‘Making a world of difference’ was the theme for this year’s Discovery Series research showcase in London on 13 November. More than 100 alumni got the chance to meet with our researchers and discover what they’re working on first-hand, from low cost ways to detect diseases, to safer sanitation and ocean-friendly plastics.

Do you want to be Discovered?

This is the fourth Discovery Series event organised by the University’s Department of Development & Alumni Relations. Each occasion draws a crowd of enthusiastic and engaged graduates and their guests, eager to find out about the impact of our researchers’ work here at Bath.

We know our researchers get a lot out of meeting our guests and making connections that could help them to further their work. If you think your research could connect with our alumni and friends, and want to be considered for our next Discovery Series event, please get in touch

Or if you’re looking for support for your research project, we’re now accepting applications for grants from the Alumni Fund. Find out more

Three things our guests learned at the Discovery Series

1. More people in the world have a mobile phone than have access to a toilet.

Three-quarters of a million children under five die each year because of a lack of basic sanitation. Analysing how bacteria spreads can help to improve sanitation, which is what has driven PhD student Naomi Deering, from our Department of Architecture & Civil Engineering, to try to create the perfect recipe for fake faecal sludge. Her specially formulated lab-created poo enables her to carry out experiments safely.

Naomi brought along 12 sample bottles (her ‘poo-vre’ as she calls it) to show guests the progress she’s made towards making fake poo that closely resembles the real thing. (Thankfully it doesn’t smell like the real thing, but it’s still pretty pungent! Imagine a mix of strong yeast and hemp…)

Hear from Naomi from 4.00

2. 3D-printing technology pioneered at Bath is now being used to detect diseases

Although prevention methods, such as sleeping under nets, are helping bring down the number of cases, malaria still kills more than one million people a year. Being able to diagnose when a person’s symptoms are definitely malarial will reduce the number of times expensive medicines are prescribed unnecessarily.

Dr Richard Bowman from our Department of Physics showed how a microscope, manufactured at low cost using a 3D printer, can detect signs of infection quickly and simply. He also predicted an exciting future where these microscopes will be manufactured in developing countries using plastic that's been recycled locally.

Hear from Richard from 19.00

3. Taking a shower can mean 100,000 tiny plastic spheres going down the plughole… and into our oceans

In 2018 the Government issued a UK-wide ban on ocean-polluting microbeads found in cosmetic products. It’s potentially great news for sea life, and timely for our researchers, who have created a biodegradable alternative to polluting plastic microbeads.

Professor Janet Scott from our Department of Chemistry talked guests through their process of making microbeads from cellulose – a material that forms the tough fibres found in plants. The cellulose is dissolved and reformed into tiny beads that remain stable in a body wash, but can also be broken down in the sewage treatment works.

Janet then handed over to her co-researcher, Professor Davide Mattia from our Department of Chemical Engineering, who outlined some of the challenges and opportunities in upscaling this process.

Hear from Janet and Davide from 33.30

Support research that's making a world of difference

Jasmine Lightfoot is a PhD student working in the Department of Chemistry with Professor Janet Scott. She's crowdfunding for a specialist 3D printhead for constructing intricate and sustainable structures from cellulose. Support her project on Crowdfunding at Bath