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Release Date: 20 October, 2021

Distinguished Professor in Future Energy joins WBS

The Faculties of CLM and Science at the University of Witwatersrand (Wits) are proud to announce the joint appointment of Professor Diane Hildebrandt as a Distinguished Professor in Future Energy, working within the Wits Business School (WBS) and the School of Chemistry respectively.

Professor Hildebrandt will specialise in sustainable chemistry research and economic strategy relating to energy needs and technologies. This unprecedented role, a joint position at the African Energy Leadership Centre (AELC), located within WBS and the School of Chemistry (SoC) is set to redefine the boundaries for cross-disciplinary and cross-faculty collaboration, translating research to real world impactful technologies that are environmentally and economically sustainable.

“Professor Hildebrandt’s appointment is an exciting step forward for the AELC. This unique, dual role will pioneer a model of teaching that will ensure the business leaders of tomorrow are able to manage the multifaceted challenges and opportunities on the African continent in a systemic and impactful manner,” says Professor Lwazi Ngubevana, Director of the AELC.

Among her numerous accolades, such as President’s Awards for Research, Professor Hildebrandt is a B1-rated scientist by the National Research Foundation (NRF) and has a long and distinguished career in energy research that has culminated in much recognition by the industry. She is a Chemical Engineering PhD graduate at Wits, a former SARChI Professor of Sustainable Process Engineering at the University, and was previously the Director of the Institute for the Development of Energy for African Sustainability at UNISA.  She also holds many other academic leadership positions such as Distinguished Professor and Director of the International Joint Research Laboratory of New Energy at the Hebei University of Science and Technology (HEBUST) in Shijiazhuang, Distinguished Professor and Director of the New Energy Laboratory at the Zhijiang College of Zhejiang University of Technology, in Hangzhou, China. She is a Member of Council of the University of Johannesburg as well as working in numerous industrial research groups. She has authored and co-authored just under 200 scientific papers, including an invited paper in Science Magazine, the peer-reviewed academic journal of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and one of the world's top academic journals, and further, has supervised over 100 postgraduate students.

Prof Hildebrandt is particularly interested in the application of her research towards improving the lives of those who do not have access to energy and clean water. This involves working with multidisciplinary teams to understand the social, economic and technological barriers to the adoption of new technologies.  Her approach to research is both academic and entrepreneurial.

“We are privileged to have someone of Prof Hildebrandt’s calibre join the AELC and School of Chemistry at this critical juncture in our continent’s history, and we are excited for this pioneering collaboration to reach its exceptional potential,” says Professor Dean Brady, Head the School of Chemistry.

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