11th SPRING Award Winner

Congratulations to Murat Okumah, PhD student at the Sustainability Research Institute, who is the winner of the 11th water@leeds SPRING Award.

SPRING is the acronym for ‘Supporting Postgraduate Research to Inspire the Next Generation’! It is a postgraduate research funding competition developed by water@leeds through its Doctoral Research and Training Centre which is open to all postgraduate research students whose research involves some aspect related to water.

Murat’s supervisors are Professor Julia Martin Ortega , School of Earth and Environment and Professor Pippa Chapman School of Geography.

We interviewed Murat about his life, work and hopes for the future:

Tell us a bit about yourself: 
I am a Ph.D. Researcher at the Sustainability Research Institute. I am from Abrumase, a small town in the Savannah Region of Ghana. I spent my childhood in Ghana – where I had basic, high school and university education. Before enrolling on this Ph.D. programme, I worked as a Teaching and Research Assistant at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, and at the University of Leeds.

Why did you choose Leeds University? 
I chose Leeds because of the world-class research, excellent support systems and brilliant opportunities that the university offers to postgraduate researchers. This decision was also influenced by availability of a great supervisory team – a strong combination of natural and social scientists with a proven track record of academic publications and policy-relevant outputs.

What is your research about? 
I apply behavioural and catchment science to explore whether/how psychosocial factors influence farmers’ land management practices and how these interact with biophysical factors to affect water quality. I am also interested in how policy responds to environmental impacts of agricultural land use and how to improve water quality through changes in land management practices.

What did you wish you knew before starting a PhD? 
Failure and disappointments! I wish I knew the reality that ‘failure is normal’; it is okay to get manuscript rejections, and harsh criticism from reviewers. This has made me stronger and more resilient.

What are your plans/hopes for the future?
I would like to thank the University of Leeds, the Postgraduate Scholarship office and water@leeds for the opportunities they have given me. My current role allows me to contribute towards addressing a major socio-environmental problem in Europe and US, with a potential global impact! Through collaborative projects, like RePhoKUs, I am building a strong network with researchers and practitioners in Europe, US and Australia and I hope to make further impact in science and policy through this great network.

If you are a postgraduate researcher whose work involves some aspect related to water, check out how to apply to the SPRING award  here and sign up to our DRTC mailing list here