“I felt I wanted to work in a more down-to-earth way”

Marie Haeger-Eugensson – Head of R&D at COWI.

“My education was in physical geography and my thesis was on urban climates. I worked at the IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute for many years before coming here to COWI. I felt that I wanted to work in a more down-to-earth way, with those who are developing our cities.

I launched COWI’s air and climate operations when I started here in 2014. It was a bit slow initially. Air quality was not part of our tenders. But today, the group consists of 20 people, whom I mentor.

Although air quality has improved since emissions decreased, the densification of cities entails a greater risk of a deterioration in air quality. High-rise buildings that are built close together do not allow for air to circulate in the same way.  Last year, the WHO introduced new guidelines on air quality, in response to new research indicating that even low levels of air quality have consequences for our health. In many cases, the guidelines mean a halving of previous levels, which is a problem for many cities in Sweden. In Gothenburg, where our main road run through the city centre, we are already experiencing numerous problems with the air, and it’s unlikely to improve. When making projections for 2035 based on the forecast traffic, particulate matter is the concern, but measures that can be taken are extremely limited.

When I started at COWI, one of the requirements was that I would be able to continue conducting research. I’m an adjunct senior lecturer at the Department of Earth Sciences, where I teach students and collaborate with researchers. The link between academia and the business community is important for both parties. For academia, it is important to identify what needs exist, even though research cannot be based solely on present-day needs, while for the business community, it is important to keep track of what is happening within research. We also take on students for their degree projects, which is an excellent way for us to collaborate. I have since employed many of them”.

Marie Haeger-Eugensson

Education: Thesis in Physical Geography at the University of Gothenburg, 1999.

Current position: Head of R&D at COWI. Also adjunct senior lecturer at the Department of Earth Sciences.

Leisure activities: I like to go for long walks with our dog and enjoy being out at sea. I also like good old-fashioned aerobics and I read a lot, as I’m in a book club.