UCT appoints first female dean of EBE

04 May 2015 | Story by Newsroom

UCT has appointed Professor Alison Lewis as dean of the Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment (EBE) – the first woman to receive such an appointment at UCT. She will take up her new position on 1 June 2015.

In his announcement of this appointment to the campus community on Friday, 24 April 2015, Vice-Chancellor Dr Max Price said: "Known for her ingenuity and innovative approach, Professor Lewis has facilitated projects such as the new curriculum project and the assistant lecturer programme, which enables postgraduate students to develop teaching skills that could make them potentially employable in academic positions one they've completed their studies. She has also championed transformation initiatives by establishing four new academic posts in the department, three of which have been filled by black South Africans.

"EBE plays a critical role in working towards solving the global problems of the 21st century – water, energy and food security."

Below is a summary of Lewis' career, from the letter of 24 April:

Professor Lewis has been head of the Department of Chemical Engineering since 2013, and a professor of chemical engineering since 2007. She has moved up the department's ranks since July 1996, when she was appointed a senior lecturer. Prior to this, Professor Lewis was a post-doctoral fellow in the Water Research Group in UCT's Civil Engineering Department.

Professor Lewis is founder and director of the Crystallisation and Precipitation Research Unit. She has raised R52 million in funding for the unit since 2001, supervised 37 master's and PhD students to graduation, published more than 120 international journal and conference papers and has established an international research reputation. She received the National Research Foundation President's 'Champion of Transformation in Research' Award in 2012 for her active involvement in training, fostering and mentoring black and female students.

Amongst other achievements, Professor Lewis won the 2012 Distinguished Woman Scientist award from the Ministry of Science and Technology for her outstanding contribution to building South Africa's scientific and research knowledge base.

Professor Lewis has also been the university orator for the past five years and has done sterling work in preparing and delivering citations for recipients of honorary degrees, ranging from actor Antony Sher, artist William Kentridge and former Reserve Bank governor, Tito Mboweni, to esteemed specialist in infectious diseases, Salim Abdool Karim.

Professor Lewis took a year's break during her undergraduate studies, and was the education officer for the 1984/85 UCT Students Representative Council. She graduated from UCT with a BSc (ChemEng) in 1985 and an MSc (Chem Eng) in 1987.

After working as a process engineer for South African Nylon Spinners, Professor Lewis studied towards her PhD (Civil Eng) at UCT, graduating in 1993. During this time she was the Editor of Upfront, the journal of the Cape Democrats, a United Democratic Front affiliate.

Professor Lewis is a professional engineer, registered by the Engineering Council of South Africa. She is also a fellow of the British Institute of Chemical Engineers (FIChemE), the South African Institute of Chemical Engineers, the South African Academy of Engineering, the South African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy and UCT's College of Fellows. Professor Lewis is also a member of the Academy of Science of South Africa.

Media release issued by Pat Lucas, Manager: UCT Communications and Media Liaison Department. Email: pat.lucas@uct.ac.za

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