Meet SMHI researcher Andrea Popp: "It was only then I realised that research was for me"

Andrea Popp is a hydrological researcher at SMHI, and her motivation originates from a deep care for the environment and nature. In addition to her research, she is committed to addressing equality and diversity issues within the scientific community.

Hydrology is the study of water, and Andrea's research focuses on water cycle processes and water quality.

"I am interested in many environmental topics, but water is the most important resource we have because it is essential for all living things. That is why I chose to work in hydrology", says Andrea.

Selfie of Andrea Popp
Andrea Popp.

Environmental interest started early

Growing up in a small village in the German countryside, Andrea's curiosity about the environment and nature began in her childhood.

"I have always had a strong sense of care for our environment. I have memories of being a child and feeling deeply touched when I saw news reports about, for example, dead whales or environmental pollution."

Did you always know you were going to be a scientist?

"No, I knew I wanted to work on environmental issues, but I didn't know how to do it. No one in my family had studied at university when I was growing up, so it was only when I started university that I realised that becoming a scientist was an option for me too."

Applied research

Andrea completed her Ph.D. at ETH Zurich and continued her hydrological research at the University of Oslo. She has been working at SMHI since 2022, focusing on investigating the impact of climate change on hydrological processes.

"What I appreciate about working at SMHI is that our scientific work gets applied, e.g., to improve streamflow predictions in Sweden. This means that when we research and develop something, it is because there is a need to use it in society."

Andrea Popp on Svalbard, around her a beautiful glacial landscape.
Andrea Popp has a special interest in Arctic hydrology, here she is on fieldwork in Svalbard.

Committed to equality

Andrea has published several scientific studies, managed research projects, obtained research grants and led courses in hydrological modelling. However, when asked what she is most proud of in her research career, she mentions something beyond her individual accomplishments.

"It is the work I've done for equality and inclusion in the scientific community. I'm part of the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Committee of the European Geosciences Union, a non-profit organization with over 15,000 members working in geoscience disciplines. The geosciences is one of the least diverse science communities of all STEMM fields. If we exclude people and do not allow everyone to contribute to science, we also risk missing out on valuable knowledge and skills", says Andrea Popp.