Cape Town - UCT professor in Transport Planning and Engineering at the Department of Civil Engineering, Marianne Vanderschuren, has won the Special Annual Theme Award: Basic Science and Sustainable Development at the National Science and Technology Forum (NSTF) South 32 Awards.
Also known as the “Science Oscars”, the awards recognise outstanding contributions to science, engineering and technology and innovation in South Africa.
Vanderschuren, who holds a PhD in intelligent transport systems and an MSc in systems engineering and policy analysis, said her passion for transport started from the age of six, when she would help her father – who owned a driving school – wash his car.
Vanderschuren is now an international leader in her field who has dedicated her career to improving sustainable transport approaches in Africa with a special focus on road traffic, pollution, and more recently, the gender inequity and safety of women.
“I’m still speechless and in disbelief,” she says. “Over the years I’ve tried to balance academic outputs and making a difference in practice. It’s touching that the NSTF recognises this. I’ve also received the most heart-warming messages from former students indicating how proud they are, that I’m paving the way for them. I try to be a role model and to broaden views, one student at a time.”
Vanderschuren – who has recently been elected as the 119th president of the South African Institution of Civil Engineering – is only the third woman president in the institute’s history.
She says her career has been dedicated to ensuring the improvements for vulnerable road users, which saves many lives on the roads, but she is also passionate in seeing “tangible equality in the field of engineering globally and in South Africa”.