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Show and Tell: for a sustainable environment    Feb 18, 2019

Show and Tell: for a sustainable environment
Feb 18, 2019


Mevrouw Parisa RAFIAANI


Welcome to show and tell. Today we sit together with Ph.D. student Parisa Rafiaani, who investigates the social impact of sustainability to improve the wellbeing of society. Parisa shows us her favorite spot on campus and tells us all about her research, dreams, ambitions and passions…


Q: “Why did you choose this location?

A: “When I arrived in Belgium and saw the main building of UHasselt, I felt so happy that my dream finally came true. I really like this beautiful glassy building as it reminds me of the patience and hard work it took to make my dreams come true.

Q: “How would you explain your research to a five-year-old?

A: “Our planet is damaged a lot by humans. We have polluted the earth to the point where it becomes hard for the animals and people to live healthy. With my research, I am trying to show new ways to the world to save the environment, so that when you grow up and have your own kids, they will also be able to live, have fun and be healthy on our planet.

Q: “What is the status of your research?

A: “I am in the final stages of my Ph.D. My research focuses on the social and economic impact of bio based technologies. At the moment I am dealing with a semi-quantitative approach for assessing the social impacts of a Belgian company. They are working with algae biomass production through an innovative cultivation system taking up CO2 emissions as a source for growing algae. The end goal of my Ph.D. is to integrate this social data into a techno-economic assessment model.


Q: “Why this research?

A: “Sustainability has three pillars: economic, environmental and social. However, the latter is usually neglected in sustainability assessments, especially with regards to bio-based technologies that are still in the R&D stage. To fill this gap, I chose to work on the social impact of this kind of technologies. This in order to show their potential not only from an environmental and economical perspective but also to improve the wellbeing of society. For example, my research results can be useful for policymakers to develop more effective policies and decide on priorities in the support of innovative technologies from a social perspective.

Q: “If you wouldn’t be working at UHasselt, where would you be now?

A: “At this stage of my life, doing a Ph.D. was my main goal. In 2015, I received two offers for starting a Ph.D. at the same time and I decided to come to UHasselt. So, if I hadn’t made that choice, I would have ended up in Switzerland doing a Ph.D. in Tourism Management. However, I am 100 % convinced that I made the right choice as I am very happy with my life here, both personally and professionally.


Q: “What did you want to become growing up?

A: “I have always dreamed of becoming a doctor so I could save people’s lives. However, when I was a teenager I realized that I couldn’t even tolerate seeing blood. So, instead, I decided to start saving people’s life by saving the planet they live on. And here I am.

Q: “What are your professional ambitions?

A: “My professional dream is to run an NGO. So that I can actively participate in creating a better environment on earth and help people live a more sustainable lifestyle.

Q: “One final question, what is a book/movie/concert that you would recommend to colleagues?

A: “The movie (and the book) 'Into the wild' inspired by a true story of Christopher McCandless, is about the travel experiences of a fearless risk-taker who wrestles with the precarious balance between man and nature. It shows 'how important it is in life not necessarily to be strong but to feel strong; to measure yourself at least once' (Sean penn, 2007).