Professor Suren Singh assumed the position of lecturer in September 1997 at the former M.L. Sultan Technikon (now DUT) when research was still at its infancy. His arrival brought a much-awaited impetus to research at the then Technikon. Within five years, he was able to establish a core research group in Industrial Biotechnology and achieved a Y2 – NRF rating in 2002 and a C1 – NRF rating in 2007 and 2013.
In 2000, Prof Singh was one of 13 participants chosen worldwide from developing countries to attend a course on Industrial Biotechnology at the German Centre for Biotechnology in Braunschweig. His research over the past 15 years has always attempted to push the boundaries, and his group has produced numerous “world firsts” with his hot loving fungus Thermomyces lanuginosus, the genome sequence being one of them.
In a duration of six years (1998 – 2006), he moved up from lecturer to Full Professor and has served as the Head of the Department of Biotechnology and Food Technology at DUT for more than 10 years (since 2000) and as Acting Executive Dean of the then Faculty of Engineering, Science and the Built Environment for 19 months (2004 – 2006). Through his position as Head, he has contributed significantly to creating a culture of research, garnered substantial external support for research projects, significantly increased the number of postgraduate students, improved staff qualifications and catalysed research output. This has placed this department as the lead research department within the Faculty of Applied Sciences and DUT for more than a decade.
Through his own initiatives and funding drives, he has ensured the acquisition of excellent infrastructure and equipment at DUT. To date, he has attracted over R20 million in funding from the DUT, the National Research Foundation (NRF), the Department of Science and Technology and other international and industrial sources. His recent acquisition of more than R20 million through the DoHET Infrastructure funding together with DUT to construct state-of-the-art labs for his Department demonstrates his leadership.
Networking with numerous national and international scientists from Austria, Germany, Portugal, United States, Slovakia, Australia, Brazil, India, Malaysia, Sweden, China, has been his strength, and his NRF Bilateral agreements with Sweden (2006 – 2009) and China (2008 – 2014) valued at more than R1.5 million, are testimony to this.
Professor Singh has consistently built up an impressive publication track record in high impact factor journals (IF average > 2), with more than 50 papers published in international journals since 1999 with an H-index of 18 and an i10 index of 25. As a research leader, he has presented papers at 32 International conferences across the globe as well as at numerous national and regional conference meetings. In terms of building research capacity at DUT, he has hosted and supervised 13 postdoctoral candidates and successfully supervised and graduated 5 Doctoral and 15 Master’s students. Currently, he is supervising 18 Master’s and 3 Doctoral candidates.
In recognition of his NRF rating and research activity for the period 2005 – 2008, Prof Singh was given the Vice-Chancellor’s Research Award as well as DUT’s Researcher of the Year award for 2009/2010.
Prof Singh has held the positions of Vice President (2004 – 2006), President (2006 – 2009) and Treasurer (2009 – 2010) of the South African Society for Microbiology (SASM). He served as Chair of the KZN branch of SASM for seven years (2000 – 2007).
He is an active member of several national and international scientific professional bodies and has served as chair of numerous regional, national and international conferences held in South Africa since 2000.
In addition to high-level catalysis, Prof Singh has completed several marathons, including the Comrades Marathon in 2002. He also has an intense passion for road cycling and has completed nine Cape Argus PicknPay Cycle Tour races as well as several national cycling races.