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Babak Zolghadr-Asli, Postgraduate Researcher (QUEX Institute)

Babak Zolghadr-Asli - Water They Up To: CWS in the Spotlight

Postgraduate Researcher Babak Zolghadr-Asli shares his (many!) thoughts in this month's 'Water they up to: CWS in the Spotlight' feature.

What is your research about?

In a nutshell, hydro-informatics. The honest answer, however, is simply this: water-related stuff! Water engineering is supposed to be in and of itself a multidisciplinary subject, and any solution that doesn’t reflect this is arguably missing the point by a mile! So, because we cannot truly isolate our research matters, we must dabble with different topics, which is AWESOME! For the time being though, with the help of my supervisory team at Exeter University and Queensland University, Australia, as a part of my QUEX joint-PhD programme, we are exploring the potential behind desalination technology for irrigation purposes in a case study in Chile.

What is the most exciting part about your research?

From a young researcher standpoint [well, not so young anymore!], exploring these uncharted territories of our field (i.e. things that I would probably not have had a chance to study otherwise). But in the grand scheme of things, doing something that can make a difference - hopefully! We are facing serious problems that can jeopardise our food and water security, and there is a small window to address these issues. This window might be open for a long time and might not! So, the wise thing to do is take advantage of this unique opportunity we currently have and figure things out before it's too late.  

When thinking about water, what place comes to mind first and why?

Outer space! Weird, right? It shouldn’t be. One way or another, we have to become a multi-planet species. One of the many challenges in our path to getting there is to figure out a way to achieve sustainability in its true form. And water is an integral part of this. Colonising Mars for instance, is pointless - even if we can get people there in an economically feasible way - if we cannot create a self-sustaining water supply! Whatever we want to do there would require water: drinking, mining, agriculture, and so on and so forth! There is simply no way around this, which should be music to our ears because it means we will have job security in the future! 

Which movie or book character would you most associate with water?

Often people forget, and understandably so, that the theme of the second installment of the rebooted Bond movie franchise, “Quantum of Solace” [2008], was water and how this evil corporation was stilling water and storing it underground! I wanted to say spoiler alert, but if you haven’t watched it by now, then what are you doing with your life [not really, as this was arguably the worst one in the series, and this is NOT a controversial opinion by any stretch, believe you me! Also, for us, this movie could quite literally give us a heart attack by how stupidly they depicted the whole plot twist. I mean, you could have consulted with an engineer]. But to go with the outer space theme, we also have “The Martian” [2015], Ridley Scott’s science fiction bio-pic, based on a novel of the same name, that tells the tale of a stranded astronaut, played by Matt Damon, who has to survive the harsh environment of Mars on his own. In fact, there is a scene in which he has to figure out a way to solve both his food and water situation. For some reason, which is beyond me, it was categorized under the comedy/musical in the Gloden Globes that year and got Matt an award for his role. It is certainly not that, but for what it’s worth, I thought it was a half-decent movie that you could watch if you are into space stuff! 

View Babak's profile.

Date: 21 March 2023

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