Earth and Environmental Sciences Ph.D. Student Follows His Dream of Combating Global Water Crises

April 20, 2020

Abdou Rachid Bah grew up amid water stress in Burkina Faso and is about to start his role as co-chair of the Global Lake Ecological Observatory Network's Student Association.

Abdou Rachid Bah (Photo courtesy of Bah)
Abdou Rachid Bah (Photo courtesy of Bah)

Graduate Center Ph.D. student Abdou Rachid Bah (Earth and Environmental Sciences) has been named co-chair elect of the Global Lake Ecological Observatory Network’s (GLEON) Student Association.

Now in the second year of his Ph.D., Bah studies the impact of climate change on lakes, as part of a larger effort to combat the world’s water problems. His work aligns with GLEON’s mission to share data on lakes from around the world to better understand how they are impacted by natural and human effects.

Bah was born and raised in Burkina Faso, and studied geology during his undergraduate years at Joseph Ki-Zerbo University in Ouagadougou. It was here that he first became interested in water resource management.

“Coming from a country in a dire situation of permanent water stress, I had a strong desire to contribute to curtailing the water crisis and providing efficient strategies to mitigate water crises not only locally but globally,” Bah said.

In search of better educational opportunities, Bah applied for a student visa and came to the U.S. in 2015. After taking English courses and passing the Test of English as a Foreign Language, he enrolled at The City College of New York for a master’s in earth system sciences and environmental engineering. By 2018 he had graduated and moved on to the doctoral program in earth and environmental sciences at The Graduate Center.

“I followed my dream all the way from Burkina Faso to CUNY,” Bah said.

Today, Bah researches how global climate change is affecting lake temperature and surface area. He does this by analyzing temperature variabilities and climate teleconnections — climate anomalies that are connected over vast distances — using both satellite data and observations from other GLEON members.

“The world is facing a water crisis due to pollution, climate change, and a surging population growth of such magnitude that close to 2 billion people now live in water-stressed regions of the planet,” Bah said. “Tackling the global water crisis requires a better understanding of the causes of the problem.”

Bah’s Ph.D. adviser, Professor Hamidreza Norouzi (GC/City Tech, Earth and Environmental Sciences) is also a member of GLEON, and Bah had collaborated on two projects with other members before joining. When he joined GLEON himself, he began working actively on projects and participating in student activities.

In his new role, Bah will be responsible for organizing the GLEON Student Association workshops and poster presentations and will work on initiatives to enhance the GLEON experience. He will move into the co-chair position at the GLEON 22 All Hands’ Meeting scheduled to take place in Poland later this year.