It’s been a most difficult year 2020 which forced us academics to quickly adapt or even reinvent our teaching methods in the light of the constantly changing circumstances of the pandemic. Some things have changed for the better, and maybe the big class lecture will become a thing of the past. But practical skills are difficult to learn remotely, and challenging to deliver with social distancing. In the recently refurbished, well-equipped and spacious Houston Lab, we were able to deliver the membrane filtration practical in Buffer Week in November to small cohorts of students. Many thanks to the technical team for setting up, decommissioning, and disinfecting all of the set-ups between each practical.
From training into practice: Our collaborators at NUMed in Malaysia have published a paper showing that surrogate markers, such dissolved oxygen, Bacteroides and Prevotella abundances estimated from MinION sequencing data, and the rodA qPCR assay for total E. coli, can identify locations on a river that deserve immediate attention to mitigate AMR spread through improved waste management.
Jian Zang published a paper an innovative decentralized water system which utilized rainwater harvesting and zero wastewater discharge to locally (re)generate 39% of the water needed for a higher education institution with student and staff accommodation in India.
Excellent video clip from our collaborators in Ethiopia describing the water quality challenges in the Akaki River Basin.
Research by Jidapa (Aom) Plaimart shows that the combined application of digestate with coconut husk biochar is a promising biotechnology for sustainable agriculture, promoting the circular re-use of agricultural waste residues, in addition to renewable energy generation. Read her article in Environmental Pollution.
Kishor, with our colleagues in Tanzania, has published an article in the Journal of Environmental Management showing that DNA fragments are much more resilient under chlorination than intact cells or culturable bacteria. Consequently, complementary plate count methods remain essential for the correct interpretation of molecular data for disinfected waters. An important insight gained from the IMAGINE project.
We have assembled small equipment items into a water quality lab that fits into a suitcase. The suitcase lab enables 16S rRNA gene amplicon based characterization of millions of bacteria in water samples, almost anywhere in the world. A fantastic outcome of our collaboration with colleagues in Ethiopia.
Every year I have the privilege of working with talented CivEng students on their MEng/BEng projects. This year, MEng student Joseph Lazenby developed a fantastic website to interpret and share water quality information with the public, while BEng student Maximillian Ballard produced a BEng project prize-winning website on sanitation solutions. Well done, both!
Dr Kishor Acharya was awarded a Rapid Response Grant from the Global Challenge Academy to work with the Addis Ababa Water and Sewerage Authority (AAWSA), Addis Ababa University and the International Water Management Institute, in Ethiopia. The project aim is to share best practice for personnel working in the collection, treatment and management of wastewater.
Yifei, Jiangkun and Sanjeeb have successfully published a first outcome of our trinational collaboration with the China University of Geosciences, Wuhan, and the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, on using enzymes to degrade antibiotics in wastewater treatment plant effluent.