Let’s get the basics. Name, where you are from, and your current affiliation and advisor?
Hi, my name is Sarpong Hammond Antwi. I am originally from Ashanti Region, Ghana. I received an MSc in Energy Policy from the Pan African University (Institute of Water and Energy Sciences), in Tlemcen, Algeria, in 2019 and currently I am a PhD candidate at Dundalk Institute of Technology, Ireland. I am advised by Dr Suzanne Linnane, Dr David Getty and Dr Alec Rolston.
What is the research you are currently working on?
My PhD research focuses on water governance and management in the Republic of Ireland. I use a mixed method approach under a theory of change influence to assess the changes in policies and management practices and how this impacts water availability amidst climatic changes, demographic and economic growth, agricultural and land use changes.
What do you wish you had known when you started your graduate/academic career?
My exposure to research during my bachelor’s and master program and internship with the Netherlands Development Organization and the Liechtenstein Institute for Strategic Development gave me some research experience. Whereas these experiences gave me some edge in what to expect, the timeliness, the scope of literature and the amount of data to analyse required a high level of consistency and different approaches to tease out results.
In all of this, I really wished I knew work-life balance, thus knowing when to close the laptop and take some time off from research. I spent most of my time working with limited social life which was further compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown restrictions. But I quickly picked up the pieces and now I work according to specific schedules.
If you were not a young hydrologist, what would you be doing?
I love the social engagement that comes with working with people of diverse backgrounds, so I could have been facilitating community development and engagements of various kinds. Even with my current research and scope of work, I still try to rope in such a perspective because I believe the ultimate goal of all scientific study and research should be to touching positively the fibre of society.
What got you started on this current research? Was there some epiphany or light bulb moment?
My story is quite fascinating each time I tell it. The electricity crises in 2015-16 in Ghana inspired me to take up energy policy for my masters degree. It was during my master studies that I realized that water-energy nexus is key to socio-economic development. Unfortunately, these two essential aspects are treated separately, especially in developing countries. Delving into water management and governance was to therefore complement my interest in water-energy-climate nexus and to develop my research skills required to facilitate sustainable development.
What’s your dream job, academic or otherwise?
I am always interested in policy and social implication of environmental issues that affect communities. Any job or opportunity that draws me closer and challenges me to find solutions in such areas will be of interest to me.
What is your favorite non-traditional source of science news (blog, podcast, etc)?
I have subscribed to a number of email alerts where I get up-to-date information on the environment but I think smartwatermagazine offers me more tailored updates and advances in the water and environmental sector.
What do you find most exciting about your research topic/work? This could be societal impact, novel aspects of your own work, novel aspects of others’ work that you would like to highlight, anything that gets you motivated to start the day.
My PhD research will be the first-known assessment of the changes in water governance and management practices in the Republic of Ireland, highlighting significant events and preparedness for future challenges. The research allows me to meet and speak to key water sector actors and share my research findings and knowledge towards the development of policies on drought communication and River Basin Management planning. It also gives me the opportunity to disseminate my findings through open-access publications and conferences, with great level of support from my supervisory team while growing my network.
Who is your role model in science and why? What makes you admire them?
I have a lot of scientific role models but if pushed to settle on one or two, I will pick Dr. Patrick Bresnihan and Prof Dr Jill Slinger. How they simplify complex science and insights across interdisciplinary fields inspires me.