Postgraduate Research &
Innovation Symposium (PRIS)

Chris Buckley Memorial Lecture

The Importance of Transdisciplinary Research for Water and Sanitation Transformation


Mr Neil Macleod

Neil Macleod is the former head of water and sanitation at the eThekwini metropolitan municipality. He is currently a member of the Advisory Board of the WASH R&D Centre at UKZN, and a Director and Chair of the Board for Sanergy in Kenya. Mr Macleod is also a sought after consultant on water and sanitation related issues nationally and internationally.

Prof Cathy Sutherland

Catherine Sutherland is an urban geographer who specializes in environmental, water and climate governance, with a focus on informal settlements and peri-urban areas in Durban. The theory and practice of local environmental change, urban governance, state–citizen relations and social transformation, and how these shape urban sustainability in cities in the South, are of particular interest in her work. She is an academic in the School of Built Environment and Development Studies at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban and teaches modules on sustainability, governance and development.

PROFESSOR CHRIS BUCKLEY (5 July 1949 – 27 May 2021)

Chris was a well-known, iconic figure in the international Water and Sanitation field, and touched the lives of many, inspiring everyone with his astonishing general knowledge, and deep understanding of science and engineering.

Chris began his career in the water and sanitation field in the 1970s as a postgraduate student in Chemical Engineering at the then University of Natal. He later joined the Pollution Research Group (PRG) in 1972 and was appointed as the full-time head in 1987. Under his guidance, the PRG has delivered ground-breaking research in the water and sanitation field, and expanded its research scope beyond chemical engineering, to become a trans-disciplinary research hub with local, national and international recognition for its work. His commitment to producing high quality research outputs, and his ability to adapt to the changing research landscape, has ensured that funding relationships have endured under his leadership. In order to reflect the growing range of research undertaken by the group, the PRG was rebranded and relaunched as the Water, Sanitation & Hygiene Research & Development Centre (WASH R&D Centre) in December 2020.

Chris was always full of bright and innovative ideas at any time of the day and night and constantly developed research questions to address water and sanitation challenges, and then set about establishing a network of researchers (both young and established) who would go on a journey of discovery with him. His firm belief in the spirit of Ubuntu, respect and trust, charismatic personality, radiant smile and mischievous sense of humour will forever be remembered.