Safer drinking water and access to medical school: News from the College

Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) image of the arsenic-removing material. (Cred
Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) image of the arsenic-removing material. (Credit: C Lapinee)

Here’s a batch of fresh news and announcements from across Imperial.

From a new nanomaterial that removes dangerous arsenic from drinking water, to an alumni-led charity that aims to widen access to medical school, here is some quick-read news from across the College.

Safer drinking water

Imperial and Diamond Light Source researchers have developed a new material that cleans water of arsenic in one step.

Up to 200 million people globally are exposed to arsenic through contaminated drinking water, particularly in South Asia. Long-term exposure to even trace amounts can lead to debilitating and potentially fatal diseases including skin cancer, lung cancer, keratosis, and neurological disorders.

This new material, known as ’TiO2/Fe2O3 nanomaterial’, combines photocatalytic oxidation with adsorption to extract arsenic from water. It was developed in collaboration with the Australian National University , the Natural History Museum , the University of Phayao in Thailand, and Imperial student startup Untap.

The researchers, from the Departments of Earth Science and Engineering and Chemistry hope that the new material might be incorporated into filtration columns for everyday use in affected households, as this inexpensive and efficient technology could improve the quality of water for millions of people.

Read the full study here.

Quantum greats

Professor Michael Duff, from the Department of Physics at Imperial, has been honoured for his 70th birthday with a special edition of the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society A, titled ’ Quantum gravity, branes and M-theory ’. The edition reflects topics Professor Duff has been influential in, which seek to unite quantum physics with gravity. It also includes tributes from, among others, Nobel Laureate Steven Weinberg and Fields Medalist Edward Witten.

Professor Duff has also edited a book of Steven Weinberg’s papers , published by World Scientific. Weinberg’s most well-known work was the formulation of electroweak theory, for which he earned the 1979 Nobel Prize with Sheldon Glashow and Abdus Salam, but his work also spanned many other topics in quantum physics and cosmology. The book brings together 37 of his most significant papers, together with commentaries, providing today’s physicists with easy access to these seminal papers.

Medicine Award

In2MedSchool , founded by Imperial medicine graduate Dr Brian Wang, provides mentoring for students from disadvantaged areas aspiring to study medicine. Since its inception in 2020, In2medschool has been formally registered as a charity and won two prestigious awards.

"I am so proud of the volunteers at In2MedSchool who are volunteering their valuable time to level the playing field for students from disadvantaged backgrounds." Dr Brian Wang Imperial Alumnus

The first is Best New Initiative Award at the Student Social Mobility Awards 2022 which recognises an organisations working to improve widening participation outcomes in the UK.

The second is the Community Champion award at the Third Sector Awards 2022. This award showcases an individual or small charity that entered the Third Sector Awards free entry scheme, and has gone above and beyond to support those they work with.

Brian said: "I am so pleased that people are recognising the terrific work that In2MedSchool’s volunteers are doing to widen participation in higher education. The barriers to social mobility are greater than ever. I am so proud of the volunteers at In2MedSchool who are volunteering their valuable time to level the playing field for students from disadvantaged backgrounds."

Main image credit: Shutterstock.

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