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Passionate about making a real difference in this world, Bachelor of Civil Engineering student Natalie Kho undertook the Monash Engineering Summer Research Program. Natalie spent 12 weeks over her summer break measuring how climate change and extreme weather events (such as bushfires, floods, and drought) impact stream water quality.
As part of the program, Natalie worked with an international team of researchers from Monash University, the University of Melbourne, Charles Darwin University, the University of New South Wales, and several other European institutions. The collaborative project hopes to protect precious water resources from future extreme weather events.
“It was a new experience,” says Natalie. “I wanted to see if a career in research could be for me. I got to learn a new coding language and work with an excited and talented research team.”
Over the 12 weeks, Natalie conducted riverine water quality research with data from over 102 sites around Victoria measuring water quality parameters such as nutrients and sediments. “Climate change is increasing the severity and frequency of drought, floods, and bushfires. So knowing where water quality is most vulnerable is the first step to managing the impact of such extreme weather events.”
Taking on a summer research project saw Natalie step outside of her comfort zone. “I came to appreciate the patience research requires; it’s a non-linear process. Learning this was a highlight for my personal growth,” remarks Natalie.
Natalie worked under the guidance of Dr. Anna Lintern, water engineering researcher and lecturer from the Department of Civil Engineering, who is a member of the collaborative research project to understand and predict catchment-scale water quality.
“Natalie’s been great in taking initiative in teaching herself how to use new skills and concepts. Her work will contribute to community awareness of what might happen to our water resources in the future, so that we can start implementing catchment management strategies to minimise the risk of poor water quality.
Summer research students have been critical in moving research projects forward. They bring a fresh perspective, and their enthusiasm always energises me and motivates me to think about the project in a new way. I've been really impressed with the high quality of students that the summer research program attracts and I am looking forward to working with more excellent students next summer!”
Now open for applications, the 2020-2021 Summer Research Program offers a choice of 75 engineering research projects to eligible students. Applications close Friday 2 October.