The Grand Challengers Podcast

The Grand Challengers Podcast

In the face of climate change, urbanization, population growth and many other grand challenges that our world faces, many inspiring individuals are stepping up to tackling these challenges in their own unique ways. Hear the passionate story of inspiring guests, which I interview on each episode. We learn about how their journeys along the cutting edges of science, engineering, technology and design has shaped them as a person, all while are creating new solutions and ways of thinking for an uncertain future. Each episode offers nuggets of advice for aspiring young professionals who want to make our world a better place.

Episodes

June 4, 2024 53 mins

Tobias Baur, Professor in Landscape Architecture at the Eastern Switzerland University of Applied Sciences (OST), Rapperswil and former partner at Studio Ramboll-Dreiseitl, sheds some light on Singapore's Active, Beautiful and Clean Waters Program, the country's journey in water management, and how sponge cities have evolved from stormwater to climate adaptation in recent years in Asia and Europe. We discuss the important...

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Katrin Pakizer, Research Associate from the Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW) and the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science & Technology (Eawag) joins us to discuss how to create transformative change and to transition cities towards more sustainable natural resources management from the lenses of water infrastructure, biodiversity and all the many infrastructures and resources beneath our feet. We look at the c...

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Alexa Delbosc, Associate Professor at the Monash University Institute of Transport Studies, Australia demonstrates how social psychology concepts and thinking can be applied to transport planning. We explore a variety of topics including dehumanization of cyclists, changing lifestyles of millennials, the impact of the pandemic on transport, work from home culture, the built environment considerations, egocentric anchoring in planni...

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Darcy Molnar, Senior Program Coordinator at the Leopold-Bachmann Foundation and the Masters in Advanced Studies (MAS) in Water Resources Program Coordinator at ETH Zurich reflects on three major initiatives she has undertaken to foster better knowledge exchange on solving global crises, bridging global north and south and providing more opportunities for women in STEM. Having grown up in West Africa herself, we learn a bit about ho...

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Manuel Fischer, Professor at the Institute of Political Science, University of Bern, group leader in Policy Analysis and Environmental Governance and head of the Environmental Social Sciences Institute at the Eawag, Switzerland shares some insights on the social dynamics between major actors in the political arena during times of stability and times of crisis and the importance of delving deeper into these dynamics for better socia...

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Shubber Ali, CEO of Garden for Wildlife, a spin-out from the National Wildlife Federation in the US, reflects on the journey from helping companies improve their innovation to how people can contribute to improving biodiversity in their own gardens through the use of native plants. We also discuss the twin crises of climate change and artificial intelligence (in particular, Generative AI) and look at both the positives and negative...

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Jon Hathaway, Associate Professor at the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Tennessee Knoxville sheds light on the origins and practice of green infrastructure for stormwater management in the US, the impact climate change will have, needs for better asset management and maintenance and how we can operate these systems in a smarter way. We also compare notes and terminology in this field across the glo...

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Markus Vogl, Professor at the University of Stuttgart, senior partner at Studio Urban Strategies and former "Walter Gropius Chair" at the Faculty of Architecture, Design and Urbanism at the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina reflects on the power of social collaboration for urban transformation by retelling the story of perhaps the most impactful project in his career to date, the Biblioteca Popular La Carcova and Parq...

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Françoise Bichai, Associate Professor from Polytechnique Montreal discusses the complexity, challenge and necessity of interdisciplinary collaboration and how we should adapt our centralised water infrastructure to support growing cities and adapt to climate change. We also delve into her current work on supporting the planning of green infrastructure.

Podcast Intro/Outro Song: Starsky by Alex Keren (Check out more of his ...

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Danielle Dagenais, Professor in Urban Planning and Landscape Architecture at the University of Montreal discusses her interdisciplinary journey from garden design to all things plants and how she is now tackling green infrastructure solutions for stormwater management and improving urban biodiversity in snowy Canada. Our conversation also unravels the paradox of nature and many myths surrounding the use of vegetation for providing ...

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Belinda Hatt, waterways and wetlands research specialist at Melbourne Water and University of Melbourne, Australia, reflects on her journey through academia and practice around creating healthy waterways and her work on stormwater control measures or Water Sensitive Urban Design, in particular, rain gardens for water quality management.

Podcast Intro/Outro Song: Breaking Sweat by Balloon Planet (Check out more of their tun...

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Anna Lintern, senior lecturer and head of the water group at te Department of Civil Engineering, Monash University, Australia, discusses how she has combined her passion for water, rivers and history in some 'forensic-esque' research using sediment core and other historical data sets. We also discuss the impact that such diverse and creative methods can have in supporting further environmental policymaking.

Podca...

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Fritz Kleinschroth, senior research scientist at the Ecosystem Management Group of ETH Zurich reflects on various examples where human infrastructure and nature have collided, from the tropics to his own backyard in Zurich, Switzerland. We discuss the importance of reconciliation ecology going forward and how infrastructure can be planned to be more integrated with natural ecosystems.

Podcast Intro/Outro Song: Breaking Swe...

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Mohan Yellishetty from Resources Engineering at Monash University, Australia sheds light on the importance of minerals extraction and how we can undertake this sustainably. From fascination with Australia-India relations around cricket to growing up in the countryside in India, we discuss the life cycle of mines and the potential of 're-mining', rehabilitation and repurposing after their closure as a way to combat climate...

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Mattheos Santamouris, the Anita Lawrence Professor of High Performance Architecture at the University of New South Wales, Australia, discusses the impending overheating crisis due to global climatic change that we are facing, his outlook and perhaps the most urgent strategy for counteracting and adapting to it.

Podcast Intro/Outro Song: Breaking Sweat by Balloon Planet (Check out more of their tunes over at Soundcloud: htt...

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Juan Pablo Rodríguez Sánchez, Associate Professor at Universidad de los Andes in Bogotá, Colombia shares how data scarcity is not a limitation, but rather, an opportunity for innovation in both the wastewater system and his current topic, nature-based solutions. We explore his passion for his country Colombia and career-long passion case study, Bogotá.

Podcast Intro/Outro Song: Breaking Sweat by Balloon Planet (Check out m...

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Janine Bolliger, senior researcher at the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research (WSL) and lecturer at the University of Zurich discusses the deeper subtleties behind the term 'biodiversity' and her recent work on how light pollution affects non-humans, namely bats and insects. We also delve deeper into what needs to be done to make cities more ecologically sustainable in light of global biodivers...

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Veljko Prodanovic, a senior researcher at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) Australia, discusses the intricacies of designing sustainable vertical greenery, which are thirsty, but, ironically, more beneficial in dry climates. We also touch upon how to design blue-green infrastructure to be 'culturally-inclusive' in order to build community ownership and stewardship as a way to drive uptake and implementation of new...

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Dr. Liah Coggins, an environmental engineer from the University of Western Australia shares how she has created impact in the water industry with a simple piece of technology and the growing complexity that engineering research and education need to embrace if we want to create innovative solutions. Under the mentorship of our guest from Episode 11 and through her own experiences over the last decade, Liah has forged her own approa...

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Anas Ghadouani, professor in environmental engineering at the University of Western Australia, limnologist and overall advocate for collaborative learning and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals paints a picture of how he is constantly learning and embedding fun, entertainment and learning into his research and teaching work. We delve into a connected story around a range of topics from water quality in lakes to multid...

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