Interdisciplinary Summer School 2017

Prof Diane Hildebrandt

Diane Hildebrandt is the co-Director for the research Unit MaPS (Material and Process Synthesis) at Unisa, South Africa.  She obtained her BSc, MSc and PhD from the University of the Witwatersrand. She has authored or co-authored over 110 scientific papers, including an invited paper in Science, and has supervised over 75 postgraduate students. She has been both a plenary speaker and invited speaker at numerous local and international conferences.

Prof Hildebrandt received the President’s Award of the Foundation for Research and Development in 1996, as well as the Distinguished Researcher Award of the University of the Witwatersrand. In 1997 she became the first engineer to be awarded the Meiring Naudé Medal of the Royal Society of South Africa. In 2000 she became, jointly, the first academic to be awarded the Bill Neale-May Gold Medal by the South African Institute of Chemical Engineers. In 2002 she was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of South Africa and also received the Vice Chancellor’s Research Award of the University of the Witwatersrand.

In 2005 Prof Hildebrandt was recognised as a world leader in her area of research when she was awarded an A rating by the National Research Foundation and was also elected to the Academy of Sciences of South Africa, and in 2006 to the Academy of Engineering of South Africa. In 2009 she was the Winner of the Distinguished Woman Scientist Award of the Department of Science and Technology of South Africa, and she was also Winner of the Continental African Union Scientific Awards for the category Basic Science, Technology and Innovation.

Prof Hildebrandt and her co-workers were finalists in 2010 in the 10XE Competition run by American Institute of Chemical Engineers, which recognised innovations internationally which are likely to have a ten-fold impact on energy efficiency. In the same year she and her co-workers were also the winners of the National Science and Technology Award for NGOs in recognition of the research and implementation of these ideas. In 2010 she was awarded the ASSAf Gold Medal for “Science in Society”.

In 1998 Prof Hildebrandt became the first woman in South Africa to be made a full professor of chemical engineering when she was appointed as the Unilever Professor of Reaction Engineering at the University of the Witwatersrand. In 2003 she became the first woman professor of chemical technology in the Netherlands when she was appointed as a part-time Professor of Process Synthesis, at the University of Twente in the The Netherlands. Her current appointment is to the South African Research Chair of Sustainable Process Engineering.

She has worked at the Chamber of Mines, Sasol and the University of Potchefstroom and has spent a sabbatical at Princeton University in the USA.

Prof Hildebrandt’s research area is the design of energy efficient processes and equipment, with a view to reducing carbon dioxide emissions from chemical processes. Some of these ideas have been successfully implemented, and the COMPS group (the Centre Of Materials and Process Synthesis, at the University of the Witwatersrand) designed and commissioned the Golden Nest FT pilot plant in Baoji, China. They were responsible for the conceptual and reactor design for the Linc FT plant in Chinchilla in Australia.

Last modified: Tue Aug 22 09:44:51 SAST 2017