows are known for their guidance and leadership in the continually evolving world of water science, technology and management. They are active administrators for IWA, demonstrating the very best of members in terms of continuing contributions to the profession.

Prof Cloete currently serves on the IWA Biofilm Specialist Group, and is a past vice-president and board member of the IWA. He is a member of the Coca-Cola World Water expert panel and is chairperson of the Academy of Science of South Africa committee on poverty and technology.

He has been dean of the Faculty of Science at Stellenbosch University since 2009, and is the driving force behind the recently established Stellenbosch University Water Institute. He was also the founding director of a similar Water Institute at the University of Pretoria. He has promoted 78 MSc students and 25 PhD students at the University of Pretoria and Stellenbosch University.

He is not only a formidable academic leader, but as a B1 scientist, as rated by the National Research Foundation (NRF), he enjoys considerable international acclaim among research fellows for work relating to water quality, water resource management, nanotechnology in water applications, public health, food microbiology and the purification of effluent and waste products from the environment. Prof Cloete has nine patents to his name, and has published 122 scientific papers in leading journals. He serves on the editorial boards of several scientific journals and is the editor or co-author of five books in the field of microbiology, water treatment and nanotechnology.

Prof Cloete is regularly invited to attend international conferences as a keynote speaker, and is also a motivational speaker of note on topics such as innovation and creativity.

He is a previous recipient of the Havenga Prize (for biology) from the “Suid-Afrikaanse Akademie vir Wetenskap en Kuns” (“South African Academy of Science and Art”) and received the University of Pretoria Chancellor’s Award for Research in 2009. He is a senior fellow of the Water Institute of South Africa, and a fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology.