The winner of the 2022 Godfrey and Sue Hall Postgraduate Research Student Prize is Jakub Dziegielowski, PhD student in Chemical Engineering.

Jakub’s research ‘Development of innovative soil microbial fuel cells for energy harvesting solutions in remote areas of the world’ takes a multidisciplinary approach, spanning biotechnology, electrochemistry, chemical and electrical engineering, to help tackle energy challenges in remote and poor areas of the world. Over 800 million people across the world have no access to electricity and over 3 billion have to rely on harmful fuels for cooking and lighting purposes. Soil microbial fuel cells (SMFCs) are self-rechargeable biological batteries, capitalising on bacterial processes naturally occurring in soil to produce electricity that is green, and independent of environmental and geographical factors. Despite the benefits of this technology, practical implementations have been hindered by low power, high-cost-to-power ratio and poor stability. Jakub’s research has successfully scaled-up the output power by building stacks of SMFCs and demonstrated practical application in the village of Icapui in North-East of Brazil via a collaboration with human geographers and social scientists from Universidade Federal do Ceará, funded by GCRF Research England.

Professor Sarah Hainsworth, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research) and Chair of the Prize Committee, said “The Committee was struck by the very high number and quality of entries to the prize this year and were delighted to note the diversity of doctoral research that was presented. In particular, it was wonderful to see the strong alignment of our student’s work to our research themes of sustainability, digital and health and well-being. Our warmest congratulations go to Jakub for his outstanding contribution to research at the University".

After receiving the award, Jakub said, “It has been an absolute pleasure to share my research journey and receive such great recognition for my efforts. A huge thank you to Godfrey and Sue Hall, the Committee, my supervisors Mirella and Ben, and all those who have supported me on this PhD adventure!”

The Godfrey and Sue Hall Postgraduate Research Student Prize is awarded on behalf of Senate by the Godfrey and Sue Hall Postgraduate Research Student Prize Committee to a postgraduate research student based on a high standard of achievement. Sponsors of the award, Godfrey and Sue Hall said, “We are once again very privileged to sponsor this very important and prestigious award. This year we were very impressed by the relevance and quality of the submissions in this time of climate change and biodiversity. The entries were of a very high standard and the winner of the prize must be congratulated on the way he addressed a major issue and looked at ways in which it might be resolved. A great deal of work has gone into this project and Jakub thoroughly deserves to have been selected to receive this prize in recognition of his outstanding research.”