The Grand Challengers Podcast Episode #11

A limnologist, filmmaker, water diplomat and passionate teacher walk into a kitchen…

Guest: Anas Ghadouani

May 23rd, 2023


“…I think research is about taking the risk together and sharing those risks and I think that’s really the secret…”

Have you ever thought about what it is like to be a filmmaker, water and breakfast nerd all in one? Or what about using entertainment, fun and social media to tell a connected story about pressing world issues?

My guest today is Anas Ghadouani, professor in environmental engineering, from Aquatic Ecology and Ecosystem Studies at the University of Western Australia. Anas has over 20 years in research and teaching experience, from limnologist to a passionate and interdisciplinary storyteller around the sustainable development goals. He is also the co-host of his own podcast: Water You On About.

In today’s show, we uncover how Anas’ multiple passions have shaped his unique and entertaining teaching and communication style around the environment and the power of bringing fun into your work.


Anas Ghadouani is a Professor in Environmental Engineering at the University of Western Australia where he leads a research group focussed on topics in water resources (water and wastewater), ecological and environmental engineering with an emphasis on developing innovative technologies. Anas grew up in Rabat, Morocco and completed his BSc at Mohamed V University before moving to Montreal Canada to obtain his MSc and, subsequently, PhD from the University of Montreal in 2002 in Limnology (the study of lakes) and Water Resources before moving to Australia.

Anas was appointed Programme Chair for Environmental Engineering in 2017 and has more than 20 years of research and teaching experience in the water area. He has led numerous large-scale multidisciplinary projects nationally and internationally and is an expert advisor to a number of organisations and agencies in Australia and internationally. He has also been an editor for the journal Hydrology and Earth Systems Sciences (HESS) since 2005 and a strong advocate for the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which he actively incorporates in his innovative teaching of undergraduate engineering.

Anas was a founding member and past Executive Director for the $120M Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) for Water Sensitive Cities, which ran from 2012 to 2021. This role included both scientific leadership in a large multidisciplinary research centre as well as the coordination of its activities within the University of Western Australia and management of relationships with Western Australian industry partners. He is also host of his own podcast “Water You On About”.

have you hugged a limnologist today?

Resources Related to the Episode

(Disclosure: Links on this page to “View on Amazon” are Affiliate links. This means that, at zero cost to you, I will earn an affiliate commission if you click through the link and finalize a purchase.)

  • What is limnology?
    • The Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography’s official website
    • The bumper sticker… “Have you hugged a limnologist today?” [Flickr]
    • The Great Lakes of North America [Wikipedia]
  • Morocco: Anas comes from Rabat
  • Anas mentions his mentor Deep Saini, who is the Principal of McGill University
  • Cooperative Research Centre for Water Sensitive Cities (2012-2021), a 10-year $120M research programme that both Anas and I were part of. Visit their website
  • What are cyanobacteria? [Wikipedia] [ScienceDirect] also known as blue green algae
    • Some of Anas’ work on Cyanobacteria:
      • Reichwaldt, E.S. and Ghadouani, A., 2012. Effects of rainfall patterns on toxic cyanobacterial blooms in a changing climate: between simplistic scenarios and complex dynamics. Water research46(5), pp.1372-1393. [Link]
      • Ghadouani, A., Pinel‐Alloul, B. and Prepas, E.E., 2003. Effects of experimentally induced cyanobacterial blooms on crustacean zooplankton communities. Freshwater Biology48(2), pp.363-381. [Link]
    • Anas speaks of the Great Oxidation Event with the largest release of oxygen by cyanobacteria
    • An article from the algal bloom just before the Beijing Olympics [Link]
    • Cyanobacteria like it hot: Paerl, H.W. and Huisman, J., 2008. Blooms like it hot. Science320(5872), pp.57-58. [Link] – Anas did say Nature, but it was actually published in Science
    • Anas’ work on wastewater ponds with hydrogen peroxide: Barrington, D.J. and Ghadouani, A., 2008. Application of hydrogen peroxide for the removal of toxic cyanobacteria and other phytoplankton from wastewater. Environmental science & technology42(23), pp.8916-8921. [Link]
  • The Pleasure of finding out things by Richard Feynman [View on Amazon]
  • “I apologise for the length of this letter. If I had more time it would have been shorter” – Blaise Pascal – here’s an interest post about this quote [Link]
  • Walking together in research, cooking together, inspired by Danjoo Koorliny [Link]
  • The UN Sustainable Development Goals
    • Official page from the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs
    • Anas’ TEDx talk on Urban Water Diplomacy and the 17 ways to change the world [Link]
    • Anas’ World Water Day Photo!
  • Indigenous Knowledge on Water
    • The AIATSIS Map of indigenous Australia provides some nice insight into the indigenous heritage of Australia [Link]
  • Western Australia (WA) water supply: A misquote in the episode, the percentage of desalination water supply in WA was quoted to be at 80%. The actual number is around 35-50% [More Info]
  • Anas’ podcast – “Water You On About”, which he hosts with Liah Coggins (who will be on Episode 12, stay tuned) – Link on Podbean
    • We can both recommend the episode on “Fish, Vodka and the Titanic” (Episode 3)
    • To learn more about Limnologists do, check out “Why Limnologists have chips on their shoulders” (Episode 2)
  • Anas’ TEDx Talk “How to eat yourself out of a water shortage” on the urban water footprint and chocolate [Link]
    • We make reference to ‘Chocolate’ in Episode 5, check out how our guest from Episode 5, Peter A. Vanrolleghem relates to chocolate [Link]
    • We make reference to our guest from Episode 9, Ana Deletic – check out Ana’s episode [Link] for her journey – I hope to get both of them in the same kitchen soon! Not for research but for some great literal cooking!
    • Le 4 o’clock – Le quatre-heures – read more about it and if you get a chance, try a pain au chocolat
  • Leaving the Lecturn by Dean A. McManus [View on Amazon]
  • The best way to learn is to teach someone – The Feynman technique [Link]
  • ChatGPT: in case you have been living under a rock, here’s some background
    • Another reference to the latter half of Episode 5 with Peter A. Vanrolleghem on artificial intelligence
    • The poem that ChatGPT wrote for Liah’s Birthday (Liah is the guest of Episode 12)

Happy birthday to Liah,
A true engineer at heart,
She works on wastewater with ease,
And travels the world like a work of art.

She’s sweet like the cake she bakes,
Banana bread like no other can make,
And when she gets behind the wheel,
She drives like a Formula One champion for real.

We love her short fuse and her fire,
It’s part of what makes her so inspiring,
And on this special day we’re grateful,
To know her and celebrate her with great admiration

So here’s to Liah, on her special day,
May it be filled with love, laughter, and cake,
May all her dreams come true,
And may she always know how much we love her too.

– ChatGPT and Anas Ghadouani
  • More background on what Ramadan is all about [Wikipedia]
  • We continue the discussion of the “Trail of Kebab” from Episode 6, check out Episode 6 for some interesting discussions on cultural continuity and food with Arya Arabshahi [Link]
  • Anas finished with Support a Voice to parliament, a monumental vote taking place in Australia [More Info]
    • More about the referendum [Link]
    • The Uluru Statement [Link]

Connect with Anas Ghadouani