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Pushing the boundaries of cement and concrete research

Cement & Concrete SA (CCSA) presented its Young Concrete Researcher Award for 2023 to Janina P Kanjee, who is currently completing her PhD studies in civil engineering at the University of the Witwatersrand. She was singled out for her “significant contribution to the advancement of cement and concrete through research excellence in the South African environment”. Floors decided to learn more. 

Q: Can you tell us about your career journey so far?  

Janina P Kanjee, Construction Materials Lecturer at the School of Civil & Environmental Engineering, Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment, University of the Witwatersrand

A: I obtained both my BSc and MSc in civil engineering at the University of Cape Town. My journey towards developing a profound passion for concrete technology was serendipitous. Acting on the counsel of a family friend, a former civil engineer, I decided to focus my fourth-year research project on concrete materials instead of water – an insightful recommendation that significantly altered my trajectory. Through this experience, my intrigue for concrete deepened, eventually sparking within me a strong inclination towards pursuing a career in academia. 

Following four years as a structural engineer in the industry, I transitioned to a position at the University of the Witwatersrand, where I embarked on both lecturing and the pursuit of my PhD. 

Q: What do you think are the most important qualities for success in your field? How do you cultivate these in yourself? 

A: Adaptability stands as a paramount attribute for achieving success, in my view. One needs to constantly reflect and review the way in which we live, how we go about our daily lives. I have realised that immersing myself in the company of proactive individuals who share my values has been instrumental in honing this trait. 

Q: Tell us five fun facts about yourself! 

A: Indulging in outdoor activities brings me immense joy, whether it involves frolicking with my dogs, engaging in a spirited game of tennis or embarking on invigorating five-day hikes. These moments spent in nature offer me a profound recharge, enabling me to attain fresh perspectives on my life’s journey and re-establish a strong sense of being grounded (both mentally and physically). 

I have a deep affection for attending live performances, whether it’s at a theatre or a musical performance. There is an inexplicable magic in experiencing moments unfold in real-time, a unique connection that only comes to life during live shows. 

“This award motivates me to push the boundaries of cement and concrete research further to advance our understanding of concrete materials, explore innovative construction techniques and promote sustainable practices to benefit both society and the environment.” – Janina P Kanjee

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