Research published by a University of Bath PhD graduate has earned an award from the Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE) and been named among the best chemical engineering papers of the year.

A study into the growth of biofilms – collections of microorganisms that grow on surfaces – carried out by Dr Oliver Peck alongside Prof John Chew and Dr Mike Bird from the Department of Chemical Engineering was awarded the 2020 Junior Moulton Medal.

The research paper describes the characterisation and removal of unwanted biofilms formed on surfaces in pharmaceutical and food preparation settings, which will help increase understanding and steer practice in industry. The research used a technique called Fluid Dynamic Gauging (FDG), which was invented by Prof Chew and is the world’s first surface engineering tool capable of providing real-time local measurements of the thickness and attachment strength of biofilms.

The medal is given by the IChemE to authors of outstanding research published by the institution who have graduated in the last 10 years. It recognises research that is forward-looking in topic areas that will be important in future and appealing to non-expert readers.

Prof Chew, who led the study, said: “Oliver recently graduated from the Department of Chemical Engineering, so we are delighted for him to receive the Junior Moulton Medal 2020 – he did some fantastic work on this paper. We sincerely thank the IChemE for the recognition.”

Dr Bird is a previous recipient of the award, having won it as a recent graduate in 1991.

You can read the paper, On-line quantification of thickness and strength of single and mixed species biofilm grown under controlled laminar flow conditions, in Food and Bioproducts Processing.