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Fellowship for water treatment

Professor Olatunji Kolawole is an astute academic, prolific researcher and outstanding microbiologist who is focused on reducing the burden of waterborne diseases in Nigeria through developing methods, techniques and materials capable of removing microbial contaminants from polluted water. His Fellowship allows him to build a wider network and share his expertise in infectious diseases and specialism in virology and environmental health to share with his host department. He has worked extensively on enteric viruses isolated from humans and water bodies and other public health concerns including coronavirus, adenovirus, hepatitis virus, human papilloma virus, arboviruses, haemorrhagic viruses, poliovirus and enteroviruses. In recent years, his work has also focused on reducing the burden of waterborne diseases in Nigeria through developing methods, techniques and materials capable of removing microbial contaminants from polluted water.

What the Fellowship offers

The IAS Visiting Professor Fellowship is giving Professor Kolawole the opportunity to develop and strengthen teaching and research into water and wastewater treatment processes for the undergraduate and postgraduate students at Warwick. It is an opportunity to explore novel materials and develop globally applicable commercialised products.

Microbes to clean water

In 2020, while investigating bacteria and viruses associated with waterborne disease, Professor Kolawole identified novel bioflocculants - organisms causing the clumping together of dispersed organic particles - which had the capacity to remove microbes and chemical pollutants from water and wastewater. These novel organisms have now been crystallised to increase their efficiency in water/wastewater treatment.

Greener approaches to water treatment

Bioflocculants are degradable, safe, less costly, available and eco-friendly so Professor Kolawole's research aims to develop a commercially viable flocculant from the novel non-pathogenic bacteria. By contrast the use of chemical flocculants has a significant negative impact on humans and the environment. This includes the production of toxic sludge containing metal hydroxides that creates disposal issues and an increase in the concentration of metals in the environment, which impacts the sustainability of the environment and human health.

The value of international networks

Dr Modupe Jimoh, Warwick's hosting academic, in the past has worked in the same institution as Professor Kolawole, where they mapped out similar areas of research in water and wastewater treatment. The opportunity to collaborate at Warwick emerged in 2022 when the Africa Hub promoted the funding opportunities available through the Institute for Advanced Studies. Professor David Towers, the Head of the School of Engineering, supported the application to enable Dr Modupe Jimoh to host Professor Olatunji Kolawole from April 2022 to March 2023. As part of the one-year scheme, Professor Kolawole visited Warwick in October-November 2022, with a subsequent visit planned for March 2023.

"The opportunities provided at Warwick have helped me conduct laboratory analyses on three novel purified bioflocculants and I have identified research grants suitable for developing the bioflocculant as a water/wastewater treatment material. Importantly through visiting the University lectures, and participation of students, I have developed a network of potential collaborators in the School of Life Sciences.”

- Professor Olatunji Kolawole

The value of IAS Fellowship

Professor Kolawole has contributed to a number learning activities, delivering lectures to fourth-year Civil Engineering students taking the Global Water and Sanitation Technologies module; participating in an IATL Global and Sustainable Development workshop with Dr Modupe Jimoh; guiding a PhD student on their work on water/ wastewater treatment materials and developing a draft interdisciplinary water quality, pollution and treatment module for postgraduates or through the Centre for Lifelong Learning.

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