SPRING award winners December 2021

We are delighted to announce our SPRING award winners for December 2021.

The SPRING competition is a funding award which is part of water@leeds’ Mission 4: Next Generation – to train the next generation of water experts who will develop the knowledge, skills and interdisciplinary awareness to make a positive contribution to tackling water-related challenges. The award is open to all postgraduate research students whose research is related to water.

In this round of the biannual award, our funding support goes to four postgraduate researchers for their excellent applications which also reflect the wide ranging international and interdisciplinary research taking place at water@leeds with impacts across the world.

Angela Bayona Valderrama

School of Civil Engineering

PhD topic: Hidden Failures – assessing public health risks in intermittent water supply systems

Supervisor: Prof Barbara Evans, Dr Miller Alonso Camargo Valero

‘My research locates at the intersection of water safety, population health, and behavioural notions of water quality. The aim of my PhD project is to study the multiple pathways that create disease risk specifically associated with consumption of fecally contaminated stored water, in communities experiencing intermittent water supply (IWS). The main objective is the development of an approach to multidimensional risk characterisation of IWS, with specific consideration of water storage behaviours. I am grateful for the opportunity granted by Water@Leeds, this award will help me fund the fieldwork of my project – specifically, the costs related to the water quality assessment campaigns and the deployment of a water storage survey module. Outputs of this research will help in creating safer ways to store water at households, schools, worksites, and healthcare facilities. This award will contribute to building a risk assessment approach that addresses water insecurity in cities where water supply is often unreliable.’


Francis Dent

School of Mechanical Engineering

PhD topic: Design and Frabrication of Biomimetic Micro-Nanopatterned Surfaces using Fluid Based Self Assembly

Supervisors: Dr Sepideh Khodaparast, Dr Nicholas J. Warren

‘My project involves micropatterning surfaces by templating polymer films with partially submerged water droplets. By initiating condensation, this methodology can spontaneously create a porous material through the imprinting of spherical droplets which self-assemble on the medium surface before curing and droplet evaporation. The funding award will allow me to push the sizes of features I can create, enabling me to characterise the formed topography at nanoscales. By using high-resolution imaging techniques such as scanning electron microscopy and confocal microscopy, I will elucidate the pattern morphology and investigate the enhanced material properties, such as hydrophobicity, that result from it.’


Alejandra Maria Zazueta Lopez

School of Geography

PhD topic: Impacts of Coastal Eutrophication on benthic ecosystems

Supervisor: Prof Clare Woulds, Dr Christian Merz

‘My project is looking for impacts of macroalgae blooms on the benthic biogeochemical processes in transitional coastal areas. In the last year I’ve been able to visit my field sites and collect samples of sediment, algae and water. Thanks to water@leeds I will be using the £500 from the SPRING Award to cover the costs of visiting a laboratory in Edinburgh where I can analyse my samples; allowing me to use new methods and to participate in an effort (in collaboration with my supervisors and collaborators in Edinburgh) to develop a fingerprinting technique for identifying macroalgal carbon in sediments.’


Alma Palacios Marin

School of Design

PhD topic: Effect of material and structural parameters on the release of fragmented microfibre pollution from textiles.

Supervisor: Dr Muhammad Tausif

‘My research is studying fragmented fibres (FF) including microplastics (MP), released from textiles during laundry processes. These particles with a size under 5mm, are released from all textile materials into washing effluent and find their way into terrestrial and aquatic environments. Wastewater treatment plants are unable to retain all particles, and they may reach the environment and endanger biota and human health. The SPRING fund will allow me to collaborate with the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile. This research partnership will help me to elucidate the generation of FF under simulated washing conditions, and develop the understanding of variables involved in the eventual release of FF/MP into the environment.’

Many congratulations to our four winners. We will update our website on the progress of each project.