(R-L) Paolo Cuculi, Ambassador of Italy to South Africa and Professor Cristina Trois. Picture supplied.

Durban - The South African Research Chair (SARCHi) in Waste and Climate Change and University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) academic, Professor Cristina Trois has been 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.

The honour was conferred by Paolo Cuculi, Ambassador of Italy to South Africa, on the occasion of the Italy-South Africa Joint Research Programme (ISARP) Workshop held at UKZN on Wednesday.

The national chivalric Ordine al Merito del Lavoro was founded in 1923 by King Vittorio Emanuele III of Italy, and recognises citizens who have been ‘singularly meritorious’ in agriculture, industry and commerce, crafts, lending and insurance.

Trois, who was the first female Dean and Head of UKZN’s School of Engineering, is originally from Sardinia, Italy and has been an academic at UKZN for more than 20 years. 

Trois has made considerable contributions to research and teaching in her field of Environmental Engineering, as well as to innovations around waste management and wastewater engineering and treatment in eThekwini.

Trois has spearheaded initiatives such as ‘Engineering is a Girl Thing’ to encourage young women to pursue Science and Engineering, and was a first runner-up in the 2016 Department of Science and Technology’s (DST) Women in Science Awards (WISA).

Some of her great achievements include the development of the innovative ‘cellular method’ of landfilling adopted in Durban’s landfill sites, her contribution to the first African, World Bank-funded ‘landfill-gas-to-electricity project’ through which the city of Durban produces 10MW of electricity from waste, and her current work on the multi-national research endeavour: the Hub for the African City of the Future.

Trois is a C2 National Research Foundation-rated researcher and is also a member of the International Waste Working Group (IWWG)-Southern Africa Regional Branch, coordinated by the United Nations Centre for Regional Development.

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