Alex graduated with a BEng (Hons) in chemical engineering from Stellenbosch University in 1995 followed by two formative years working in the industrial gases sector as a production engineer. Having established a firm interest in process control and the associated economic benefits, he returned to Stellenbosch University, completing an MSc and a PhD in chemical engineering with a focus on non-linear process control.
During his PhD, Alex was a visiting researcher at the University of Texas at Austin within Computer Science, fostering an abiding interest in optimisation methodologies. Given the challenges presented by the non-linear dynamics associated with bioreactors, Alex returned to industry within the biotechnology sector. He was responsible for the R&D, scale-up and technology transfer for a number of new amino acid production technologies with a particular focus on fermentation cultivation strategies and continuous adsorption processes.
Moving to the UK, Alex gained expertise in the biologics sector within senior technical and programme management leadership roles. Returning to industrial biotechnology, Alex led as primary inventor in the creation of the technology platform within a polymer manufacturer's Sustainability Group, geared towards polyamide monomer and alkene production. He spearheaded the establishment of a world-class gas fermentation laboratory and systems biology capability. In the interface between science and engineering, he filled a pivotal role as technology integrator covering process conceptualisation, techno-economic analysis, scale-up, process modelling and process design; collaborating with centres of excellence within the UK, USA and Europe.