Daily News

UKZN’S oldest Spring Graduation graduate bags a PHD at third try

- NOKUTHULA MABUZA nokuthula.mabuza@inl.co.za

THE oldest graduate at the University of Kwazulu-natal’s 2022 Spring Graduation said that his age at the completion of his studies was largely a reflection of poor strategy and time management.

Dr Chris Brouckaert, 74, completed a PHD in chemical engineerin­g post-retirement at his third attempt.

Brouckaert began his academic career in 1967, when he registered as an undergradu­ate alongside the late Professor Chris Buckley, who was his mentor.

Buckley headed UKZN’S world-renowned Pollution Research Group (now the Water, Sanitation, Hygiene

Research and Developmen­t Centre) for many years until his untimely death in 2021. He would become Brouckaert’s lifelong colleague and mentor.

After completing his undergradu­ate degree in 1978, Brouckaert registered for postgradua­te studies, but he was unable to complete his studies at the time. He had taken a position as a lecturer in chemical engineerin­g at the then University of Natal.

In 1990, Brouckaert was offered a contract research post at the Pollution Research Group. He worked there for 30 years until his retirement in 2021.

Brouckaert’s dissertati­on is based on a series of five papers published in

Water SA that set out a framework and methodolog­y for the mathematic­al modelling of bio-processes that have significan­t interactio­ns with inorganic aqueous physicoche­mical processes.

The papers used represent a distillati­on of modelling experience of the Water Research Group at UCT and the WASH R&D Centre at UKZN, over some 15 years of collaborat­ion.

Commenting on Brouckaert’s bravery and dedication, the academic leader for chemical engineerin­g at UKZN, Professor David Lokhat, said Brouckaert’s PHD was well received by his examiners. He said Brouckaert was instrument­al in developing a number of undergradu­ate courses, lectured within the programme, mentored and guided many postgradua­te students on water-related projects.

“One of the examiners commented that he had never before granted a doctorate without recommendi­ng any adjustment­s, a testament to the excellent body of work that Brouckaert had been involved in for a long time at UKZN.

“We can only hope that some of his talent has rubbed off on the next generation. This PHD has been a long time coming for Chris, but I imagine nonetheles­s most fulfilling for a career dedicated to chemical engineerin­g.”

 ?? ?? UKZN’S oldest graduate, Dr Chris Brouckaert with his wife, Heidi.
UKZN’S oldest graduate, Dr Chris Brouckaert with his wife, Heidi.

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