Over the next few weeks, we’d like to introduce you to some new faces on the GfGD blog, bringing fresh ideas and perspectives on topics relating to geoscience and sustainable development. We’re delighted to have their input and look forward to their posts. Today we interview Hannah Ritchie – a PhD student doing research in WASH (WAter, Sanitation & Hygiene).
Tell us a bit about yourself
Hi, I’m Hannah Ritchie, a PhD student at Cranfield University. I’m very excited to be writing for GfGD and using my passion for geology, development and WASH to help communicate current issues and emerging themes in these fields. I believe geoscience has a key role to play in many of the Sustainable Development Goals and I would like to use my involvement with GfGD to explore this further.
In my spare time I love trail running, and when not running, can probably be found reading or talking about running! I also just love to be by the sea and being outdoors, whether walking, exploring or just relaxing.
What is your academic background?
I graduated in 2018 with a B.Sc. in Applied Geology from Exeter University. Following this, I travelled in India, before working as an environmental geologist in contaminated land for a year. Throughout my undergraduate degree, I always knew that I didn’t want to go down the mining or oil and gas route. I enjoyed studying hydrogeology and have always wanted to use my skills in geoscience to positively impact the environment and society.
As a result of these interests, I have just started a four year PhD in WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) at Cranfield. I feel this is a perfect opportunity to develop my knowledge around water and international development as it has incorporated Master’s modules in community development, health, humanitarian work, water resource engineering and wastewater treatment.
In my PhD, I hope to look at the issue of salinity in Sand Dams in Kenya and further afield. Sand dams are small dams across ephemeral streams, which allow storage of water in the accumulated sand, providing communities with a source of water in the dry season. This topic has sparked my interest as it will allow me to explore the importance of geology in delivering a reliable water supply in semi-arid regions, where water is greatly compromised. I also hope to study the impact that the dams are having on communities, as well as their long-term suitability.
How and why did you get involved with GfGD?
I was an ambassador for GfGD whilst studying at Exeter and helped to set up and run the GfGD society there. Coming back to GfGD now is really exciting for me. I have attended multiple GfGD conferences in the last few years and am happily surprised each time to learn of different ways in which geoscience can help aid development. I have always felt that the work GfGD does is quite unique in the geoscience sector and therefore very critical. I would love to see more geoscience students engaged in more ethical careers and hope that through the conferences, student groups, blog and resources that more students and young professionals will understand the importance of geosciences, development and environmental issues.
What themes/topics are you interested in and may like to write about in the future?
I’m really excited to write about many topics, including hydrogeology, emerging concerns in WASH, rural water supply, natural hazards, climate change and development issues. I would like to look at the overlap between geosciences and the WASH sector, focussing on the importance of improving access to adequate water and sanitation for all. I am also keen to look in more depth at the role that NGO’s play in the development and humanitarian sector, alongside the complex issues of politics, aid and capacity building of local governments.
I hope that my PhD research over the next few years will inspire some of my blog posts. I am also very open to exploring a wide range of themes and hope to write on current issues, taking inspiration from news items and cutting edge research.
Plans for the future?
I am unsure exactly what I would like to do in the future. However, I know that I would like to work in water and sanitation in some capacity within the Global South, either in the development or humanitarian sector. However, for now, I am happy focusing on my research, developing skills and promoting sustainable development.
Hannah Ritchie can be contacted via Twitter: @Hannah_Nicola01 or email: hannah.ritchie[at]cranfield.ac.uk
**This article expresses the personal opinions of the author (Hannah Ritchie). These opinions may not reflect an official policy position of Geology for Global Development. **