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By Ashmita Sengupta Brett Muir Roshan Dodanwela 8 July 2022 3 min read

Ashmita Sengupta is an environmental and civil engineer working as a senior research scientist in our Managing Water Ecosystems Group.

We’re working with Ashmita and other engineers through our Engineering Community of Practice to develop their capability and build their professional networks.

So what does a career as an engineer look like here at CSIRO? Well, the answer to that question is about as diverse as our areas of research. So, we are profiling our people to show you all of the possibilities that come with life as an engineer.

We caught up with Ashmita to hear about her career journey and current work.

Hey Ashmita! Tell us a little bit about yourself and your role as an engineer at CSIRO

Hello, I am Ashmita, an environmental and civil engineer by training and a scientist by trade. I am a senior research scientist in the Managing Water Ecosystems Group, Water Security Program in the Land and Water Business Unit.

I grew up in India and have been fortunate to now have lived in four continents! Prior to moving to Australia, I worked in California on freshwater and near ocean systems. I am an eco-hydrologist, which means, I look at the impact of hydrological alterations on ecosystems. I am a modeller, but also enjoy getting out in the real world for sampling and data collection.

What is the nature of your day-to-day work?

My expertise and interests are in ecohydrology and adaptive management of water resources - balancing ecosystem health with increasing water demands and climate change. My work is quite varied, since as well as engineering and research, I also engage with stakeholders and explore the significance of policy and governance.  I primarily work on the Murray-Darling Basin, previously I worked on arid rivers systems in Southern California.

Ashmita's work as an engineer balances climate change, ecosystem health and increasing water demands.

Can you tell us about the impact of some of your work?

My work contributes to the description of major ecosystem components and related functions in the Murray-Darling Basin.Outputs of this research informs water management towards ecosystem functions and a healthy working Basin. This work guides management decisions and ensures investments towards future monitoring and evaluation are well targeted.

I lead the hydrological evaluation of the impact of Commonwealth environmental flows in supporting, restoring and improving the flows in selected areas of the Murray-Darling Basin. This work is critical to environmental water delivery decision making. Hydrology is the integrator providing a basis for the evaluation of outcomes for biodiversity, ecosystem function and resilience at the Basin scale.

I also worked on building hydrological models to inform biocontrol of Common carp in the Murray Darling Basin.Carp are an invasive species of the rivers and waterways of south-eastern Australia, implicated in the serious decline of many native fish species. The use of Cyprinid herpesvirus 3 (CyHV-3), has been proposed as a biocontrol agent on account of its high specificity and mortality rates.

What attracted you to becoming an engineer and working at CSIRO?

I have always enjoyed physics and maths, so engineering was a natural segue. CSIRO was a happy accident. I was looking for a change and CSIRO was looking for my skillset, thankfully we were a good fit, it has been a fantastic journey here.

When you were 10 years old, what job did you want?

It changed every month, and thankfully my parents provided the environment to explore each. For example, when architect was the flavour of the month, my dad took me to meet his architect friend, and bought me an easel and sheets so that I could design my buildings.

These days, what do you want to be when you grow up?

Hah, I spend a lot of time thinking about this. First and foremost, I want to be an openminded person, a trusted and competent coworker, and I want to embrace generosity. It is interesting to note that when I was younger ‘growing up’ to be something was very tangible - like be an engineer.Nowadays, it is almost trying to polish the intangibles in some way; be kind, be the person that others come to when in need.

Have you enjoyed reading about Ashmita's and Chloe's[Link will open in a new window] career journeys to become engineers at CSIRO?

As a scientist or engineer here at CSIRO, you have the opportunity to make the impossible, possible - leading to scientific achievements that have a positive impact. Think you could help us to solve the world’s greatest challenges? Sign up for job notifications on ourcareers portal[Link will open in a new window].

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