The Dr Theo George Wilson Lecture is the flagship event in IMSE's calendar of activities. It draws together a diverse audience from across Imperial’s student and staff body, as well as from our community of friends and stakeholders. Our objective is to inspire and engage the IMSE community by increasing its awareness of wider challenges and activities. This lecture is open to all.

Dr Theo George Wilson

The IMSE Annual Lecture is sponsored by Dr Theo George Wilson. Imperial alumnus Dr Wilson completed his PhD in the Department of Chemistry in 1952, and is now based in the US. True to IMSE’s spirit of collaboration, Theo decided to use his legacy gift to the College to help gather experts from different disciplines and from around the globe to deliver a prestigious series of lectures. Explaining his decision, Theo said: “I want to play a part in furthering the tradition of great scientific advances by Imperial. I hope my gift will be of great benefit to students in the future.”

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2023 Annual Lecture

To join this event please register through our Eventbrite page.

The lecture will be held in City and Guilds Building Lecture Theatre 200, Imperial College London, South Kensington Campus on Thursday 15 June 16.00-17.30. The lecture will also be accessible online through YouTube.

For those who can attend in person there will be a drinks reception after the lecture in the City and Guilds foyer just outside of the lecture theatre where you will be able to network with our speaker and other guests.

This lecture is open to all.

Before the lecture IMSE will be holding their first Water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) symposium. This event is designed to bring together a range of different people from Imperial and beyond to come together to network, find common areas of interest and learn more about the work surrounding water sanitation and hygiene.

To be invited to this event please email (Leah Adamson, IMSE Events and Communications Manager)


Most people don’t think about or don’t want to think about what happens to human waste- fecal material. Where do we poop, where does it go? This is a big, global problem: 2020 WHO/UNICEF data show that 3.6 billion people- 45% of the current global population- don’t use a toilet or latrine where the fecal material is safely treated and disposed. Similarly, access to clean drinking water is not universal. In 2020, 771 million people still lacked even a basic level of drinking water service. Every minute, one child dies from diarrheal diseases, which are strongly associated with poor water and lack of sanitation. More than one billion people in 14 countries suffer from neglected tropical diseases associated with poor water and sanitation, such as helminthiases, trachoma, and schistosomiasis. While disparities to access are evident, and most issues are in rural areas and Sub-Saharan Africa, there are also populations in developed countries without access to water and sanitation.  

The lack of success in meeting WaSH (water, sanitation, and hygiene) targets (identified in SDG6) highlights the complexity of the water and sanitation challenges. Technology is just one aspect: the interconnected impacts of culture, economics, policy, and human behavior on water and sanitation issues make the problems complicated. In this talk, key factors in systematically addressing WaSH challenges will be discussed. A focus will be discussing how innovation and community engagement can be harnessed to meet the global WaSH challenge.


Professor Francis de los Reyes is the Glenn E. and Phyllis J. Futrell Distinguished Professor of Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering and Alumni Distinguished Undergraduate Professor at North Carolina State University.  He is also Faculty in Microbiology and Biotechnology, and a University Faculty Scholar. He received his BS in Agricultural Engineering (magna cum laude) from the University of the Philippines-Los Baños, MS in Civil Engineering from Iowa State University, and PhD in Environmental Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

His research focuses on biological processes in waste/wastewater treatment and conversion to resources, environmental biotechnology and microbiology, and global water, sanitation, and health (WaSH) in low- and medium-income countries (LMICs). He has current research collaborations in the Philippines, India, China, South Africa, Pakistan, Kenya, Tanzania, and Malawi. He established and currently leads the Global WaSH Faculty cluster at NC State University and is leading a 6-university research center effort in WaSH infrastructure for underserved communities in the US and in LMICs. His research funding has been from the National Science Foundation, Gates Foundation, US Department of Agriculture, Environmental Research and Education Foundation, Water Resources Research Institute, utilities, and wastewater industries.

