Forestry and Forest Products Research Centre

ffp Contact Staff


Bruce Sithole
Phone: +27 31 242 2325
Dr Bruce Sithole is Group Leader of the Forest and Forest Products (FFP) laboratories and Director of the FFP research centre, a joint venture between UKZN and the CSIR. He graduated with a BSc (hons) from the University of Sierra Leone and obtained an M.Sc from the University of Aberdeen and a PhD in Industrial Chemistry from Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. He has previously worked at the Pulp and Paper Research Institute of Canada where he was a Principal Scientist and Group Leader. His research interests encompass many aspects of pulp and paper making technologies. He joined the CSIR in 2010 to set up research activities in Biorefinery processing and the Green Technologies. He has consulted extensively to pulp and paper companies in Canada, the USA, South America and South Africa. Bruce holds a faculty appointment in chemical engineering at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.

Plant Physiology and Reproductive Biology

Wood Science, Fibre Processing and Bio-refining (Biology)

Prabashni Lekha
Phone: +27 31 242 2331
Prabashni is a researcher within the Wood Science Research group of FFP. She graduated from the University of KwaZulu-Natal with an MSc. (cum laude) in Biological Sciences. She is presently completing her Ph.D. which focused on developing tools to localise hemicellulose molecules across wood and dissolving pulp fibres using immuno-cytochemistry and electron microscopy. Her interests include: fibre ultrastructural research using chemical and cryo sample preparation techniques for microscopy; and cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin localisation studies.

Wood Science, Fibre Processing and Bio-refining (Chemistry)

Viren Chunilall
Phone: +27 31 242 2315
Dr Viren Chunilall is a Senior Researcher within the Wood Science research group with a PhD in Analytical Chemistry. His research areas of expertise include cellulose ultrastructure, cellulose accessibility and reactivity studies using tools such as Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM), solid and solution state NMR and Raman spectroscopy. Viren has an in-depth knowledge of the dissolving pulp process with a focus on cellulose for further derivatisation to viscose and cellulose acetate.
Jerome Andrew
Phone: +27 31 242 2381
Jerome is a Senior Researcher and Project Manager in the Fibre Processing group of FFP. He obtained his M.Sc. in Chemical Engineering from the University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa and a specialised M.Sc. in Pulp and Paper from the International School of Paper, Print Media and Biomaterials (Grenoble INP - Pagora), France. His research interests span the domains of wood chemical characterisation, kraft pulping, pulp and paper properties, paper recycling, pulp bleaching, and handmade papermaking technologies.
Navandran Gounden
Phone: +27 31 242 2402
Navandran holds a BSc Honours degree in Analytical Chemistry from the University of South Africa having completed his undergraduate degree in Chemistry at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. He is currently the Laboratory Supervisor at the CSIR-FFP and is responsible for the co-ordination and supervision of all instrumental and wet chemical analysis.

Wood Science, Fibre Processing and Bio-refining (Chemical Engineering)

Jonas Johakimu
Phone: +27 31 242 2316
Jonas Johakimu holds an M.Sc. in Chemical Engineering obtained from the University of KwaZulu-Natal (2007). He has previously worked for 8 years as a chemical engineer at an integrated Kraft pulp mill. Currently he holds a position of Senior Research Application and Development Engineer at FFP. His research interests and expertise include R&D and technical support projects aimed at enhancing the sustainability and competitiveness of the pulp and paper industry. This includes improving energy efficiency and product quality in Kraft pulping process, reduction in pulp refining energy and minimising wastage of fibres in thermal mechanical pulping process.