Pilar Fernandez, Lecturer, Ulster University
Access to water is a human right recognised by the United Nations via the Sustainable Development Goal 6. This means enough, affordable, sustainable, and safe water must be available for all. This is not a reality for around 2.1 billion people in the world. I never thought in my best dreams that I would be working with the communities without access to adequate drinking water sources. We work to find a solution through research in engineering.
Working in this is a thrilling and rewarding experience because you can see the direct impact of our research in these people lives. Women and girls, as main carers of domestic water aspects, are the key benefactors of this project.”
Beginning as a theoretical physicist, Pilar has become an inspirational researcher using basic science and engineering to develop practical solutions to support the poor; specially women and girls in developing countries. Pilar’s research in the last 15 years has helped to identify and explore systems for disinfecting drinking water using low-cost innovations. This work culminated with the collaborative project WATERSPOUTT, aimed to design novel solar reactors that work without any electrical support to deliver drinking water to school children in rural communities of Uganda.
Her research focus on solar driven technologies for water purification using low-cost technologies. She is leading researcher in the field of solar disinfection. Currently Pilar leads research in two European projects to explore new sustainable and efficient technologies to remediate the water problems in Europe and India. She also collaborates with Latin American countries, through the GCRF-URI SAFEWATER project, for developing drinking water systems at household level in isolated communities.