Sophie Mentzel talks about her research stay at IMDEA Water

Published On: December 20, 2021

Sophie Mentzel, a PhD student at the Norwegian Institute for Water Research (NIVA), has done a research stay at IMDEA Water.

Who are you? Where do you come from? What is your background? 

My name is Sophie Mentzel. I hold a BSc in Aquatic Ecotechnology from the Hogeschool Zeeland, Vlissingen (NL) and an MSc in Environmental and Resource Management from the Brandenburg University of Technology Cottbus-Senftenberg (DE). During my studies, I had the opportunity to study abroad for a semester, at the Dongguk University, South Korea (2013), and at the Universidad Tecnológica de Pereira, Colombia (2016). Also, I was able to do various internships across different fields, such as river restoration, microplastic research, as well as monitoring and modelling of ecosystem. As part of my master thesis, I built a functioning Dynamic Bayesian Network showing anthropogenic pressures in connection with natural conditions of the ecosystem of the Dutch Wadden Sea at the research institute Deltares (Delft, NL). Currently, I am a PhD candidate in the Department of Ecotoxicology and Risk Assessment at the Norwegian Institute for Water Research (NIVA) and an Early-Stage Researcher of the Marie SkƂodowska-Curie Innovative Training Networks project ECORISK2050.

What does the work / research you do consist of?

The main focus of my PhD project is to carry out probabilistic risk assessment of pesticides, with the help of a Bayesian network (BN). We are trying to integrate environmental factors, and future climate and land-use change scenarios in the Bayesian Network model. My first paper was published in October. This study focused on the development of a probabilistic Bayesian network approach to carry out risk characterization for a case study representing a small agricultural catchment in Norway. Further work has focused on integrating exposure and effect prediction model outputs into the developed Bayesian Network. 

Why did you choose IMDEA Water for an internship? 

We were interested in developing a Bayesian network for a southern European case study. IMDEA Water, also being a beneficiary in ECORISK2050, had shown interest in cooperating and exploring this alternative method for risk assessment of pesticides. There is already an existing case study area and currently work conducted on a model that predicts exposure concentration of pesticides in a rice paddy and its drainage. Together with my colleagues at IMDEA, we are working on integrating this exposure prediction model output into the developed Bayesian Network.

Has this stay been useful for you to advance your research / training? How much? Have you collaborated with other researchers at the IMDEA Water Institute?

The secondment at IMDEA Water has helped and contributed to my PhD research. As I was here for only a short period, I focused my collaboration effort on the colleagues from IMDEA Water that are involved in the research study or part of the ECORISK2050 project. Personally, I enjoyed my stay at IMDEA Water, especially the lunch and coffee breaks with colleagues.

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