Last Weeks in Belgium

Last Weeks in Belgium

My stay at Aquafin, in Belgium, is sadly coming to an end. Today I look back and evaluate what I have achieved this year. I think the result is quite positive! I could develop and calibrate from scratch a Microcontaminant Fate and Transport model that estimates the concentrations of diclofenac in the Demer river basin for a particular month.

To be honest, the calibration was not as accurate as in the Llobregat river basin (read our latest article “Incorporating model uncertainty into the evaluation of interventions to reduce microcontaminants in rivers” that will be published in the journal Water Research in November 2017 and available online at https://authors.elsevier.com/sd/article/S0043135417306097) because we had fewer observations of diclofenac concentrations available. The uncertainty in the calibrated concentrations was also higher in the Demer which influences the selection of interventions to reduce these concentrations. In any case, I could show our findings to the Flanders Environment Agency (VMM) and they were really interested in our model and results which was very rewarding to me. I hope they will use our tool in the near future! Besides, a student from the Free University of Brussels (VUB) is using part of our simulation results to develop his Master Thesis. He is comparing the concentrations of diclofenac simulated by a dynamic model versus a steady-state model, like ours. I wish Hamed a lot of success! I know first-hand, it is not easy because of data scarcity!

Moreover, these last days in Belgium are very special for my wife Marina and me because we are expecting our first baby! The due date was on the 6th of August but today (by the time I am writing) is already the 10th of August and she doesn’t want to come out of Marina’s belly. These last 4 days we are experiencing a cocktail of emotions: anxiety, excitement, fear, happiness, etc, all-in-one. At least, we know that any baby has stayed inside forever which calms us. In addition, In September, to add more fuel to the fire, we (baby, Marina and me) are moving to UK to start my next secondment at Atkins. Therefore, we are now looking for an apartment in Oxford which is not an easy task. We are definitely not bored these days.

PS Finally the baby was born on 18 August!