Cape Town — Professor Cristina Trois, the University of KwaZulu-Natal's (UKZN) first woman professor, first dean of engineering and South African Research Chair in Waste and Climate Change (SARChI), has been honoured with the attendant title of Cavaliere del lavoro for receiving the 'Ordine al Merito del Lavoro' (Order of Merit for Labour).
Professor Trois, originally from Sardinia Italy and who has been an academic at UKZN for over two decades, received the award from His Excellency, Paolo Cuculi, Ambassador of Italy to South Africa. It is the highest honour citizens who have been 'singularly meritorious' in agriculture, industry and commerce, crafts, lending and insurance can receive from the Italian Republic.
The knighthood is the latest accolade for Trois who holds a PhD in environmental and geo-engineering from the University of Cagliari, Italy. Her research was used as a feasibility framework for the first landfill-gas-to-electricity Clean Development Mechanism project in Africa, sponsored by the World Bank, writes Mail & Guardian, allowing the Durban municipality to produce 10 MW of electricity from waste.
Trois, who pioneered the "Engineering is a Girl Thing" programme to attract more female students into engineering and science, also has a passion for art. Her brainchild, the 'Waste to Art as a Means of Social Upliftment' themed cocktail evening held at the KZNSA Art Gallery in November last year, saw UKZN students dressed in eco-friendly designs created out of recycled materials by final-year Durban University of Technolog fashion design colleagues, Inside Education writes. Trois was also behind the Neptune Project, a waste management initiative of SARChI to create climate change awareness and its impact on the environment through art, IOL reports.