South African Student Wins Top International Green Talents Award in Berlin, Germany

©DLR Manuela Meyer GT2019_Gruppenfoto
  • Green Talents celebrates 10 years
  • South African winner among this year`s “Green Talents”
  • 25 Green Talents 2019 awarded in Berlin
  • Alumni Survey demonstrates that the award positively influences the career of scientists awarded as “Green Talents”

The 25 international awardees of this year’s Green Talents Competition have travelled to Germany to attend the Science Forum for talented junior researchers from the field of sustainability science. 2019 marks the ten-year anniversary of the programme under the motto ‘Smart Green Planet‘ – Solutions for a Sustainable Future.

This year, a high-ranking jury of German experts selected 25 up-and-coming researchers from among 837 applicants and 97 countries, which marks a new high score of applications received. Furthermore, and for the first time ever, winners from Cameroon, Lebanon, Morocco and Papua New Guinea are among the chosen awardees.

Held under the patronage of the Federal Minister of Education and Research, Ms Anja Karliczek. The award has been honouring talented researchers since 2009 and provides young scientists with a platform for sharing their innovative green concepts to help shaping a more sustainable future.

Kathryn Arnold, from Pretoria, Brooklyn conducted her research Master’s Geoinformatics and advanced geospatial analysis for urban and regional planning support at the University of Cape Town.

Green Talents visited German research institutions, universities and organisations concerned with sustainability science and discuss their projects with local experts.

Among the research institutions included in this year’s programme are the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence in Saarbrücken, the United Nations University Institute for Environment and Human Security in Bonn, RWTH Aachen University, and the Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy.

Furthermore, Germanwatch e. V., a non-governmental organisation based in Bonn was visited, as well as the company Covestro AG, which will present itself at K 2019, a trade fair for plastics and rubber in Düsseldorf.

To celebrate the 10th anniversary, the tour ended with a major Networking Conference bringing together the awardees, further distinguished German experts from the field of sustainability research and selected Green Talents alumni.

By establishing contacts with the German science community and exchanging ideas with its key innovators, the awardees will be able to lay the foundations for future cooperation. These efforts are supported by the invitation to return to Germany in 2020 for a fully funded research stay at an institution of their choice.

The 25 Green Talents were honoured by Parliamentary State Secretary Dr Michael Meister during a festive award ceremony within the framework of the Networking Conference, attended by embassy representatives, key representatives of the German sustainability landscape, former awardees, and other renowned guests.

About Kathryn Arnold

Kathryn ARNOLD, Master’s Student in Engineering Geomatics (South Africa)

Kathryn Arnold is passionate about applying her knowledge and expertise in geoinformatics to the urban and built environment challenges facing South Africa. Her current research focus is modelling population data at spatial level. Information on the spatial distribution of population development is essential to regional and urban planning. Spatial population distribution is furthermore important for planning processes in order to prepare for possible climate change impacts.


Research focus: geoinformatics and advanced geospatial analysis for urban and regional planning support

Information on the distribution of population and the driving forces behind its rapid changes are critical to almost all kinds of urban and regional planning processes for future development. Most publicly available estimations of future population development target at a global or national scale, rather than at a localized scale. To provide planning support that is sensitive to challenges in a local context and to incorporate this knowledge into spatial planning processes, accurate population projection data are required at a finer scale.

Kathryn’s research focuses on exploring economic change as a factor in the temporal evolution of the distribution of people in South Africa across different cities, regions or parts of the country. The significance of her research lies in supporting climate risk and vulnerability planning, where spatially explicit population data are crucial for scenario-driven assessments of climate change impacts, but high spatial resolution population projection data are an invaluable resource to all forward-looking planning activities.

Her research is aimed at supporting fine-scale demographic change modelling. Kathryn is involved in developing a settlement growth model to spatially distribute national population projection data so that those can be used to predict long-term population change at settlement level for South Africa.

She is using advanced geographic information systems (GIS) as well as spatial statistics to develop a methodology for downscaling population projections to high spatial resolution in support of providing a sound evidence base for local planning and decision-making that is inclusive and sustainable.

Kathryn is keen to profit from the internationally recognized expertise of the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (MPIDR) in its efforts to use new data sources to estimate migration flows and population changes, both spatially and temporally.

The jury was impressed by the work of this promising young scientist. Spatially distributed population projection data will help to plan sustainable settlements. Her research is of great importance for her home country as well as worldwide.