March 30, 2019
A PhD Fellow from Zimbabwe is working with local communities to measure the health of rivers and streams.
Tinotenda Mangadze, a 2015 fellow from Zimbabwe, is currently completing a full-time fellowship at Rhodes University in South Africa, where she is doing her PhD research in aquatic ecology. Read about how she is developing more affordable methods to measure the health of aquatic ecosystems, and how she is involving local communities, below.
How did you learn about the OWSD fellowship, and what difference has it made to your career?
My passion for aquatic ecology developed during my undergraduate studies in wildlife management and later my MPhil research. I started building my knowledge of aquatic biological monitoring techniques, which are new approaches for monitoring water quality deterioration in streams and rivers. I then decided to go deeper into this area of research, and I learned about the OWSD fellowship from my MPhil supervisor, who motivated me to travel down this scientific path. I was very excited to apply for the OWSD fellowship because I knew it would give me the opportunity to carry on with my research and develop my scientific career. Thanks to OWSD, I am in an inspiring environment with outstanding researchers, and have gained a lot of professional maturity in my area of study. In addition to the funding support, OWSD has given me the opportunity to establish collaborations and networks for my next professional projects.
What are you researching? What first made you interested in this subject?
My research is focused on the effects of climate variability and land-use changes on diatom and macroinvertebrate communities in the Kowie River system. There is a need for a shift to the use of biological indicators which are cost-effective and provide an integrative assessment of ecosystem health status.
I chose this area of study because I have always been attracted by natural environments which are free from pollution. However, freshwater ecosystems are now among the most endangered ecosystems in the world due to unsustainable land-use and development activities. As these stream ecosystems are constantly changing, my research will help in the development of consistent monitoring methods to track these changes and observe the environment within streams.
Has anything surprised you about your research experience?
It is surprising that so many people have been interested in my research, and some communities have even offered to join me when doing field sampling. This has led me to realize that as a researcher I should be communicating the true value of biological monitoring in order to ensure support and buy-in from all stakeholders and local societies.
What are your plans for the future? What will you do after you complete your PhD?
After my PhD, I hope to share my collective experiences with other women in science in my home country and to teach biological sciences at a university. Later on, I will do post-doctorate research in my area of study.
THANK YOU, TINOTENDA!