Engineering and technology in development contexts

Our research into new technologies has a vast and wide-ranging impact on health diagnoses, energy development and global security.

From investigating the suitability and reliability of water treatment and disinfection in developing countries, to developing new technology platforms to provide brain imaging and visualising gene transcription; our academics and postgraduate researchers are pioneering new methods of understanding and reacting to the challenges faced by contemporary societies across different continents.

This research helps to address medical and environmental issues, providing cost-effective, flexible solutions to replace old technologies or ways of thinking.

Projects available under this theme

Find out more about the project and apply directly to the scholarships via the listings below. You can also follow our guidance on how to apply to the Global Challenges PhD Scholarships.

Portable, non-invasive detection teachnology for timely diagnostics of dementias

Goldberg Oppenheimer and Belli

Dementia is conventionally diagnosed when progressive cognitive decline has occurred, and this has had noticeable impacts upon a person’s ability to carry out important everyday activities. The pathological changes in the brain that will eventually lead to the symptoms of dementia are likely to have commenced well in advance of the time at which the person’s symptoms would first have been noticed. Unfortunately, the current diagnostic tools are not only expensive, mostly invasive and cumbersome but they also lack the required specifity and sensitivity to detect dementias at early stages of the disease.  This study will be a major step towards the novel diagnostic technology that would facilitate low-cost, non-invasive, early diagnosis and management of neurodegenerative dementias at the point-of-care. It will focus on the development of portable lab-on-a-chip sensing devices for detection of human biofluids-based biomarkers, much in advance of the appearance of cognitive impairment symptoms of dementias. The proposed research is thereby breaking new ground in the pursuit of timely sensing tools for dementias to deliver major societal and technological impact, leading to significant improvement of quality of life for the patients.

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Sustainable water treatment and disinfection byproduct management in developing countries

Bridgeman and Sharifi

Freshwater is indispensable for human development, health and well-being. The issues associated with limited access to safe, reliable water supplies, and its criticality for sustainable development and the eradication of poverty and hunger are well-documented. Yet, microbiological waterborne disease remains a significant concern for the global water community. Pathogens in water sources cause ill health, hindering sustainable settlement development and disproportionately affecting the poor.  663M people do not have access to safe drinking water supplies and 2.4Bn are without access to improved sanitation services.  A child dies every 15s as a result of poor water quality.  It is widely predicted that water scarcity and pollution will be further exacerbated by population growth, urbanization, climate change and extreme events. These issues form the basis of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals 6.3, 6.5, 6.6a&b.  The work proposed here directly addresses this humanitarian issue by investigating and promoting efficient and affordable water sanitation approaches at household and community levels.  We will investigate the suitability of hibiscus plant seeds to aid water treatment in developing countries, specifically in relation to disinfection byproduct formation.  This new knowledge will be used to develop mitigation strategies to facilitate the provision of safe, treated water supplies to those in most need.

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