Prof Eugene Cloete, Vice-Rector for Research, Innovation and Postgraduate Studies at Stellenbosch University (SU), received a National Science and Technology Forum (NSTF)/South32 Award on Thursday (29 June 2017) for his outstanding contribution to research and innovation in South Africa.
Prof Cloete was a winner in the category: Research leading to innovation in a corporate organisation by an individual or a team. He received the award for his teabag water filter intervention, Rotoscope and other innovative projects.
The annual NSTF/South32 award ceremony, which took place in Kempton Park, recognises, celebrates and rewards outstanding excellence in Science, Engineering, Technology (SET) and Innovation in South Africa.
Prof Cloete has pioneered nanotechnology applications in the water industry and has demonstrated the application of nanotechnology, by developing and patenting a water purification filter based on functionalised nanofibers, especially applicable in rural areas. This invention was termed one of 10 world-changing ideas by the Scientific American journal in 2010.
Among his other important water treatment technologies are Rotoscope which is a small device to monitor bio-film or slime found in water and other wet environments as well as a bioreactor for the treatment of wine cellar effluent. He also pioneered solar pasteurisation as a method for disinfecting harvested rainwater.
Prof Cloete is the founding director of two successful water institutes at the University of Pretoria (2004) and SU (2010) respectively. He also founded a network of Water Centres of Excellence in Southern Africa on behalf of the African Union. Acknowledgement for his contribution to policy is reflected in ministerial appointments on the boards of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (2012) and the Water Research Commission (2014).
Prof Cloete's research in the application of nanotechnology in the water industry led to nine patents.
Among the other awards Prof Cloete has received over the years are a Gold Medal from the Academy of Science of South Africa, the South African Academy of Science and Arts' Havenga Prize for Biology, and a Silver Medal from the South African Society for Microbiology. He was also elected as a Fellow of the American Academy for Microbiology, the International Water Association, the Water Institute of South Africa and the Royal Society of South Africa.
Prof Cloete has published numerous peer-reviewed scientific articles, six books and many book chapters, and is also one of the top 50 most cited water scientists in the world.
He supervised and co-supervised many masters and doctoral student over a long period. Many of his students became leading researchers across the world.