Professor Suren Singh joined the academic realm of Durban University of Technology in September 1997 when he assumed the position of lecturer at the former M.L. Sultan Technikon. His arrival ignited the spark of curiosity and discovery which resulted in a much-awaited impetus to research at the then Technikon. Within five years, he established a core research group in Industrial Biotechnology and achieved a Y2- NRF rating in 2002; a C1- NRF rating in 2007 and 2012; and a B3- NRF rating in 2018.
In 2000, Prof Singh was selected as one of 13 participants worldwide from developing countries to complete a course on Industrial Biotechnology at the German Centre for Biotechnology in Braunschweig. His research experience spans over two decades and has endeavored to push the boundaries of science and technology, putting DUT at the forefront of scientific development with numerous “world firsts” with his hot loving fungus Thermomyces lanuginosus, the genome sequence being one of them.
In the duration of 1998 – 2006 he advanced from lecturer to Full Professor and has served as the Head of the Department of Biotechnology and Food Technology within the faculty for more than 10 years (since 2000). Prof Singh concurrently served as Acting Executive Dean of the then Faculty of Engineering, Science and the Built Environment for a term of 19 months (2004 – 2006). In his capacity 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 placed his department at research dominance within the Faculty of Applied Sciences and DUT for more than a decade.
His bold initiatives and funding drives ensured the acquisition of outstanding infrastructure and equipment at DUT. To date, he has secured 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 remarkable acquisition created a home to multiple state-of-the-art laboratories for his Department. This demonstrated his limitless leadership and strong commitment to both undergraduate and postgraduate support and success.
Professor Singh has developed and maintained mutually benefitting networks and collaborative partnerships with numerous national and international scientists from Austria, Germany, Portugal, United States, Slovakia, Australia, Brazil, India, Malaysia, Sweden and China. This paved his pathway of research successes and his NRF Bilateral agreements with Sweden (2006 – 2009) and China (2008 – 2014) valued in excess of R1.5 million, are testament to this. His collaboration with Prof Z Wang since 2008 to date has proved to be one of the most productive in South Africa, yielding more than 20 publications. In 2019, he became affiliated with the BRICS project team.
As an internationally recognized researcher, Professor Singh has an impressive publication track record in established scientific journals (IF average > 3) with related expertise in Enzyme Technology, and with 100 papers published in international journals since 1998. He procured an H-index of 34 and an i10 index of 62. As a research leader, he is a confident and frequent presenter, having presented papers at 52 international conferences across the globe as well as at 51 national and regional conference meetings. In his drive to build research capacity at DUT, he has hosted and supervised 14 postdoctoral candidates and successfully supervised and graduated 12 Doctoral and 25 Master’s students. Currently, he is supervising 2 Master’s and 3 Doctoral candidates.
In cognizance of his NRF rating and research achievements for the period 2005 – 2008, Prof Singh was the recipient of 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). In addition, 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 possesses an intense passion for road cycling and has completed 12 Cape Cycle Tours, 11 Amashovas, two Maluti Double 90s, as well as several national cycling races.
Professor Singh earned his degrees of Doctor of Philosophy in Microbiology, Master of Science in Microbiology and a Bachelor of Science Honours in Microbiology, at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. He deeply values the vision and mission of the Durban University of Technology and will continue the impactful work of the faculty; whose thriving research portfolio complements a longstanding commitment to excellence in teaching and learning.