Postgraduate Student Life @ CUHK
Aldilla Noor RAKHIEMAH
From Indonesia
PhD Graduate in Geography and Resource Management

Inspired to be a World Mover and a Game Changer

Aldilla Noor Rakhiemah (Dilla) wants to change the world. Born and raised in Indonesia, she has a true passion for the environment and wants to positively influence policymakers in the region to make sustainable energy changes. And thanks to her research studies at The Chinese University of Hong Kong, she is now living her dream.

The aspiration to make positive impacts on climate change stemmed from Dilla’s early career at an Indonesian national energy company. During that time, her interest in sustainable energy resources began to grow. She knew that in order to make a real impact in developing countries in Southeast Asia, she would need to further her studies, so she began to look up university rankings to look for the best universities in the region. That’s when Dilla came upon the PhD programme at CUHK.

By chance, she stumbled on the University’s website and found her supervisor’s profile. She realised that his research was similar to what she wanted to do and so she decided to reach out to him to ask about opportunities. She could hardly believe her luck when he wrote back and told her to apply for the PhD programme at CUHK.

“At the time he also advised me that aside from the Hong Kong PhD Fellowship (HKPFS) Scheme, the University itself gives out scholarships, too,” she recalls. With such support and positive feedback, Dilla decided to apply for a spot at CUHK.

“I had to try as CUHK is a top university,” she said.

Putting learning into action

Coincidentally, as Dilla began her PhD in Geography and Resource Management, she also started her research work with the regional organisation ASEAN within its research think tank, the ASEAN Centre for Energy. As a result, she was able to directly apply what she was studying at CUHK to a real-world setting, which she felt was a dream come true.

“Because this is a research think tank, it’s very aligned with what I’m studying,” she explained. “Furthermore, this research think tank is not only about energy, but it’s also about protecting ASEAN’s climate change and energy projects.”

With all 10 ASEAN nations’ energy ministers making up the think tank, Dilla has the unique opportunity to explore their various aspirations and apply her learnings to their real-world scenarios to influence policymakers. With her research area focused on carbon capturing and utilization, her contribution is priceless. Especially in developing countries that continue to rely on fossil fuels such as burning coal to generate power, Dilla’s work helps them to find new ways to extract energy, store and transport it, in order to meet their climate reduction targets and goals.

“So what I do is not only focused on the policy and economic sides, but it’s also about calculating costs, and exploring what policies are needed to make it all happen in a country like Indonesia,” she said.  

Making an impact

Dilla’s work has a major impact on sustainability and climate change, and she attributes all her successes to CUHK which she credits as giving her the skill sets, academia and ability to do research. “All my basic research skills were from CUHK and when I graduate and finish my PhD, I would have come from one of the best universities, which can definitely help me achieve my dreams. It opens doors,” she smiled.

And in fact, her research falls succinctly under one of the four strategic areas that the University has been focusing its efforts on — Environmental and Sustainability. For this reason, Dilla found herself to be on the receiving end of incredible support which allows her to make positive contributions to society through advocating environmental sustainability. “I’m so glad I could contribute to the University’s mission, I also get to help countries reduce their emissions which promotes the Earth’s sustainability,” she said.

Looking to the future, Dilla is focused on honing her research skills, so that she can contribute even more in her field. She hopes to continue working with think tanks to find ways to make more effective impacts on the environment. “I want to be part of a think tank so that I can apply what I’m studying and researching into the real world,” she explained. “CUHK has helped me develop all my research skills, so I want to build on that. I know it can definitely help me achieve my dreams.”