“The practical aspect motivates me”

20 April 2017

When Cecilie Arent is standing in the lake, observing algae and collecting water samples she is in her element.

“I really like the practical aspect of the programme. It drives me to be in the nature and see with my own eyes what difference our work makes and how it helps protect the nature and secure access to safe drinking water,” says Cecilie.

She is studying the Master’s programme in Water and Environment, and she is just about to finish her Master’s thesis. The purpose of the thesis is to find out whether it is worthwhile to restore lakes by biomanipulation, for instance by removing some of the fish that eat the algae eating insects. These fish are injurious to the ecosystem and removing them is one way of restoring lakes.

New restoration techniques are needed

Field trips and a course in freshwater biology triggered her interest in the subject and made her decide that her Master’s thesis should be a comparative study of lake restoration in Denmark and China. In Denmark, the most common challenge is agricultural water pollution whereas in China the polluted lakes are also a result of sewage discharge.

“In Denmark we have a long history of lake restoration with the purpose of conserving nature. In China they started out later, but on the other hand they have got up to new standards in a short amount of time. In China it is not only about taking care of the nature but also about securing drinking water, as many lakes also serve as drinking water reservoirs,” says Cecilie.

The best way to restore a lake depends among other things on the climatic region. Even though the climate in Denmark is temperate, and the climate in China is tropical to subtropical, Cecilie finds it very interesting to do a comparative study of the results. The climate in Denmark is getting warmer and in the future Danish lakes will resemble Chinese lakes more and more, thus making it feasible to adopt lake restoration methods and techniques that are used in the tropical climate zones.

When SDC student Cecilie Arent is standing in the lake, observing algae and collecting water samples she is in her element.

A new career path came up

On the Master’s programme in Water and Environment, the students have one year to focus on their Master’s thesis. During that year Cecilie’s thoughts about the future have changed, as she finds biology and practice more and more interesting.

“I have always found the legal aspects related to environmental protection interesting. I still do, but working on my thesis has also opened my eyes to the biological work to ensure healthy ecologies in lakes etc. It could be a job in a consultancy company focusing on quality assurance of e.g. lakes,” says Cecilie.

Sparring with two supervisors

Cecilie both have a Chinese and a Danish supervisor, and whether she spars with one or the other depends on the stage of the process.

“At SDC we have much more interaction with the teachers than I am used to from the Danish universities. Thereby we get a great knowledge about the teacher’s core competences and a very good chance of choosing the right supervisors,” she says.

Her Chinese supervisor made it possible for her to stay in Nanjing, close to Shanghai, in eastern China. Here she stayed for three months to do field work and to analyze the results for her thesis with her Chinese supervisor’s research group.