On the 20th September we hosted the 2nd ECR WASH conference: “New perspectives in WASH” at the Cranfield Campus. This conference was primarily organised by PhD students of the Water Science Institute. The conference as the title suggests was aimed at students and those who are within 10 years of starting their career in the WASH sector.
The conference had approximately 60 attendees and sponsors from across the UK and overseas with a wide range of specialisms and interests being covered. The speakers at the conference covered topics including, water treatment, the provision of drinking water in developing nations, resilience of water and sanitation systems, the circular economy, on-site sanitation systems, waterless toilets and infant bacterial exposure.
The conference had two keynote speakers; Dr Richard Carter and Dr Robert Dreibelbis. Dr Richard Carter opened proceedings with a comprehensive overview of the multi-disciplinary field of WASH, and recommended collaborating across fields to achieve the important goals of providing water and sanitation to those in need. Dr Robert Dreibelbis from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine lead the afternoon session with his presentation on WASH and public health. The presentation provided an interesting look into some of the challenges and limitations facing WASH research as well as the future of wash research and interventions.
As well as the presentations from the speakers the afternoon saw a panel discussion on “how to survive in academia”. The panel consisted of Professor Sean Tyrrel (Cranfield), Dr Dani Barrington (Leeds University), Dr Bruce Jefferson (Cranfield) and Dr Raffaella Villa (Cranfield). The panel faced multiple questions from the audience regarding their careers in academia including their progression to their current position and deciding where to publish.
Throughout the conference posters presenting the research of students were displayed. This provided an opportunity for students to present and discuss their research and ideas with other attendees in an informal setting. A jury of academics chose the poster of Cranfield student Joah Bramhall as winner of the poster competition; a Cranfield PhD student sponsored by Unilever.
A three minute thesis competition was also held at the end of the day, during which the students taking part had to summarise their research in three minutes. Whilst challenging it was good practise in scientific communication and summarising the most important aspects of one’s research in a concise manner, whilst being fun at the same time. The winner of the competition was decided upon based on an audience vote. Anna Hulme, a PhD student of Cranfield University won the competition.
It is hoped that this conference will be held again next year and once again be student-lead in its organisation!