What do you do?
I’m a Water Resources Engineer in the Water Management Group at HR Wallingford, and I do quite a lot of technical work that includes coding, data processing and running various models, but also project management, writing reports and proposals. My role involves assessing the impacts of climate change on water resources and water availability, with a particular focus on developing countries. I’m also currently managing a large international project with an interdisciplinary team.
What education and training do you have?
I have an MEng in Civil Engineering from the National Technical University of Athens. After taking some water-related classes, I wanted to further my interest in water resources engineering, so I followed my degree with an MSc in water resources, science and technology from the same university. I then specialised further by undertaking a PhD in Hydrology at Imperial College, London.
What do you particularly enjoy about your job?
My job involves working on a large variety of projects, so it brings different opportunities and challenges. I particularly enjoy the challenge of solving complex problems, and the opportunity to learn new things. I have travelled to India, Uganda and Vietnam to work on projects, and it is very rewarding to have the chance to make a difference in countries that may be suffering from extreme weather events, such as droughts and floods.
What inspired you to become an engineer?
I was a teenager in Athens in 1999 when one of the most devastating earthquakes to hit Greece took place. I saw the widespread structural damage which trapped many people under the rubble of collapsed buildings, resulting in 143 people losing their lives and 1,600 being treated for their injuries. The financial cost was estimated at over $3 billion. This event really helped me to appreciate the role of engineering and the value of engineers. I already loved maths and problem solving, so I decided to take a degree in civil and environmental engineering.
Tell us about a project you have worked on
At the moment, I am working on two UK Space Agency-funded projects, which use Earth Observation Data to help developing counties to meet their Sustainable Development Goals. One is building a drought and flood early warning system for Uganda, and my role is to develop the hydrological modelling part of the early warning platform. This will help the country to prepare and plan for extreme weather events, and potentially reduce their impact on people and the economy. I am also the project manager of an interdisciplinary team that is developing a Dengue fever early warning system for Vietnam. By predicting areas of high risk for Dengue fever outbreaks in Vietnam, the project aims to reduce the spread of an epidemic and to increase disease control.
What are you particularly proud of?
My PhD on modelling the impacts of climate change and land-use change on the hydrology of the Ganges River in India. It gave me the chance to pursue a career in an environment that combines research with industry.
What would you say to girls interested in becoming engineers?
Realise that you’re capable of achieving whatever you set your mind to, if you’re passionate about it. Don’t be afraid of seeking support from people who inspire you, and get involved in STEM activities. There are so many roles and opportunities for women in engineering, and engineering is a career where the sky is the limit!