To date I have overseen the supervision, career development and successful completion of 12 doctoral students from the UK, Italy, Portugal, Cameroon, Nigeria, Brazil and India. These PhD's have covered a range of topics such as 'Bacteriophages as Surrogates of Viral Pathogens in Wastewater Treatment Systems (Dias 2016)', Ecological Characteristics of the Enterococcal Surface Protein (esp) gene with reference to microbial source tracking (Yaliwal 2014); Low-cost physico-chemical disinfection of human excreta in emergency settings (Sozzi 2015); Bacteriophages as Indicators of Human Enteric Viruses in Mussels (Da Silva 2013); and UV Radiation Response of Bacteriophages of Human-specific Bacteroides (Diston, 2010) .
I am currently supervising a water industry-funded PhD student who is using cutting-edge source apportionment approaches to investigate drivers of pollution in Chichester, Langstone and Pagham harbours (S. England) and have just finished supervising a PhD on Pollution, plastics and plumes; understanding the behaviour of microplastics in aquatic sediments of the R. Thames catchment.
I'm keen to supervise postgraduate research (MRes/MPhil/PhDs) in the following areas: development and application of low-cost and/or rapid water quality monitoring tools; behaviour of micro-contaminants (particularly viruses) within the environment and impacts on human health; understanding environmental interactions of emerging contaminants; water and sanitation within low-income and/or emergency settings.
According to French Physiologist Claude Bernard - "The science of life is a superb and dazzlingly lighted hall which may be reached only by passing through a long and ghastly kitchen." Anyone who has undertaken a doctoral degree is likely to agree with this analogy (at least at some point during their journey). As a PhD supervisor, I see my role as someone who can potentially make the kitchen a little less ghastly, or the journey slightly less arduous. I strive to provide a highly connected, supportive, nurturing international research environment with the Environment and Public Health Research and Enterprise Group.
I am currently supervising a further 3 PhD candidates. My PhD students have originated from an equally diverse range of disciplines including Fisheries Engineering, Environmental Science, Biology, Biomolecular Science, Microbiology, Ecology, Environmental Management, Mathematics and have worked for NGO’s in Haiti (MSF), on Gates Foundation-funded research in India, on US AID-funded research into safe excreta disposal in emergencies (Cholera and Ebola treatment centres), led MRC-funded projects in Kenya, founded research groups in Brazil, and managed prestigious research laboratories in the US.
All have gone on to forge careers within the burgeoning field of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) and or microbiology, either via academia, or industry. The sustained success of our thriving research group stems from a blend of enthusiasm for the wider subject area and from a long-held desire to break down barriers, to ensure that epidemiologists mix with engineers, and microbiologists work with modellers. This has been achieved by exchanging PhD students (and Early Career Researchers) with trusted and established international project collaborators within the public, private and voluntary sectors.
I also maintain a rolling programme of group activities, training initiatives and social events for new arrivals into the group, which is increasingly populated by previous PhD students who are even better placed to support the career aspirations of our current and future Doctoral students. With unsafe water supply and sanitation responsible for an estimated 842,000 deaths per year, the WASH sector continues to face significant challenges, which are only likely to be met through interdisciplinary, cross-border collaboration by a new generation of WASH-focussed researchers, capable of confidently sharing ideas across a range scientific domains and via an increasingly complex network of stakeholders and end-users. I hope that as my students continue to emerge into the ‘dazzlingly lighted hall’ they are as well-rounded and well-placed as possible to meet this challenge.