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Kevin McGuigan

Scientist, leading expert on solar water disinfection, speaker.

World class science communicator and researcher specialising in the development of solar water disinfection technology for the developing world.

Professor Kevin McGuigan is an accomplished scientist who specialises in solar water disinfection. He is the Director of the RCSI Solar Disinfection Research Group, which develops sustainable technology to combat waterborne disease in developing countries.

The World Health Organisation say that over two million people per year die due to waterborne diseases and lack of access to clean water in the developing world. The work with creating affordable, accessible and sustainable technologies to disinfect water literally saves lives, and Kevin is experienced with coordinating and running multi-disciplinary field studies to evaluate the success of these solar disinfection technologies.

He has completed health impact studies in Uganda, Kenya, Zimbabwe, South Africa, and Cambodia, and his research on solar water disinfection in the developing world has been featured as a TEDx talk in Dublin in 2014, as well as on screen on RTE TV’s Science Squad and EuroNews, plus across other media including radio and internet.

Kevin’s talks are humorous but underpinned by real science and life experience.

Kevin is a Fellow of the Institute of Physics (FinstP) and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry (FRSC). He is also an Associate Professor at RCSI Department of Physiology & Medical Physics, the Vice Dean of RCSI School of Medicine and the Director of the RCSI Foundation Year, as well as an Adjunct Professor of Medical Physics with the School of Physical Sciences at Dublin City University. He has published more than 60 refereed articles in peer-reviewed international journals, and he has supervised 8 PhD and 3 MSc projects. Furthermore, he was the very first recipient of the Higher Doctorate in Science ever awarded by Dublin City University in recognition of his substantial contribution to scientific knowledge in his field.    


KEY SCIENTIFIC ACHIEVEMENTS (in reverse chronological order):

2014. Fellowship of the Royal Society of Chemistry (FRSC).  In January 2014 I was invited to become a Fellow of the RSC. The fellowship was offered on the basis of my position as a “Leader in the Field” of water remediation technologies in the developing world, which is a topic of intense interest to the RSC which has invited me to give keynote and plenary talks at conferences and workshops that they have run in Kenya, Ethiopia and India over the past 5 years.

2013. “Higher Doctorate in Science (DSc). Recipient in November 2013 of the first ever Higher Doctorate in Science (DSc) awarded by Dublin City University. The degree was awarded for “sustained and significant contributions to science”. The DSc is the highest academic qualification that can be awarded by any Irish university and is equivalent to the German or French “habilitation” or the Swedish “Docent

2011. Anthropometric Benefit of SODIS for Child Development. In 2011 we published results of the first trial to show evidence of a positive effect of SODIS on childhood anthropometry. Measurements of weight and height showed median height-for-age was significantly increased in those children under age 5 on SODIS, corresponding to an average of 0.8 cm over a 1-year period over the group as a whole (95% CI 0.7 to 1.6 cm, P = 0.031). While these results initially sparked intense debate they were subsequently corroborated in a Cochrane Review meta-analysis (Dangour et al. 2013)

2010. First SODIS Multi-Country Field Trial. Overall Principal Investigator/coordinator of the first ever large scale multi-country (Cambodia, Kenya, S. Africa, Zimbabwe), randomized controlled field trial of SODIS. Brought this to a successful completion and  demonstrated that SODIS produced a significant reduction in incidence of childhood dysentery among children in Sub-Sharan African and S. E. Asian communities (Environ Sci Technol. (i) 2010; 44(22):8744-9; (ii) 2011a;45(18):7862-67; (iii) 2011b:45(21);9315–23).

2008. Advisor on Post-Disaster Planning Mexico. I was invited to Mexico to brief Dr. Alvaro Quintano Ryu the Minister of Health for the Mexican State of Yucatan and the Governor of the Mexican State of Chiapas on how Solar Disinfection could be best used as a post-hurricane emergency intervention against waterborne disease for those people living in regions subject to devastation caused by hurricanes each year. I viewed that invitation as both a great honour and recognition of my status in the field of household water treatment.

2007. Representing European-funded water based research. To celebrate World Water Day (March 21st) 2007 the European Community Research Directorate selected the SODISWATER Project from all FP6 EU-funded research projects to feature in a 9 minute FUTURIS documentary piece on the EuroNews Channel highlighting European-funded water based research assisting communities in Developing Countries. Throughout the Spring and Summer of 2007 this documentary, titled “A Maasailand Dream”, was aired in 7 languages all over Europe. This EuroNews documentary subsequently won the Best short video Award at the 2008 “Vedere la Scienza” The same Futuris also won “une Mention Spéciale” in 2008 Prix Reporters d´Espoir, sponsored by Le Courier International. More info on http://www.reportersdespoirs.org/prix/2008/reportages_nomines/paix.html

2006. First RCSI EU FP Project Coordinator. First RCSI researcher to coordinate a European Union Framework Programme grant. (FP6-INCO-2006-031650-SODISWATER €1.9M)

2006. SODIS reduces microbial pathogenicity. Demonstrated that bacterial and protozoan pathogens subjected to incomplete SODIS inactivation experience significant reductions in pathogenicity and consequently SODIS provides a benefit even under cloudy conditions ( Appl. Microbiol. 2006;101(2):453-63).

2006. Representing Life Science Research at COST 50th Anniversary Exhibition. In celebration of 30 years of the European Union/European Science Foundation Cooperation in Science & Technology (COST) funding programme, an exhibition was held in the European Parliament Building in Brussels in April 2006 to highlight research funded by this programme. From the 9 Research Domains and over 200 COST-funded Scientific Actions (each Action involving on average researchers from 20 European and Associated State nations), my SODIS research was the first of only fifteen projects selected to exhibit. In addition this was the only life sciences project to be selected

2001. SODIS efficacy “in a time of cholera”. Demonstrated that children who drank solar disinfected (SODIS) water were ~7 times less likely to contract cholera than children who did not use SODIS, during an outbreak in rural Kenya in 2000, (Arch. Dis. Child., 2001:85, 293-295).

1998. Identifying SODIS mechanism of action. Completed the first in-depth analysis of the mechanism of SODIS inactivation in terms of optical effect, thermal effect and synergistic interactions between these ( Appl. Microbiol. 1998;84(6):1138-48).

1996. First SODIS Field Trial. Completed the first ever randomized controlled trial of SODIS which conclusively proved that SODIS had a direct beneficial effect on diarrheal rates. Results were published in Lancet (Lancet 996;348:1695-97).


    Keynote Topics:

    • Science
    • Science communication
    • Research in developing countries
    • Multi-disciplinary research
    • Collaboration
    • International research
    • Waterborne disease
    • Sustainable technologies
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