Scientia Professor Veena Sahajwalla, ‘Eco Alchemist’, is one of the world’s leading innovators in the field of sustainable materials use and an international award-winning scientist and engineer.
Sahajwalla is founding director of the Sustainable Materials Research & Technology (SMaRT) Centre at the University of New South Wales. Her research has resulted in a world-first, environmentally friendly process for recycling end-of-life plastics/rubber in electric arc furnace steelmaking, resulting in the production of ‘Green Steel’. This work is making a contribution towards creating innovative, green manufacturing, science and technology for the building and construction industries as well as consumer products.
Sahajwalla is passionate about mining the mountains of rubbish and waste materials produced by modern society and re-using them in industrial processes or to create new goods.
Sahajwalla is also an Australian Research Council Georgina Sweet Laureate Fellow. This fellowship allows Sahajwalla to both undertake a dedicated research program that transforms toxic electronic waste (e-waste) into value added metal and alloys. As well as implement ‘Science 50:50’, a program designed to inspire and encourage women to pursue careers in science and technology.
Sahajwalla’s research has been recognised with national and international awards. In 2015 Sahajwalla was the Innovation Winner of the Australian Financial Review–Wespac 100 Women of Influence awards, and was listed as one of Australia’s Top 100 Most Influential Engineers by Engineers Australia. In 2012 she was named Overall Winner of the Australian Innovation Challenge, and was presented with a Banksia Award and the GE Eco Innovation Award for Individual Excellence. While already well-known and highly respected within her own sphere, Sahajwalla became one of Australia’s best-known scientists and inventors through her regular appearances as a judge on the long-running ABC TV series The New Inventors.
Sahajwalla has delivered keynote and invited speeches at some of the most prestigious research gatherings and conferences across the world and has lectured in Argentina, Canada, China, India, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, South Africa, Sweden, UK and USA. She has also published more than 250 refereed papers in leading journals and conference proceedings in her field.
Sahajwalla completed her Master’s degree at the University of British Columbia and her PhD at The University of Michigan. She was elected as a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE) in 2007 and a Fellow of the Institution of Engineers, Australia, in 2005. In 2015 she was selected as an Honorary Fellow of the Institute of Engineers, Australia.