Leila Saberi grew up in Chaloos, Iran questioning everything in her path. Chaloos is a unique city where economy and identity are strongly influenced by nature and climate - especially from the humidity rising from the Caspian Sea. Growing up with heavy and long rainfalls, Leila wondered why raindrops sometimes ran over the soil but other times ran through it. She pondered how streams could either flood or run dry.
Her questions led her to conduct scientific research. For her first research project, she was tasked with solving a question that had never been answered: why were thousands of sinkholes forming on the shoreline of the Dead Sea in Jordan? Through this experience, she realized that hydrogeology was the perfect mix of environmental science and engineering for her to understand the processes she had been observing throughout her life. Plus, it was a field where she could contribute to important environmental and human resource problems.
Now, Leila continues to answer questions as she pursues a PhD in hydrogeology. Using a combination of field data and models, her research focuses on glacierized watersheds in the Andes. She studies eco-hydrological processes, aiming to understand how watersheds will respond to future climate scenarios and extremes. The ultimate goal is to predict the availability of water resources in future decades so we can manage them accordingly.
Leila’s research has satisfied her inquisitive side, but she couldn’t have made it to this point without believing in herself. She explains, “my love of traveling, pursuing graduate studies, and my belief in myself provided me an opportunity to explore the world and connect with encouraging scientists who have helped me become the woman I dreamed of being.” She wants to highlight the stories of women researching water because they are role models. If we show others the opportunities that are possible, they might be inspired to pursue STEM and other water-related fields. “I plan to continue progressing in my scientific career and hope to be able to inspire others to believe in themselves and pursue their dreams.”