Francesco Petruccione receives Italian award

Prof Francesco Petruccione (centre) was presented the honour of Cavaliere of the Ordine della Stella d’Italia (Knight of the Order of the Star of Italy) by His Excellency Dr Paolo Cuculi, Ambassador of Italy in South Africa (right) in the presence of the Italian Consul in Cape Town, Mr Emanuele Pollio (left).


Prof Francesco Petruccione, Interim Director of NITheCS, has been presented with the prestigious honour of Cavaliere of the Ordine della Stella d’Italia (Knight of the Order of the Star of Italy) by His Excellency  Dr Paolo Cuculi, Ambassador of Italy in South Africa. This distinction bestows a particular honour on behalf of all those individuals (Italians abroad or foreigners), ‘who have acquired special merit in the promotion of friendly relations and cooperation between Italy and other countries and the promotion of ties with Italy.’

‘I am delighted to have been honoured in this way,’ commented Prof Petruccione on the honour.  ‘It is particularly rewarding to know that others notice the work we do in terms of international collaboration in the sciences across disciplinary and national borders.’

Italian-born Prof Petruccione is a world-renowned quantum scientist. In addition to his role at NITheCS, he is also Professor in Quantum Computing at the School for Data Science and Computational Thinking of the University of Stellenbosch (SU). Before that, he held among others the position of Pro Vice-Chancellor: Big Data and Informatics at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) where he was also the SA Research Chair in Quantum Information Processing and Communication. He is a member of the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf), a Fellow of the Royal Society of South Africa, a fellow of the African Academy of Sciences and a Fellow of UKZN.

Prof Petruccione is a proponent of the concept of ‘undisciplinarity’ and comments that ‘while interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary approaches promote collaboration between different fields, they still operate within the framework of distinct disciplines. Undisciplinarity, on the other hand, dissolves these boundaries entirely.’

He adds: ‘It views science not as a collection of separate disciplines, but as a unified whole, with the Grand Challenges – the most pressing scientific and societal issues – at its core. This approach is particularly important for the international drive to address, for instance, the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations – something that requires and will require the extraordinary efforts and cooperation of scientists in conjunction with other influential groups from all over the world.’