Durban scientist’s work into water preservation reaches across the sea
Doctor Sheena Kumari Kuttan Pillai specialises in the preservation of the most valuable liquid in everyone’s lives – water. Pillai has done and continues to do high quality and internationally acclaimed research on how the substance that is vital for all known forms of life can be preserved and used for other purposes.
A senior researcher at the Institute for Water and Wastewater Technology, Durban University of Technology. Pillai’s research is on biological wastewater treatment, surface water monitoring, and bio-energy production. Pillai is heading the wastewater research group at the Institute and is a co-activity leader for several national and international projects. She is the South African coordinator for a multi-institutional collaborative project between South Africa and the Netherlands funded through the Orange Knowledge Programme. She is also an African representative for Global Water Microbial Consortium initiative by Oklahoma University, USA and is engaged in active collaborations with many other leading national and international institutions.
With a National Research Foundation C3-rating, Pillai is the author of about 49 peer-reviewed publications, including papers in leading international journals such as Nature Microbiology, BioResource Technology and Critical Reviews in Biotechnology. Pillai has also co-authored seven book chapters and four technical reports. She has successfully mentored five postdoctoral fellows, supervised four Ph.D., five Master’s and 15 BSc honours students.
She currently supervises 11 Ph.D. and 12 master’s students. Pillai is a member of the reference group and a panel member for a number of Water Research Commission and NRF projects. She is an external examiner for several universities, an academic member and African representative for global water microbial consortium. She is a reviewer for more than 15 International Institute for Scientific Information journals and a professional member of the SA Council for Natural Scientific Professions, an academic member of International Water Association and the Water Institute of Southern Africa. Durban scientist’s work into water preservation reaches across the sea.