He is a TED Fellow, a WEF (Water Environment Federation) Fellow, and a Board Certified Environmental Engineer by Eminence by the American Academy of Environmental Engineers and Scientists (AAEES). In 2020, he was named Corresponding Member of the National Academy of Science and Technology of the Philippines. He has received awards for research, teaching, and service from the WEF, the AAEES, the Association of Environmental Engineering Science Professors, NC State University, the Philippine-American Academy of Scientists and Engineers, University of the Philippines, and the Department of Science and Technology of the Philippines. His sanitation projects have won the RELX Group Environmental Challenge Award and the US Patents for Humanity Award. Professor de los Reyes served on the editorial boards of Water Research and the Journal of Environmental Engineering and is currently on the Editorial Boards of SciEnggJ and Transactions of the NAST-PHL. He is on the Board of the non-profit Gawad Kalinga USA, which aims to combat poverty by transforming the lives for the poorest 5 million families in the Philippines.

Our distinguished speakers

2022: Sossina Haile: Electrochemistry for Green Energy Technologies

The 2022 Dr Theo George Wilson Annual Lecture was by Professor Sossina Haile. Professor Haile’s research broadly encompasses materials, especially oxides, for sustainable electrochemical energy technologies. Her work in fuel cell science and technology has pushed the field to new insights and record performance metrics. In parallel, she has created new avenues for harnessing sunlight to meet rising energy demands.

Watch Sossina Haile's lecture on YouTube


Sossina M. Haile is the Walter P. Murphy Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at Northwestern University, a position she assumed in 2015 after serving 18 years on the faculty at the California Institute of Technology. She earned her Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1992 and spent two years, 1991-1993, at the Max Planck Institute for Solid State Research in Stuttgart, Germany, first as a Fulbright Fellow then as a Humboldt Fellow.

Amongst her many awards, in 2008 Haile received an American Competitiveness and Innovation Fellowship from the U.S. National Science Foundation in recognition of “her timely and transformative research in the energy field and her dedication to inclusive mentoring, education and outreach across many levels.” In 2010 she was the recipient of the Chemical Pioneer Award (American Institute of Chemists), in 2012 the International Ceramics Prize (World Academy of Ceramics), and in 2020 the Turnbull Lectureship (Materials Research Society). She is a fellow of the Materials Research Society, the American Ceramics Society, the African Academy of Sciences, and the Ethiopian Academy of Sciences, and serves on the editorial boards of Annual Review of Materials Research, MRS Energy and Sustainability, and Joule. Her professional service includes past membership on the board of the Materials Research Society and current membership on the board of Ethiopia Education Initiatives.

2021: Teresa Lambe OBE: COVID-19 vaccines


The 2021 Dr Theo George Wilson Annual Lecture was by Professor Teresa Lambe OBE. Professor Teresa Lambe is a Principal Investigator/Group leader based at the Jenner Institute at the University of Oxford. She was at the forefront of the development of the Oxford–AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.

After the annual lecture there was an online "fireside discussion” with Professor Lambe and Imperial experts Professor James Moore JrDr Zoltán Kis and Dr Maria Papathanasiou

Watch Teresa Lambe's lecture on YouTube

2020: Saiful Islam: Making a Material Difference to Green Energy

Professor Saiful Islam

The 2020 Dr Theo George Wilson Annual Lecture was by Professor Saiful Islam. In 2020, Saiful was Professor of Materials Chemistry at the University of Bath. He became Professor of Materials Modelling at the University of Oxford in 2022. He gave the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures in 2016 for BBC TV. He sits on the Public Engagement Committee of the Royal Society and is a Patron of Humanists UK

Watch Saiful Islam's lecture on YouTube




2019: Tony Wood: Science and technology challenges in modern drug discovery and development

Science and technology challenges in modern drug discovery and development

Tony Wood gave the inaugural IMSE Annual Lecture in June 2019. At the time he was Senior Vice President for Medicinal Science & Technology at GSK. As of 2022 he is GSK's Chief Scientific Officer. He was elected a fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences in 2018 and is a member of the Scientific Advisory Panel of the British Pharmaceutical Society.

Read a news article about Tony Wood's lecture