An Evening of Inspiration at MIT Water Night
By Archana Apte, Communications and Program Assistant
March 3, 2019
The ninth annual Water Night, produced on February 26th, showcased MIT research and artistic talent, bringing together staff, students, and faculty from inside as well as outside the Institute. Water Night is an annual event produced by the MIT Water Club, a student-run organization supported by J-WAFS—one of the signature events that the group produces. Approximately 400 people attended the event to engage with and learn from over 50 presenters.
Water Night included a mix of artistic and scientific works. While the event included a greater number of projects that showcased scientific findings, event participants had the chance to view water-themed paintings and photographs and view water-themed videos that were historic, informational, and artistic. Among the research posters that were on display was a presentation of the J-WAFS-Solutions-funded Xylem water filter project, presented by MechE PhD candidate and 2018-2019 J-WAFS fellow Krithika Ramchander. Another project was Jennifer Bates’ paleobotany research. Bates, a postdoc at Brown University’s Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology and the Ancient World, identified a variety of ancient, domesticated rice in India. Her findings suggest that cultivated rice farming began in the Indus valley region over one thousand years earlier than previously thought.
The evening also included interactive installations, such as a demonstration of water currents that kids as well as adults played with throughout the night, and a blind water taste test. The taste test unveiled interesting and unexpected results that could be drawn upon to change consumers’ behaviors when it comes to making choices about purchased bottled water. The experience invited participants to compare the flavors of a variety of commercially available bottled waters—including Trader Joe’s and Evian—with Orange County recycled wastewater that is available for educational purposes and aquifer replenishment. The students running the experiment tracked results; by the end of the night the recycled wastewater was a strong contender for winner, beating out the imported, expensive bottled water brand Evian. In addition to the interactive presentations like these, attendees could also talk to representatives of various water-related NGOs and companies, whose tables were set up around the event hall to encourage networking between students and professionals.
The night continued with a keynote address by Richard Hyman (link to website), who was a part of the diving team that joined the sea explorer Jacques Cousteau on his voyages during the 70s and 80s. It culminated with judges ranking both the creative and scientific presentations. Overall, MIT Water Night 2019 was an engaging example of University contributions to water-related research and artistic expression.
Picture credits: 1) Archana Apte, J-WAFS; 2) MIT Water Club; 3) MIT Water Club.