Ecohydrology to me is the study of the interactions between the hydrologic cycle and the ecosystems to acquire the essential tools to manage our soil and water resources sustainably, whether in natural, agricultural, or urban ecosystems.
What are your undergraduate and graduate degrees in?
I earned my bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Engineering from Junagadh Agricultural University, India. I later moved to the US to pursue my master’s degree in Agricultural Engineering at Texas A&M University, where I continued as a Ph.D. student after my graduation in 2020. I also worked as a Graduate Research Assistant at the Texas Water Resources Institute (TWRI) during my master’s.
How did you arrive at working in/thinking about ecohydrology?
A hydrologist at heart, I have always been curious about the impact of water on living things. However, my master’s thesis and most of my work at TWRI were primarily focused on water quality.
I was introduced to ecohydrology when I started my Doctorate, thanks to my advisor, Dr. Salvatore Calabrese. I have since thoroughly enjoyed understanding the dynamic nature of the hydrologic cycle and its linkage to climate, soil, and vegetation.
What do you see as an important emerging area of ecohydrology?
I think with our land being subjected to climate change and land-use changes, an emerging area of research would be to study the coupled interactions of the carbon cycle and water cycle with a specific focus on the central role of soils.
Interestingly, my current research focuses on developing a theoretical framework that couples the soil hydrologic processes to soil organic carbon dynamics through the dynamics of soil structure. Although hydrology is important as the biota depends on water, one cannot ignore the significant impact of roots, microbes on soil hydrology by modifying the soil environment and its associated properties. Thus, a critical aspect of our study is also to incorporate the effect of changes in soil structure on the activity of the soil microbial communities.
Do you have a favorite ecohydrology paper? Describe/explain.
That’s a tough question! If I had to pick one, it would be the first paper I read when I started my doctoral research by Laio et al. 2001 “Plants in water-controlled ecosystems: active role in hydrologic processes and response to water stress: II. Probabilistic soil moisture dynamics.” This paper provides an analytical solution of a stochastic ordinary differential soil water balance equation to analyze the vegetation response to water stress.
Laio, F., Porporato, A., Ridolfi, L., Rodriguez-Iturbe, I., 2001. Plants in water-controlled ecosystems: active role in hydrologic processes and response to water stress: II. probabilistic soil moisture dynamics. Advances in Water Resources 24, 707–723. doi:10.1016/s0309-1708(01)00005-7.
What do you do for fun (apart from ecohydrology)?
I like traveling both solo and in groups, which gives me the opportunity of meeting people from different cultures while exploring new places. I also enjoy watching Cricket and Tennis. In my everyday life, I look forward to spending time (virtually) with my mom and my two-year-old niece, Apple, back in India.