Professor Alison Lewis

Dean: Faculty of Engineering & the Built Environment

Professor Alison Lewis took up her position as the dean of the Faculty of Engineering & the Built Environment on 1 June 2015 and was appointed for a second five-year term in 2020.

Previously, Professor Lewis was the head of the Department of Chemical Engineering since 2013, and a professor of chemical engineering since 2007. She originally joined the department as a senior lecturer in 1996 after completing her PhD and a postdoctoral fellowship in the Water Research Group in UCT’s Department of Civil Engineering.

Professor Lewis is founder and director of the Crystallisation and Precipitation Research Unit. She has raised more than R64 million in funding for the unit since 2001, supervised 51 master’s and PhD students to graduation, published more than 145 international journal and conference papers, and has established an international research reputation. She received the National Science and Technology Forum’s Engineering Research Capacity Development Award in 2019; the African Water Leadership Award in 2016 and the National Research Foundation President’s ‘Champion of Transformation in Research’ Award in 2010 for her active involvement in training, fostering and mentoring black and female students.

Amongst other achievements, Professor Lewis won the Distinguished Woman Scientist award in both 2012 and 2015 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 since 2010 and has prepared and delivered orations 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.

Since 2018, Professor Lewis has been the convenor of the Vice Chancellor’s Futures Think Tank, a group that is looking at how UCT (and the way we do our work) should change to meet the challenges of a rapidly changing world.

During her undergraduate studies, Professor Lewis 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 (ChemEng) in 1987. After graduating she worked as a process engineer for South African Nylon Spinners. 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 Institution 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.