A researcher’s quest to clean Nepal’s water leads to an unexpected journey

Published: Tuesday 21st January 2020
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As a researcher at the Nepal Academy of Science and Technology (NAST), Dr. Tista Prasai Joshi (right), collects a river water sample with Research Assistant Lerensa Shrestha in the Nuwakot District, near Kathmandu. They are monitoring water pollution. (Photo by Mahesh Kafle)

In her studies as an environmental biologist, Dr. Tista Prasai Joshi has been tackling a problem that has sickened thousands in rural Nepal.

Her search for a solution began 17 years ago when, as a master’s student, she was granted a research opportunity at the Nepal Academy of Science and Technology (NAST).

Her journey would ultimately take her more than 2,000 miles from home to a world-renowned research institute. In 2013, she was awarded a scholarship to pursue a PhD in Environmental Engineering at the University of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (UCAS) in Beijing.He told me, ‘Mom, just pass the PhD – don’t you fail.’On March 23, 2013, Tista hugged her 7-year-old son, Manas, goodbye. He would stay with her extended family while she pursued her research there, returning for a visit once a year during holidays. She recalled her son’s advice before she departed:

Her family has always supported her pursuit of science, including her husband, Dr. Dev Raj Joshi, who is Associate Professor of microbiology at Tribhuvan University, Nepal.

“He always supported me and … always mentored me,” Tista said.

Her late mother, Sanu Baba Prasai, “was a real inspiration for my career development,” Tista added. “She always encouraged me to pursue my PhD because she wanted her daughter to become a doctor.”

And her son is fascinated with science, often quizzing his mother. “Oh, he asks me so many funny, funny questions,” Tista said. “And sometimes he also challenges me: ‘You are a scientist, but you cannot answer it?’” She laughed.

“I am a scientist in a particular field, but he thinks that I should know everything about science.”

Read the full article on Elsevier Connect: “A researcher’s quest to clean Nepal’s water leads to an unexpected journey”, Alison Bert, 15 January, 2020.