Meet Dr Olga Barron
International hydrogeologist helping local communities
Dr Olga Barron’s love for hydrogeology has taken her all over the world.
Originally from Moscow, Olga worked as a senior scientific researcher for the Research Institute of Survey for Construction in Moscow before moving to Ireland to work as a senior research fellow at the University of Limerick.
In 2003, Olga came to Western Australia to work for CSIRO as a senior research scientist. Perth was obviously to her liking and she decided to stay; quoting Western Australia’s beaches and beautiful sunsets as a major attraction.
As a project leader of the Integrated Water Systems stream for CSIRO’s Water for a Healthy Country Flagship and team leader in CSIRO Land and Water, Olga finds teamwork the most appealing aspect of her job.
“Leading large-scale, multidisciplinary projects within the Water for a Healthy Country Flagship is very rewarding,” she says. “It is also very satisfying when the client understands and appreciates the outcomes of our research.”
Olga’s research is providing the science to help inform urban development whilst insuring the protection of nearby waterways.
Some of the major projects Olga has been involved with include the multi-million dollar Rural Town - Liquid Assets and Swan Futures projects. Both these projects addressed integrated urban water management to improve water supply and reduce the impact on the environment.
“The supply of water and the health of nearby rivers and estuaries are two pressing issues related to any expansion of cities,” says Olga.
“For instance, in Perth, nearly 300 gigalitres of water per year is used for irrigating residential areas and public open space. This is more than 40 per cent of the total water use,” she says.
“In addition, rivers and drains in the Perth metropolitan area contribute 180 tonnes of nitrogen and 16 tonnes of phosphorus to the Swan River estuary annually."
The ultimate aim of Olga’s research is to reduce the community’s dependence on centralised water supply schemes by ensuring environmentally-safe alternatives. In addition, her research is helping to control nutrient export that can contribute to algal blooms and to ensure the maintenance of environmental flows to the receiving water bodies.
Olga puts her work ethic down to her father. “My father is a professor of mathematics and has worked all his life in irrigation and water resources management,” she says. “One of the many lessons he taught me was that natural ability is only a gift, hard work makes you what you are!”
Dr Barron has a doctorate in Engineering Geology and Environmental Geology from Moscow State University (1986) and a doctorate in Chemical and Environmental Sciences from the University of Limerick, Ireland (2000).
Olga Barron, CSIRO Land and Water