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Dec. 16, 2019

University of Portsmouth wins prestigious research award

University of PortsmouthThe University of Portsmouth has been awarded the 2019 Research Project of the Year (STEM) at the Times Higher Education (THE) Awards due to its pioneering research to help solve the global plastic pollution problem.

The research team at the University of Portsmouth has engineered a plastic-eating enzyme that can digest polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic, their is the type of plastic that is used to make 20,000 single-use plastic bottles every second worldwide. This exciting new discovery is paving the way for a more efficient method of recycling and helping solve the global plastic pollution problem.

Professor John McGeehan presented the team's research at the annual awards ceremony and was presented with the prize, along with his PhD student, Harry Austin and research colleagues from Diamond Light Source in Oxford.

Upon receiving his award, Professor McGeehan said: “One of the most powerful weapons we have to combat our ever-increasing plastic pollution problem is education. I am, therefore, particularly delighted to receive this award from Times Higher Education. Our aim is to translate our fundamental research on enzymes that breakdown a range of different plastics into real-world recycling solutions through innovation and international collaboration. It is fantastic to have this recognition and support as we continue to grow our team and disseminate our research.”

Vice Chancellor at the University of Portsmouth, Professor Graham Galbraith added, “It was a thrill to see our research on plastic-eating enzymes winning the Times Higher Education Award for Research Project of the Year. I am so proud that the outside world is starting to recognise the important research that takes place at Portsmouth. It is also significant that we were recognised above other shortlisted projects from research-intensive Russell Group universities like Exeter and Nottingham. If we want to realise our Vision for 2030 to become one of the world’s leading young universities, then research and innovation must be a focus.”

Professor McGeehan is the director of the University of Portsmouth’s recently-launched Centre for Enzyme Innovation, which was awarded £5.8 million from Research England to push this research forward, grow the international team, and potentially revolutionise the recycling process.

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Content added on 16th December 2019. 

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