NUI Galway student targets national award with research on water quality

May 01 2007 Posted: 00:00 IST

NUI Galway PhD student Sandra Galvin from the Department of Bacteriology will bring the topical issue of water quality to the annual Science Speak competition in the RDS on Thursday, 3 May, 2007 where she will compete with students from the six other Irish Universities to claim the coveted national title.

Compered by RTE's Pat Kenny, the contest rates the speakers' ability to communicate their research to a non-scientific audience. The judging panel, which includes Irish Times Science Editor Dick Ahlstrom, Peter Brabazon of Discover Science and Engineering, and RTE broadcasters John Creedon, Éanna Ní Lamhna and Kathriona Devereux, will determine the winner as the person best able to communicate their area of research and how it can affect peoples' everyday lives.

Sandra's presentation, 'Water water everywhere - is it safe to drink?' is especially topical given the current national debate about water quality arising from the problems with water quality in the Galway region. It is based on her PhD research project which examines how to detect antibiotic resistant bacteria in water and in sewage and asks what is the significance of this issue for human health. The work is funded by the Environmental Protection Agency. Sandra's work involves analysing various water bodies around Ireland including hospital effluent, outflow from a wastewater treatment plant, source water, drinking water, sea water, river water and lake water.

"The effect the environment has on our health is of increasing concern worldwide," says Sandra. "Given the current climate of water quality issues in Ireland, this research further highlights the importance of increased monitoring and assessment of our water supplies."

Originally from Askeaton, in County Limerick, Sandra holds a BSc in Microbiology from UCC. Now in her second year of a PhD at the Department of Bacteriology, NUI Galway, she is one of a team of researchers involved in the 'Enhancing Human Health Through Improved Water Quality' project, led by the Environmental Change Institute at NUI Galway.

Science Speak is an annual competition organised by the seven Irish Universities; NUI Galway, University of Limerick, University College Cork, University College Dublin, Trinity College Dublin, Dublin City University and NUI Maynooth. Each finalist, a postgraduate student, qualified for the national final through individual competitions in their respective university.

Science Speak is a joint initiative organised by the Irish Times and the RDS in association with the Irish Universities Promoting Science. The event is sponsored by Wyeth Biotech and the Discover Science & Engineering Programme.



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