Blog.Oct 07, 2020

Zoe Gotthold in SIWI video for #24 Hours of Water

In a new video, Zoe Gotthold, the American Stockholm Junior Water Prize winner who received a Diploma of Excellence 2020, speaks to Stockholm Water Prize laureate Dr John Cherry.

They were interviewed as part of SIWI’s Torgny Holmgren’s address to the major water conference WEFTEC Connect.

WEFTEC is one of the leading events for water professionals and SIWI’s Executive Director Torgny Holmgren is regularly invited to address the conference and present new insights from World Water Week, the Stockholm Water Prize laureate, and the Stockholm Junior Water Prize. But since this year’s WEFTEC, held between 4-9 October, is entirely online, he decided on a new format. The result is a video, released as part of the campaign #24 Hours of Water. Torgny Holmgren and his SIWI colleague Kanika Thakar interview Zoe Gotthold, representing the Stockholm Junior Water Prize, and Dr John Cherry, the 2020 Stockholm Water Prize laureate.

Zoe Gotthold described how her love of penguins got her interested in the problem of oil spills and led her to study emulsions as a new way of addressing the issue. “The reason I focused on oil spill emulsions specifically was the lack of research into the field,” she explained, adding: “Oil spills themselves are a hot button issue but emulsions are shunted to the side, despite being hugely important in terms of the impact of an oil spill.”

The jury of the Stockholm Junior Water Prize considers this research so promising that it presented Zoe with its Diploma of Excellence. And Zoe is determined to continue. “For the next step, I need to test more real-world conditions, taking this idea from the laboratory into more oceanic conditions,” she said.

Looking ahead, Zoe hopes to see more research funding focused on solving problems that may not attract big headlines: “I think the next big thing will be a stronger investment in scientific solutions to smaller research problems, not just the big hot button issues but the specific effects.”

This is of course very much in line with the type of research performed by many of the Stockholm Junior Water Prize finalists, which often helps solve real-world problems.

Zoe also emphasized how we must all start valuing water more: “The culture of water appreciation is also very important, that water isn’t a specific field, it can touch any kind of scientific work,” she said.

In the video, you can also hear Dr John Cherry, talk about his work to safe the world’s threatened groundwater sources. Torgny Holmgren reflects on the climate crisis forces us to focus more on resilience and behavioural change.