Meet our new Researcher: Alexandra Urgilez Vinueza


On the 1st of April, IGRAC welcomed Alexandra Urgilez Vinueza as their new Researcher. After obtaining her undergraduate degree at the Universidad de Cuenca (Ecuador) and MSc at the Newcastle University (UK), Alexandra came to The Netherlands for an PhD with the faculty of Civil Engineering at TU Delft. Time to sit down with Alexandra for an interview.

What is your academic background?

"I did my undergraduate in Civil Engineering at Universidad de Cuenca, Ecuador and my master’s degree in Hydrogeology and Water Management at Newcastle University, England. Currently, I’m in the last year of my PhD at the faculty of Civil Engineering of TU Delft, Netherlands." 

What is your work experience?

"I started working as a researcher in PROMAS (Programa para el manejo del agua y el suelo), Universidad de Cuenca after graduating, in 2014. I participated in the irrigation team in the development of the PACALORI project, aimed at designing earth dams in the coastal region of Ecuador for rainwater harvesting and further use in irrigation among other uses. In 2016 I worked for 8 months at PETROAMAZONAS, as a Project Engineer in the development of civil structures for oil abstraction in Ecuador. In October 2017, I had the opportunity to go back to PROMAS to be head of the Groundwater Department until January 2018. I started my PhD in April 2018 at TU Delft, focusing on landslide hydrology. More specifically, slow-moving landslides in south-east Ecuador."

Why did you apply at IGRAC?

"During the development of my academic years as a hydrogeologist and as a researcher, I’ve come across some challenges. Some of these challenges are related to the expertise of the subject, but also they are related to the data availability in a specific study area. Data scarcity is a reality, specially in countries such as Ecuador, where I’ve developed my research. I’ve adapted to this reality, and found other ways to continue with my research, but better results could be yielded if in such locations data were available. When I saw that IGRAC was looking for someone to join their team with the objective of tackling this issue I felt compelled to become a part of it. I recognize the need of the projects that are being carried out by the group and the potential they have in the integrated development of a region."

What do you expect from your time at IGRAC?

"I expect to improve myself professionally as well as personally. IGRAC combines technical projects, which I’ve had experience with before; and policy related projects, which is something I want to improve my knowledge on. Additionally, IGRAC provides an environment that promotes personal growth by encouraging and supporting their researchers."