UCL News


Spotlight on... Luiza Campos

11 June 2020

This week we meet Luiza Campos, Associate Professor in Environmental Engineering at the Department of Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering (CEGE). Here, Luiza chats to us about working in Brazil and being awarded Innovation network funding by UCL Innovation & Enterprise.

Luiza Campos

What is your role and what does it involve?

I’m an Associate Professor in Environmental Engineering at the Department of Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering (CEGE). I’m fully involved in teaching, research and enabling activities. I have been teaching Water and Wastewater Treatment and Appropriate Technologies in Practice for third-year, MEng, and Master's students. It’s exciting to have students from different departments (CEGE, Chemical Engineering and Biochemical Engineering) attending my module on water and wastewater treatment. 

I’m also co-Chair of the Grand Challenge of Human Wellbeing Working Group, and co-Director of the Centre for Urban Sustainability and Resilience. External activities involve being a member of the Editorial Boards for the Water Processing Engineering (Elsevier) and Municipal Engineer Journal (ICE). 

My research lies within water and sanitation systems with particular interest on designing, testing, implementing technologies and tools to reduce environmental pollution and enhance human health and wellbeing. 

I’m very interested in natural and sustainable materials to lower the cost of water treatment. For instance, we have explored the use of iron nails in Fenton process, cork and biochar for water purification. For the past five years, we have been exploring the use of vertical hydroponics for water purification and food production in both rural and urban contexts. This vertical hydroponic system can be adapted for various applications, including runoff and air purification. 

I’m currently leading a project developing a microbial fuel cell (MFC) system integrating wastewater treatment, energy generation, and biogas production or plant cultivation. Through a Sustainable Cities & Transformative Technology Grand Challenge fund, we are building an MFC prototype in partneship with colleagues from the UCL Slade School of Fine Art, Electrochemical Innovation Laboratory and Institute of Education. Overall, I’m interested in multidisciplinary projects that involve collaborations with other disciplines such as Chemistry, Electrochemical, Microbiology, Biology, Social Sciences, Art, Education and Policy.

How long have you been at UCL and what was your previous role?

I have been at UCL since September 2007. Previously, I was a lecturer in the Department of Civil Engineering at the Federal University of Goias, Brazil (1996–2006). Before moving to academia, I worked as an engineer for the water company of Goias State (SANEAGO) in Brazil during 1986-1996) where I gained a vast experience on operation and maintenance of water and wastewater network systems, and optimisation design of water treatment plants. Having previous experience of working in industry makes me passionate for applied research.

What working achievement or initiative are you most proud of?

My collaborators and I have recently been awarded Innovation network funding by UCL Innovation & Enterprise (UCL I&E) via the EPSRC Impact Acceleration Account to establish The Southeast and London Water Alliance (SEAL) which provides a forum for knowledge-exchange on problem-oriented topics, innovative solutions and thought leadership. The aim of SEAL is to link a diverse regional community of experts united by the common mission of generating transformative research and operational and policy impacts, which highlight water as a fundamental agent of change.

The network idea builds on the relationship between UCL and Queen Mary University of London and their mutual interests around water research. During the past 20 months I worked with Professor Dan Osborn (Earth Science, Environment Domain), Dr Becca Burns (OVPR, Environment domain) and Dr Laura Bovo (UCL I&E, Innovation Network Manager), to develop and shape this network idea.  

Initial engagement activities included: 

  • Water and Wellbeing: Scoping a London Water Network – 19 July 2019 – held at UCL, and funded by the UCL Grand Challenges Environment and Wellbeing call.
  • The South East & London Water Alliance (SEAL): Developing an innovation network – 25 September 2019 – held at UCL, and funded by UCL Innovation & Enterprise via the UCL EPSRC Impact Acceleration Account.
  • Core Stakeholder Policy/Strategy Roundtable – 18 March 2020 – held remotely via Zoom, and funded by the UCL Public Policy (OVPR) via the EPSRC Impact Acceleration Account 2017–20.

I really enjoyed working with these colleagues and I value their support on the development, implementation, and operationalisation of the SEAL network which is very relevant for the UK and beyond, given the current prospects of climate change impacts on water quality and quantity. 

Tell us about a project you are working on now which is top of your to-do list?

Now that we have been awarded Innovation network funding to support further SEAL activities, there is a lot to organise and deliver – we are aiming to create a dedicated website, recruit a network manager and design a series of workshops.
The SEAL Alliance seeks to deliver impact across three scales: local, regional and international, uniting water researchers and academics, policymakers, industry experts and utility representatives across the London and South East England geographic area. It will offer a platform to share technology trends, opportunities and challenges within the sector and across communities. Together, we will deliver the evidence base and solutions required to tackle water’s ‘wicked problems’: changing water cycles and rising sea levels; increasing urbanization and manipulation of water flow; and the degradation of water quality and aquatic ecosystems.

We are committed to promoting multi-disciplinary, multi institutional water focussed research which has real world policy and stakeholder linkages. We are therefore keen to reach out to and welcome new collaborators and would like to hear from either UCL academics, or potential external partners (who are interested in learning more about this initiative or taking part in our network. So, if you are interested in getting involved, please email us, using the link at the bottom of this page, adding SEAL in the subject line.

Finally, I am looking forward to sharing more news about the formal launch of SEAL Alliance later in 2020 and our full programme of activities. So, watch this space…!

What is your favourite album, film and novel?

The Blessing, by Elevation Worship because it is always positive to think and desire good things for our day and future, including our generations.

The English Patient, produced by Saul Zaentz – first because I enjoy “love story” type films, and second because it has beautiful pictures of the Sahara Desert in Egypt.

The Testament, by John Grisham, which I read a long time ago but really enjoyed. 

What is your favourite joke (pre-watershed)?

I don’t have a favourite joke, but I can have a good laugh when I understand them!

Who would be your dream dinner guests?

My parents, who never visited my home in the UK

What advice would you give your younger self?

Follow your dreams, work hard and persevere to achieve them. 

What would it surprise people to know about you?

Knowing my age – I am 55!

What is your favourite place?

Although I love travelling and discovering new places around the world, my favourite place is still my home. It is where my heart is.