“We need to know what’s going on below us.” Stefanie Bus is a geohydrologist. Through her research, she provides the data and insights needed to understand the behaviour of our groundwater.
"I work in the Geomodelling department of the Geological Survey of the Netherlands, a part of TNO, in which we create models that enable us to investigate the Dutch subsurface. As a geohydrologist, I am specialised in groundwater. I investigate the permeability of the various geological layers and how groundwater responds to precipitation and evaporation. Climate change causes heavier precipitation and prolonged drought. We need information in order to limit ecological and economic damage. To come up with sustainable solutions we need to know what’s going on below us. I’m working hard at TNO to develop webtools that will give everyone insights into this so that they can make the right decisions."
Brain and hands
"After my studies in Environmental Technology, I went to work for an consultancy in the field of Aquifer thermal energy storages (ATES). At that time, I knew for sure I wanted to know everything about groundwater. That’s why I started a Master’s in Hydrology at the University of Wageningen where I had the opportunity to combine modelling with fieldwork, such as drilling and installing monitoring wells. For me this is much more fascinating than only interpreting datasets. Fortunately, research at TNO also gives these opportunities . We regularly take the time to ‘read’ core samples in our laboratory. If you see the soil samples with your own eyes, you get much more feeling for the research. It’s wonderful to work with your hands and, at the same time, use your brain in relation to the composition and water permeability of the subsurface."
Draw your own plan
"The Geological Survey is almost entirely composed of specialists – even the project leaders and consultants are specialists. We’re given plenty of scope to go deeper and to develop ourselves in our field by gaining lots of research experience. Even if you’re a starter, you’re given complete freedom to draw up your own plan. Showing initiative is appreciated and encouraged. If you see an opportunity, seize it. If you have a good idea, go for it. That’s how I’m involved working hard within TNO to make groundwater information accessible online. And I’m not even a professor. Everyone’s opinion is important at TNO, regardless of your position in the organisation. If you know what your strength is, a lot is possible at TNO."
My own back garden
"Sustainable water management is something which I practice outside my work hours. Seventy square metres of our house is a vegetation roof. We have rain barrels to collect rainwater. These are connected to eight infiltration crates in the garden, where excess rainwater can slowly infiltrate into the soil. My dream is that everywhere rainwater will be treated as a valuable asset, instead of discharging it directly into the sewage system. That my son will learn at school that clean rainwater was once discharged with dirty wastewater, but that we now know better."