WEF Member Receives 2012 Clarke Prize for Nanotechnology Research

February 4, 2013

Achievements, Featured

From left, James Irvine Swinden and Toni Smith present Pedro Alvarez with the Clarke Prize medallion on behalf of the Joan Irvine Smith and Athalie R. Clarke Foundation (Newport Beach, Calif.),which helped establish the prize. Photo courtesy of the National Water Research Institute (Fountain Valley, Calif.).

From left, James Irvine Swinden and Toni Smith present Pedro Alvarez with the Clarke Prize medallion on behalf of the Joan Irvine Smith and Athalie R. Clarke Foundation (Newport Beach, Calif.),which helped establish the prize. Photo courtesy of the National Water Research Institute (Fountain Valley, Calif.).

Pedro J.J. Alvarez, George R. Brown Professor of Engineering at Rice University (Houston) and Water Environment Federation (WEF; Alexandria, Va.) member since 1993, received the 2012 National Water Research Institute (NWRI; Fountain Valley, Calif.) Athalie Richardson Irvine Clarke Prize.

“I am proud to be affiliated with WEF since I was a graduate student and to currently serve on the Academic Relations Committee, as well as a WEF Fellow,” Alvarez said. “The Clarke Prize builds on prior recognitions from prestigious institutions, such as WEF. I was honored and humbled to have been a co-recipient of WEF’s McKee Medal for Groundwater Protection, Restoration, or Sustainable Use, and of a best student paper award [in 1997].”

The Clarke Prize recognizes Alvarez’s global leadership and contributions to enhancing water pollution control, especially in the areas of bioremediation and environmental nanotechnology, according to an NWRI news release. The annual prize, which consists of a medallion and $50,000, recognizes research accomplishments that solve real-world water problems and highlight the importance and need for continual funding of this research, the news release says.

Pedro J.J. Alvarez, George R. Brown Professor of Engineering at Rice University (Houston) and Water Environment Federation (Alexandria, Va.) member since 1993, received the 2012 Athalie Richardson Irvine Clarke Prize for his global leadership and contributions to enhancing water pollution control. Photo courtesy of Jeff Fitlow, Rice University.

Pedro J.J. Alvarez, George R. Brown Professor of Engineering at Rice University (Houston) and Water Environment Federation (Alexandria, Va.) member since 1993, received the 2012 Athalie Richardson Irvine Clarke Prize for his global leadership and contributions to enhancing water pollution control. Photo courtesy of Jeff Fitlow, Rice University.

Alvarez spoke at the NWRI Clarke Prize lecture and award ceremony on Nov. 2. His lecture, “Convergence of Nanotechnology and Microbiology: Emerging Opportunities for Water Disinfection, Microbial Control, and Integrated Urban Water Management,” highlighted capabilities for nanotechnology to disinfect drinking water and treat wastewater for reuse, the news release says.

During the lecture, Alvarez explained that many nanomaterials have antimicrobial properties that can be used to enhance existing treatment processes or develop new processes for microbial control. He also identified challenges to implementing nanotechnology-enabled applications, such as high costs of nanomaterials and risks to human or environmental health from the accidental release of nanomaterials, which are areas for additional research and assessment. He predicts that nanotechnology will be critical in providing reliable access to safe and affordable water during this century, the news release says.

Alvarez joined Rice in 2004 and has taken a lead in evaluating environmental effects of nanotechnology. For more information, read his biography and the text of the Clarke lecture.

Jennifer Fulcher, WEF Highlights

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