News Winners announced for the 2021 J-WAFS World Water Day video competition: MIT research for a water secure future

Students from across the Institute are working to solve our water-sector challenges, applying multidisciplinary approaches to create innovative solutions.

March 30, 2021

Monday, March 22nd, 2021 was World Water Day, an international day launched by the United Nations to advocate for sustainable water use and equitable water access.  This day is about both inspiration and action to motivate people all over the world to tackle the global water crisis. 

For me, water means protection.  A well-managed water cycle – encompassing drinking water, sanitation, hygiene, wastewater, transboundary governance, the environment and more – means a defense against ill-health and indignity and a response to challenges from a changing climate and increasing global demand.

—UN Secretary-General António Guterres

Headshot of António Guterres

This year, J-WAFS joined the United Nations and the 150+ countries, ministries, research agencies, and organizations celebrating World Water Day with “MIT Research for a Water Secure Future,” a video competition showcasing the many exciting ways MIT students, post-docs, and recent alumni are applying the Institute’s expertise and research capabilities to the world’s water challenges.  Their work was reviewed by a distinguished group of judges comprising water sector and science communications experts from across academia, the non-profit sector, and industry.  

The video submissions we received illustrate a wide variety of research-based solutions responding to the challenges named by the UN Secretary-General and more.  MIT is fortunate to have such dedicated students applying knowledge toward developing cross-sector water innovations and solutions.  Including materials scientists, mechanical engineers, systems analysts, business students, and more, what they all share is a passion to solve hard problems for the betterment of humanity.  

Below you will find the research videos that received awards as well as the full list of video submissions.   

First Place Winner

Inventing Adaptive Hydraulics to Improve Pump Efficiency

Hilary Johnson, PhD Candidate, Department of Mechanical Engineering

Second Place Winner

Growing Living Smart Filters from Kombucha Cultures

Zijay Tang, Recent Alum, Department of Biological Engineering


Third Place Winner

Treating Water from the Bottom Up

Ty Christoff-Tempesta, PhD Candidate, Department of Materials Science and Engineering

Judges Choice Award: Creative Communication 

ICPWaterTech: Portable Desalination Unit

Junghyo Yoon, Post-doctoral Researcher, Research Laboratory of Electronics

Judges Choice Award: Potential for Impact

Rethinking Waste: Powering Desalination with Aluminum Waste

Peter Godart, PhD Candidate, Department of Mechanical Engineering

Judges Choice Award: Elegant Solution

Improving Renewable Energy and Desalination

Grace Connors, Masters Student, GEAR Lab

Judges Choice Award: Research Originality

3D Water Biofab: Removing Inorganic Micropollutants from Drinking Water

Filippos Tourlomousis, Post-doctoral Researcher, Center for Bits and Atoms

Patritsia Stathatou, Visiting Scholar, Center for Bits and Atoms

Moving Towards Ocean IoT

Sayed Saad Afzal, PhD Candidate, Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
Waleed Akbar, Masters Student, Media Lab 
Osvy Rodriguez, Undergraduate Student, Media Lab

Judges Choice Award: Potential for Scalability

Micelle-laden Microparticles for Water Purification

Devashish Gokhale, PhD Candidate, Department of Chemical Engineering

Judges Choice Award: Raising Awareness

MIT Water Club Blind Taste Test

Andrew Bouma, PhD Candidate, Department of Mechanical Engineering