Hello, my name is Ioanna Samakovlis and I have just started my first year as a QUADRAT DTP student at the University of Aberdeen within the School of Geosciences. My project is titled ‘The future of irrigated agriculture in Europe’s mountainous regions; exploring trade-offs and synergies for climate adaptation’.

Ioanna at Aberdeen beach front

In my project I will be looking into the effects of climate change on agricultural irrigation water demand in mountainous regions across Europe and how to quantify these as well as subsequent operational and managerial challenges. With data from these regions, I aim to develop regional and local hydro-economic models to assess and compare the costs (direct and indirect) of alternative climate adaptation strategies.

I grew up in Lower Franconia in Germany surrounded by orchards and vineyards; however before actually getting involved in agriculture, I did a B.A. in Tourism and Travel Management and a M.Sc. in Tourism Management, working on equitable and community-led tourism development and social network analysis. Also, I was able to get some administration experience while working at a tour operator in Los Angeles as well as build my HR management skills managing a real estate office in Düsseldorf, Germany for four years.

However, I always had also wanted to pursue my other interests in natural sciences and their practical applications, so I decided to go back to university to pursue a degree in Agricultural Sciences at the University of Hohenheim in Stuttgart – a decision that I have never regretted. It allowed me to dive further into topics of ecology, soil science, biology, climate change and fruit cultivation. Also, it paved the way for me to do an internship at the Bavarian State Research Institute for Viticulture and Horticulture (LWG) for 5 months where I was allowed an in-depth insight into the cultivation of various fruits, and various methods of irrigation. Also, I was able to cooperate with the LWG for my dissertation on water management practices utilising different types of water retaining soil amendments.

Experimental set up of my dissertation experiment with different soil additives to strawberry plants
Maneuvring the Scholander pressure bomb used to determine leaf water potential in B.Sc. dissertation experiment across orchards

Additionally, during my studies, I was able to work part-time at the German science communication organisation Wissenschaft im Dialog (WiD) within the Science Year projects; these are projects that are funded each year by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research to further understanding for a particular science area amongst the public.

This is also how I discovered my passion for science communication and my interest in promoting the findings of natural sciences and benefits of research to the public and the importance of citizen science. In my opinion, particularly in agriculture, stakeholder engagement and science communication are crucial and public engagement and exchange between science and practitioners should be fostered. Therefore, I will also try to incorporate science communication and stakeholder dialogue into my PhD research process.

Outside my research I love to go hiking and identifying different wild flowers and other plants, gardening, climbing and finding the best cafés around Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire.

One of my favourite hobbies: Hiking. Snapshot from a multi-day hiking tour across the Alps from Germany to Italy