By Pratik Poudel - Environment Science, Nepal
When I came to UNI almost three years ago, I had never imagined my course of study would take me back to not just my hometown of Kathmandu, but to one of the most iconic features of the city: the polluted river Bagmati. The rancid smell of Bagmati is legendary among the city’s residents, and I had grown up noticing the river’s pollution worsening every year.
I chose to study Environmental Science at UNI. Over the course of my first semester, I took a geology class with Dr. Mohammad Iqbal. To my amazement, my conversation with Dr. Iqbal revealed that he was conducting research not just in Nepal, but in Bagmati river itself! In fact, he had been monitoring the water quality in the river for the last two years. A few semesters later, Dr. Iqbal asked if I would be interested in sampling water for him when I went home for the summer. It was an opportunity I couldn’t turn down.
Since then, Dr. Iqbal’s research has evolved from water quality to using the skills I learned in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) classes, eventually generating maps showing the mathematical relationship between the changing land cover, population density and water quality. In a country like Nepal, research projects like Dr. Iqbal’s are pioneers, because the field of data and spatial analysis is so far behind the developed countries and there are few studies available on the public domain. I am incredibly grateful towards Dr. Iqbal for giving me the opportunity to be involved in something so significant in my own country. For someone that made the academic decision to study at UNI, my decision has been vindicated at every turn. Not only have I learned a lot, but I have had the opportunity to apply that knowledge to try to help a dire situation in my home country. I firmly believe that the opportunities international students get here is what sets UNI apart from all others.