PhD Researcher Profile: Kristofer Chan

“Environment, people and sustainability”: It is with these choice words Kris sum up his research interests. A geographer by degrees but with one foot firmly in the ecology sphere, Kris Chan is the epitome of an interdisciplinary researcher. Having attained a distinction in his Conservation MSc, Kris is passionate about safeguarding the natural world. However, he is all too aware of the trade-offs between having the quality of life and luxuries we enjoy versus being the stewards of the environment we want to be.

PhD researcher Kris Chan on fieldwork

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MSc Student Profile: Hazel Lewis

Originally an anthropologist, Hazel Lewis is now a student on King’s Water’s MSc Water: Science and Governance course. Hazel is particularly interested in how people’s behaviours change in the context of sanitation and water use. She currently serves as a support worker for adults with autism and learning disabilities. Her passion for justice and equity carries over into her water work, which is focused on making the world a fairer place. Hazel identities her greatest motivation for academia involvement is “how science, social science and humanities can interact for the better”. It is this linkage that led her to studying with King’s Water: “King’s is a prestigious university, so when I discovered that the water science and governance programme intergrated scientific study with study of policy and management, I was sold”.

Hazel Lewis Headshor

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PhD Researcher Profile: Nathalie Richards

Nathalie Richards is a Swiss-British-American citizen, having grown up mostly in the French part of Switzerland but having also lived in Germany, the USA, the UK, and Mexico. Nathalie holds a BA in International Relations from the University of Geneva and an MA from King’s College London. She has professional experience in the global health consultancy sector from PricewaterhouseCoopers in Geneva and public sector experience gained while working at the Swiss Embassy in Mexico City. In England, Nathalie has worked for environmental NGOs including Blue Ventures.

Through a ESRC-supported CASE studentship, Nathalie partners with WWF-UK for her doctoral work exploring Water Users Associations in Tanzania and Kenya. Nathalie’s research investigates the impact that Water Users Associations have on rivers and communities. She will be using interdisciplinary methods to understand the climate and land use patterns over the past 10 years of subcatchments in the Southern Highlands of Tanzania and the Maasai Mara in Kenya in order to assess the extent to which water usage has changed. Additionally, she will collect perceptions from water users association members to understand their role and the interest farmers have in these institutions. An institutional analysis will evaluate water users associations’ interactions with other formal and informal institutions regulating water use.

Nathalie Richards

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King’s Water researcher publishes book on environmental volunteerism

King’s Water PhD Researcher Becca Farnum has just released her first book, an exploration of the Kuwait Dive Team’s efforts on marine conservation, environmental education, and conservation volunteerism in the Gulf.

Becca has released the book for sale in the United States in conjunction with World Water Day.

A year and a half ago, Becca was invited to the Gulf for her first visit as a guest of the Kuwait Dive Team, a volunteer organisation working to preserve and protect the marine environment of the Gulf. She was then just beginning her doctoral work at King’s. In October 2014, Becca participated in the Dive Team’s activities for a week in order to learn more about their operations and, at their request, wrote a book in English sharing their story. After hearing about the Team’s efforts to leverage their expertise in salvaging and coral reef care for international relations, Becca decided to use their ‘diving diplomacy’ activities as the basis for one of her three ethnographic case studies in her dissertation on environmental peacebuilding in the Middle East.

You can learn more about Becca’s research with the Dive Team by watching her interview on Kuwait National TV during her fieldwork in January and December 2016.

Defending the Deep: Guardians of the Sea” is now available for order on Amazon. Though Becca has written and presented academically about the Team, this book is intended as a fun, accessible exploration of the beautiful world that resides under the sea, and the many ways we as humans can help – or hurt – that world.

The book is currently available for order from Amazon in the US and Canada. UK sales will be run through All proceeds from book sales will go to the work of the Kuwait Dive Team. However, it is not necessary to buy a book to read the story. You can download a free copy from the King’s College London Research Portal here.


On Christmas Day in 1991, the Government of Kuwait formally accepted an offer from a group of young scuba divers to help remove underwater debris left by the Iraqi Invasion of Kuwait. What began as a patriotic act of post-conflict rebuilding grew into a national movement for marine conservation and environmental volunteering. This is the strory of those volunteers, young Kuwaitis dedicated to preserving and protecting the rich resources and natural beauty offered by our planet’s water. Today, the organisation holds hundreds of beach clean-ups each year, salvages thousands of tons of boats and fishing nets from Kuwait Bay, and creates a safe haven for millions of animals in the Gulf. This book invites you to take a journey with the Environmental Voluntary Foundation. It is a story of life and death, capture and rescue, wreck and restoration. It is a story meant to show you a different Middle East than you know. It is the story of the Kuwait Dive Team.

King’s Water celebrates World Water Day

22 March is World Water Day. King’s Water celebrates with a panel on this year’s theme of “Water and Jobs”.

The UN poster for World Water Day 2016, highlighting the connection between water and jobs

Join us tonight at King’s College London in Room K2.31 for 4:30pm.

2008 Stockholm Water Prize Winner Tony Allan will begin the session with an introduction of his path to working on water, framing the meaning behind World Water Day and the motivations for his illustrious career.

