Academic & Research Staff

Dr Siew Tai

Senior Lecturer & Undergraduate Programme Convenor (Dept Chem Eng)

Bioprocessing medicinal plants and endophytes for skin health
Probiotics for skin health – freezing drying for formulation into skin products

My research encompasses the intricate networking between biotechnology and bioprocess engineering, mainly within the bioproducts, biopharmaceutical, agricultural and the food and beverage industry. I have worked with the Affymetrix® Genechip platform and have extensive knowledge in various molecular biology tools (e.g. RT qPCR, cloning). I specialise in the field of industrial fermentation. My current research at UCT concentrates in the fields of biopharmaceutical engineering and bioenergy systems, in combination with bioreactor design, bioprocess modelling and simulation, and bioproduct formation.   

In his position as senior lecturer in the Department of Chemical Engineering, he is Undergraduate Programme Convenor for the department. He convenes the Chemical Engineering Design Project (CHE4036Z) and the precursor course, Process Synthesis and Equipment Design (CHE4049F). He also teaches in the biotechnology component of the programme, in particular in Bioprocess Engineering Principles (CHE3068S) and the Bioprocess Engineering Design (CHE4068F) courses. In addition, he has been involved with the design of the new UCT undergraduate curriculum, is on the board of Advisory for Biotechnology at CPUT and is an external moderator for various modules for universities in South Africa.

Current Supervision Doctorate               5                                    
Graduated Supervision Doctorate          1             
Current Supervision Masters                  3                                    
Graduated Supervision Masters             4             

In refereed Journals                               17                                   
Presented at International Conferences  5             
Technical Reports                                   1                                     
Patents                                                   1             

Professional History

2013 – Present       Senior Lecturer & Director of Undergraduate Studies (2019-), Department of Chemical Engineering, Centre for Bioprocess Engineering Research (CeBER), University of Cape Town
2012 – 2013          Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient (API) Section Head, Production Department, The Biovac Institute, Cape Town, South Africa
2011 – 2013           Discipline Engineer – Production Team Leader, Project Management Office, The Biovac Institute, Cape Town, South Africa
2009 – 2012          Bioprocess/Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient (API) Manufacturing Specialist, Production Department, The Biovac Institute, Cape Town, South Africa
2006 – 2008         Laboratory Manager and Postdoctoral Fellow, Institute for Wine Biotechnology, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa
2002 – 2002         Research Scientist, Delft University of Technology, Delft, The Netherlands
1999 – 2000          Sales and Technical Engineer, Exact Control Sdn. Bhd., Selangor, Malaysia


2002 – 2006:         PhD (Industrial Microbiology), Delft University of Technology, The Netherlands
Supervisor: Prof Jack Pronk
Thesis title: Physiological Impact and Context Dependency of Transcriptional Responses: a chemostat study in Saccharomyces cerevisiae
2000 – 2002         MSc (Biochemical Engineering), Delft University of Technology, The Netherlands, (cum laude)
1996 – 1999         BEng (Chemical Engineering, University of Manchester Institute for Science and Technology (UMIST), Manchester, UK (1st class Hons)

View Curriculum Vitae.