Student Feature – Alia Khan

Alia Khan Alia Khan

PhD, Environmental Engineering

Expected EDC Certificate Completion: May 2016

Undergraduate: University of North Carolina Gillings School of Global Public Health, Bachelors of Science in Public Health, Environmental Health Science

What are your hobbies outside of academic life?

I enjoy coupling my scientific curiosity with a love and passion for the outdoors. In my free time I like to get in the backcountry on my splitboard (often while collecting snow samples for my research), trail running, mountain biking, as well as rock and ice climbing. I also enjoy planning hut trips and camping adventures with friends and family who provide great company!

How did you become interested in global development?

When I was fourteen I had the opportunity to travel to my father’s native country, Bangladesh, for two weeks to visit his family. This was a tremendous eye-opening experience which greatly enhanced my appreciation for the American lifestyle my parents worked hard to give me. This experience at a young age cemented my belief that education is a privilege, and that I would maximize my schooling in order to gain skills which could help benefit those without this opportunity. Furthermore, this understanding compelled me to pursue a Bachelors of Science in Public Health in the Department of Environmental Science and Engineering (ESE) in the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, with a specific focus on global water and sanitation.

Why did you join the EDC program?

Upon completing my BSPH degree at UNC – Chapel Hill I knew I wanted to continue in this field. During undergrad I had become familiar with CU’s EDC program and it was one of the main reasons I decided to come to CU for my MS and PhD degrees. It’s such a wonderful opportunity to conduct cutting edge environmental research while also participating in the EDC program, applying engineering skills to helping solve real-world humanitarian issues.

What has been the most valuable thing you’ve learned from the EDC program?

Despite the continued need for improved water and sanitation in many rural communities, there are a lot of brilliant people both in the developed and developing world working to help solve these complex issues and I feel fortunate to get to work with some of these great people.

Where did you complete your practicum?

I am hoping to complete my field practicum in Nepal. Part of my doctoral research is working with the USAID funded National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) project aiming to quantify Contributions from High Asian Snow and Ice Run-off (CHARIS). Thus, I would like to complete my practicum in one of the CHARIS partner countries and contribute to environmental, and specifically WASH related projects.

What do you hope to do after completing your EDC certificate?

I hope to pursue postdoctoral research related to global water issues. There are many complex hydrologic issues so I think there are many avenues to explore!

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