Tony will then chair a multi-generational, multi-sectoral roundtable panel on Water & Jobs with discussants from research and academia (Imperial College), the private sector (Triple Line Consulting), and philanthropy (WaterAid). Speakers include Amiera Sawas, Naomi Alesworth, and Elisa Dehove.

The discussion will be followed by a drinks reception.

MSc Student Profile: Henry Symons

Henry Symons grew up in Berkeley, California and attended the University of California, Santa Cruz for university where he studied Environmental Studies and Politics. After graduating with his bachelor’s, Henry worked in the environmental non-profit sector for groups like the Sierra Club and League of Conservation Voters. More recently, he managed a grant making program for Credo Mobile, a cell phone company funding progressive political causes.


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PhD Researcher Profile: Kay Phanthuwongpakdee

On Monday, we launched a new series of posts highlighting current King’s Water students and researchers. MSc scholar Olivia Pang was first up; today, we introduce doctoral researcher Kay Phanthuwongpakdee.

Nuttavikhom (Kay) Phanthuwongpakdee loves traveling and trying new things. He has lived in many countries including his native Thailand as well as Singapore, the United States, and the United Kingdom. Academically, Kay initially trained as a chemist and an environmental engineer, earning an MSc in Water and Environmental Management from the University of Bristol after his BA in Geography and BS in Chemistry from the University of Washington in Seattle. Kay has previously worked as an environmental engineer in a Bangkok-based water filtration company.

Kay’s current research in sustainable development, social adaptations to disaster, and resilience to climate change originated from personal experience encountering floods and inequalities in his home country. Those experiences led to the harsh realization that science alone cannot solve everything. As a result, he’s now a hard-core convert to geography. Kay recently defended his thesis on “Living with floods: Moving towards resilient local-level adaptation in Central Thailand”.

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MSc Student Profile: Olivia Pang

King’s Water is fundamentally a research hub, connecting and encouraging interdisciplinary investigation into the biophysical, political, socio-economic, developmental and institutional aspects of water resources and their management.

This focus on the multiplicity of institutional and physical systems surrounding and impacting water is present in King’s water-related teaching. The Department of Geography offers two interdisciplinary water-centric master’s programmes: the MSc Water: Science and Governance and the MSc Aquatic Resource Management. We are also host to a large group of doctoral researchers investigating a variety of physical and social questions around water issues.

Today, we launch a series of blog posts highlighting some of our current students. First up is Olivia Pang, a water fanatic currently studying with academics like Naho Mirumachi on the Water: Science and Governance course.

Olivia Pang small

Olivia’s water journey has taken her around the world. Born in Macau and raised in Hong Kong, she traveled to Vancouver, Canada as an undergraduate to study Natural Resources Conservation at the University of British Columbia.

As Olivia puts it, “I love water”. Wanting to further specialise in H2O and exploring various options, she found that there are not all that many postgraduate programmes that focus primarily on water. King’s College’s location in the heart of London, home to fantastic networks of water professionals, a hub for events and visiting experts, and a great city to live in as a student, also impacted Olivia’s interest.

When we asked Olivia what her favourite module has been thus far, she replied “Wow. This is a tough one. I like all the modules actually. They’re all very good.” She’s planning to use the expertise gained in each of them to find a job in the water sector, hopefully to do with the political and governance aspects of the resource.

Our final question to Olivia was to share with us the three words that come to her mind when she hears “water”. They are:






For more about study opportunities with King’s Water, check out our website. To keep up to date, follow us on Twitter!

Naho Mirumachi presents review of transboundary water governance at Oxford

Naho Mirumachi, Head of King’s Water, is a specialist in transboundary water governance. Her recent book, Transboundary Water Politics in the Developing World (Routledge, 2015), asks how and why shared water resources become contested.

This Wednesday, Dr Mirumachi spoke about her work at the University of Oxford. Hosted by the Centre for Socio-Legal Studies, she presented a new review paper on “Revisiting water governance: seeking insights to challenges of depoliticisation”.

In the paper, Naho demonstrates that the importance of water governance is emphasised in both academic and policy literature. It has been widely acknowledged that the crisis around water issues is one resulting from governance challenges. Given the diversity and complexity of water use and management, there is increasing recognition that governance mechanisms need to fit these contexts and to cope with changes to socio-economic and environmental conditions. Despite these advancements in scholarship, ideals of a single institutional model, universal framework and diagnostics are some dominant features in the water governance debate. The review paper highlights how water governance discourses tend to obfuscate nodes of politics on scale and knowledge, resulting in a depoliticisation of water governance approaches.

Researchers share with ‘Footnotes’

King’s College London boasts its own student radio. This morning on KCL Radio, King’s Water PhD researchers interviewed live with Francesca Allfrey on Footnotes.

The episode’s theme was water, with the host and special guests exploring Old English watery words, late medieval religious women and water, clouds of all kinds, and a clutch of geo-political water concerns.

Interviewees included King’s Water’s own Kris Chan, Harris Kuemmerle, and Dan Mills. Kris is a doctoral researcher exploring the environmental impacts of hydroelectric power in Southeast Asia, with a focus on dams in the Mekong. Harris is jointly supervised by the Geography and War Studies Departments at King’s, where he explores the role of fresh water in state security and international conflict and cooperation. And Dan is a NERC-DTP student investigating the impact of Dreissena spp. in UK rivers.

You can listen to King’s Water’s Footnotes free online. And check out older episodes for other interesting topics!