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Professor Francis de los Reyes to deliver IMSE’s annual Dr. Theo George Wilson lecture

It’s a question that most people don’t — or don’t want to — think about: When we poop, where does it go? But the way fecal material is treated and disposed of is a huge global issue that affects billions of people across the world, as is access to clean and safe drinking water. In 2020, 771 million people still lacked even a basic level of drinking water service, and more than one billion people in 14 countries suffer from neglected tropical diseases associated with poor water and sanitation, such as helminthiases, trachoma, and schistosomiasis.  

These are a few of the water, sanitation and hygiene (WaSH) issues that Glenn E. and Phyllis J. Futrell Distinguished Professor Francis de los Reyes will discuss during the Institute for Molecular Science and Engineering’s annual Dr. Theo George Wilson Lecture on June 15. The lecture, entitled “Re-thinking Innovation and Engagement to Address the Global Water and Sanitation Challenge,” will be held in City and Guilds Building Lecture Theatre 200, Imperial College London, South Kensington Campus. The lecture will also be accessible online through YouTube.

De los Reyes will discuss key factors in systematically addressing WaSH challenges. A focus will be discussing how innovation and community engagement can be harnessed to meet the global WaSH challenge.

De los Reyes, who leads the NC State Global WaSH Faculty cluster, has published more than 130 peer-reviewed papers on wastewater treatment, the anaerobic digestion of solid waste and global sanitation. He is also a TED Fellow who gave a talk entitled “Sanitation is a Basic Human Right.” His awards include the Gordon Fair Award in Environmental Engineering Education; the Outstanding Teacher, Outstanding Extension, and Global Outreach Awards from NC State; the US National Science Foundation CAREER Award; the Steven Dentel Award for Global Outreach from AEESP; and the AAEE Research Honor Award. His group’s pit-emptying technology (Flexcrevator and Excluder) was awarded the RELX Group Environmental Challenge Award in 2018, and he received the Patents for Humanity Award in 2020. He was among 15 water industry professionals named a 2021 Fellow of the Water Environment Federation.