Young scientists spread Department of Water expertise overseas
Released 06 Jan 2008
Three young environmental scientists from the Department of Water will share their expertise and knowledge of water issues when they head overseas as youth ambassadors in early March.
Emma Ligtermoet and Peter Novak from the water science branch and Maia Williams from salinity and water resource recovery, both branches of the division of water resource management – pulled off a trifecta when they applied to the AusAid initiated Australian Youth Ambassadors for Development program.
The AYAD program funds skilled 18 – 30-year-old Australians to work on short-term assignments in developing Asia-Pacific countries. The volunteers work with local host organisations in positions covering a wide range of fields from health and environment to gender and justice work.
Peter will be heading to Beijing for 12 months to work with Wetlands International. His main role will be to support the professional development of staff in the office in their work to enhance conservation and sustainable use of wetlands in China.
Peter said his project included supporting the use of wetlands inventory and monitoring practices, introducing Australian approaches to wetlands management and staff development and aiding the development of new collaborative projects.
"China is a fascinating country with a complex culture and incredible history," Peter said. "To be able to spend time living and experiencing this culture and also to learn a new language will be fantastic."
Emma will live in Laos while she carries out her work as a wildlife conservation research coordinator with the Wildlife Conservation Society.
She will assist in managing the 2008 student research program, developing an introductory training toolkit for WCS staff on research design, sampling and analysis, as well as building the capacity of Lao National University student and WCS staff to collect and analyse data and present results.
"I'm excited by the opportunity to assist WCS and the Lao researchers in their goals, I think it will be very rewarding work," Emma said. "I'm looking forward to working in a cross-cultural environment, as well as exploring the Mekong and mountainous jungles of Laos."
Maia Williams will travel to almost the climatic opposite of Laos when she leaves in early March to work at the Institute of Geo-ecology at the Mongolian Academy of Sciences in Ulaanbaatar. She will work with the institute's division of water research group on water management in arid areas in a project involving investigating surface water management methods and identifying which are applicable to Mongolia.
"Part of my work will be to introduce researchers to Australian best practice water management/use/harvesting methods and advise of Australian resources and/or publications which may be useful to the group," Maia said.
"I hear that it is possible to live in a 'ger' on the outskirts of the city during summer," she said. "Brilliant! I may yet acquire a pet yak. The prospect of living in a very isolated country with such a rich history is entirely exciting."
Contact: Peter Collins
Phone: (08) 6364 6848 / 0434 603 441