Shavneet Mani’s paper was titled, “Assessment of fine particulate matter in heavy traffic areas in Fiji”.
He explained that fine particulate matter or PM2.5¬ are particles that have an aerodynamic diameter equal or less than 2.5 µm (about 28 times smaller than the average diameter of a human hair).
“PM2.5 is one of the largest environmental risk factors and has been associated with serious health conditions including respiratory diseases, asthma, cardiovascular diseases, cancer etc. Vehicular traffic is one of the largest sources of PM2.5 in urban environments globally.
“As such, we monitored PM2.5 and black carbon concentrations in heavy traffic areas in Suva and Lautoka cities. Lautoka was found to have high concentrations of PM2.5,” he said.
He noted that the data obtained through this study is essential in highlighting air pollution issues in Fiji and the Pacific and will be instrumental in policy formation with respect to air pollution and emissions as well as sustainable development.
Shavneet scooped the award out of all 150+ applications that were selected to present posters. The 70 best poster presentations were selected to compete in the Best of the Best (BBP) competition. Out of the 70, the best 40 were selected and were awarded with the best prize. These 40 were asked to do an oral presentation following which the best 10 were selected and awarded the BBP prize and medal.
Shavneet shared that receiving the award was not only a delightful moment as it came as a surprise.
“My supervisor, Dr. Francis Mani has always encouraged me to develop as a good researcher and pursue international standard research. He has always emphasised on our obligation as scientists to constantly improve on our research and make it meaningful to improve the lives of people, especially here in the Pacific,” he said.
When Shavneet presented at the congress, his motive was to make his research known and get feedback so that he could understand what is being done globally and how he could produce work of such standard with the resources available in Fiji.
He said that on a personal level, it had elevated his confidence especially since the other participants in his category were largely PhD students.
“I was one of the very few MSc students, and receiving the award has strengthened my perspective on the difference that I can make,” he said.
“Professionally, it was a splendid platform to develop as a researcher. I had the chance of observing the different types of research that are being conducted in my field of interest,” he noted.
This has given Shavneet insights on ways to build on his research here at USP.
“It has also helped me realise there is more work to be done and think of what more we can offer in terms of addressing air quality issues and data gaps in Pacific Island Countries,” he added.
Shavneet has advised his colleagues to invest their energy in making a difference by developing as researchers rather than just aiming for the prize.
“Just having your sights at the winning line deprives you of realising your own capability in going further than just the winning line,” he said.
Shavneet acknowledged USP’s Research Office and the Faculty of Science, Technology and Environment
(FSTE) for funding his travel and due credit to their research team, particularly his supervisor, Dr Francis Mani for instilling in them what it means to be a true scientist.
He hopes to do a PhD, continue research and provide data on air pollution and health risks in PICs, with an aim to reducing public health burden and promoting sustainable development of PICs.
His elated supervisor Dr Mani said the award was indicative of the fact that research at USP is not only dedicated to improving the lives of its member countries but is world class.