World Water Week Insights
By Lauren McGregor
The forWater Network, as part of their mandate, trains young professional researchers through a series of educational and collaborative opportunities. Master’s and PhD students participate to further their understanding of the water industry and its intersections with land management and climate change impacts. For world water week, two young professionals from the Network share how this unique training model positions them for success in their future careers.
Lauren McGregor shares how her Master’s research focused on biofiltration of wildfire-impacted water was improved by the collaborations that resulted from her participation in the Network.
My involvement with the forWater Network has emphasized the immense value of transdisciplinary partnerships. As a student who is relatively new to water research, my unique experiences with the Network have not only advanced my academic work and professional development, but have also served to ground my research in relevant drinking water industry challenges.
The forWater Network brings together international researchers, industry professionals, and non-profit organizations to tackle complex challenges faced by the water industry as a result of climate change impacts. Its scope spans from source waters to taps, and bridges the gap between forest management and water quality and treatability. This is no small feat as these disciplines have traditionally not always been aligned. The unique nature of the Network has allowed me to conduct research at the intersection of environmental engineering and biology. Stepping into this transdisciplinary space has been a rare and exciting opportunity that has enhanced my research tremendously. For example, I have been able to leverage the power of modern genetic sequencing tools with an understanding of their practical limitations, ensuring that my work is deductive and meaningful.
"The unique nature of the Network has allowed me to conduct research at the intersection of environmental engineering and biology. Stepping into this transdisciplinary space has been a rare and exciting opportunity that has enhanced my research tremendously", shares McGregor.
Exposure to a broad scope of research has greatly improved my ability to overcome traditional subject matter silos. Presentations given by Network members provide insight into topics that are outside, but intrinsically linked to, my research. Foundational knowledge in watershed science, forest management, and source water protection provides much needed perspective to my work in water treatment. Instead of being limited to literature reviews, I have heard researchers discuss the significance of their findings and recommendations at length, as well as the obstacles they faced and how they overcame challenges. Events such as the annual conference hosted by the Network have allowed me to gain skills in presenting to multistakeholder audiences and to receive feedback from water practitioners. Their insights have helped refine my research objectives to increase the impact of my findings and the applicability to industry.
As I navigate the path to a career as a water industry professional, I have gained a deeper understanding of the benefits of transdisciplinary collaboration and its importance to securing a future with safe, reliable drinking water for all.
Doctor Creek wildfire ash collection site. Ash collected was used in Lauren McGregor's biofiltration research. Source: S. Bahramian, WaterSTP research group
The Network provides insights into new scientific research for safe, secure drinking water---globally---which starts with resilient forests