In her own small way, Lois Afua Okyerewaa Damptey, a Ghanaian PhD student in the United Kingdom, is pushing the envelope when it comes to the contribution of women in the study of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
This month, Lois became one of the selected few researchers who presented their research findings to members of the United Kingdom Parliament.
She was the only black woman researcher in the Engineering Science section of the presentation.
Lois, who is now researching on solar fuels and wastewater treatment, joined others researchers for the this year’s #STEMforBRITAIN2020 which was held in the UK House of Commons.
Her research presentation was on what is called the next generation smart potable water purification systems for wastewater treatment in Ghana.
With this research, Lois is working on developing materials that can purify water in the presence of sunlight.
In an interview with Kuulpeeps.com Lois highlighted the fact that other places in Ghana do not have access to potable water and that there is the need to develop sustainable means of purifying water for everyone.
“In Ghana and West Africa, we have abundant sunlight so being be able to tune material property to able to absorb a very high amount of the sun rays that will then be able to purify the wastewater is the goal,” she said.
“The next step of my research will look at community filed work and field support,” she added.
Lois explained that she is “looking at what our water system is and how the system I am developing which is called the photochemical reactor can fuse into the water purification system we have in Ghana.”
“It is about testing it on a small scale and scaling it up to affect a lot more communities,” she added.
Talking about the STEMforBritain event where she presented her work, Lois said the “experience was quite competitive.”
“A lot of people are doing extremely great things in research. I think it was a great experience,” she added.
However, the experience was also quite positive since she was given such an honour just seven months into her PhD.
“They mostly select people in their final year or are done with their PhD to present their work at this event. To have my work as part of them was quite a privilege,” Lois said feeling proud of what she has been able to achieve.
While at the event, Lois said she had people come to her commend her for her research.
“They believe it is helping to build a sustainable future,” Lois said.
The STEMforBritain is a prestigious platform where people show the various impactful research they are working on in Britain.
Researchers are selected by the Parliamentary Scientific Committee and they select the best out of the best to participate in the event.
The event is a platform where science or STEM researchers meet policymakers because they believe that science or engineering is one of the sectors that helps to develop the United Kingdom.
A number of British MPs were present at the event. Key among those who visited Lois’ presentation was the MP for Milton Keyes South Iain Stewart whose constituency is home to Lois’ school – The Open University Buckinghamshire.
Another key MP who visited Lois’ presentation is the MP for Streatham called Bellavia Ribeiro-Addy, she is of Ghanaian descent.
“She was there to give me support because she heard that I was a Ghanaian,” Lois said.
“I was the only black girl in my engineering sciences section during the presentation. So she came there to give me support and celebrate black and/or African excellence,” Lois explained.
Lois’ presentation was supervised by Prof. Satheesh Krishnamurthy of the School of Engineering and Innovation and it was funded by the Global Challenges Research Fund through The Open Univerity University Buckinghamshire.
The Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) is a £1.5 billion fund announced by the UK Government in late 2015 to support cutting-edge research that addresses the challenges faced by developing countries.
Lois’ research that would end up providing access to clean water and sanitation is part of the fund’s key touchpoints.
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