Veena Sahajwalla

International award-winning scientist, engineer and ‘Eco Alchemist'

Scientia Professor Veena Sahajwalla, “Eco Alchemist”, is one of the world’s leading innovators in the field of sustainable materials use, especially as it relates to carbon, and an international award-winning scientist and engineer.

She 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.

ARC Laureate Professor Veena Sahajwalla FTSE is one of the world’s leading innovators in the field of sustainable materials use, especially as it relates to carbon. Her purposefully industry-integrated research program has resulted in a world-first, patented, environmentally-friendly process called Polymer Injection Technology for recycling end-of-life plastics/rubber in electric arc furnace steelmaking; resulting in the production of so-called ‘Green Steel’.

Developed in close collaboration with OneSteel (now Arrium), Polymer Injection Technology is an exemplar of where research and industry, working together, have made a valuable contribution to enhancing the efficiency of manufacturing, whilst simultaneously diverting end-of-life materials from landfill.

Moreover, as founding Director of the Sustainable Materials Research & Technology Centre at UNSW (SMaRT@UNSW), ‘Green Steel’ is part of Professor Sahajwalla’s broader ‘Green Materials’ agenda which seeks to not only divert waste from landfill, but to use it for production of high-value products and/or processes that consume less natural resources.

Veena has received many international and Australian honours, awards and prizes during her career, far too numerous to list here. The most recent includes the 2015 Westpac 100 Women of Influence – Innovation Winner, Australian Research Council (ARC) Laureate Fellow 2014 and The Howe Memorial Lecture Award, Association for Iron & Steel Technology, Pittsburgh, USA, 2013.

Veena has delivered keynote and invited addresses at some of the most prestigious research gatherings and conferences in the world and has lectured in Argentina, Canada, China, India, Japan, 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.

Veena 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 has been selected as a Honorary Fellow of the Institute of Engineers, Australia.

While already well-known and highly respected within her own sphere, Veena 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.

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