To me, ecohydrology focuses on the movement of water across many different spheres – groundwater, the vadose zone, surface water, vegetation, and the atmosphere – with special emphasis on the bidirectional interactions between water and living components of the ecosystem, including humans.
What are your undergraduate and graduate degrees in?
B.S. in Civil Engineering from Bucknell University
Ph.D. in Civil and Environmental Engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Madison
How did you arrive at working in/thinking about ecohydrology?
I’ve known since high school that I wanted my future career to have a strong connection to the environment, but it took a bit of exploration before I arrived at ecohydrology. Through undergraduate research experiences and internships, I tested out a few different directions I could go (think: drinking water treatment, environmental remediation) but eventually became involved in planning and baseline monitoring for a stream restoration on campus. I had been taking classes in conservation biology and ecosystem ecology on top of my civil engineering coursework, and the world of stream restoration really clicked with me. I followed this new interest to graduate school at UW-Madison, where I worked with Dr. Steve Loheide – a truly fantastic mentor. Upon arriving, I quickly shifted my focus to urban ecohydrology and in my current fellowship, have expanded to explore ecohydrology as it pertains to lake-groundwater interactions in agricultural regions. I continue to be interested in how humans intentionally and unintentionally alter ecohydrologic processes and how we can adjust our behavior to better support more sustainable and resilient communities.
What do you see as an important emerging area of ecohydrology?
I’m intrigued by what could come from pairing human behavior modeling with studies of ecohydrologic processes in human-dominated landscapes (e.g., urban, agricultural). At this point, many of our studies are aimed at understanding what the “best” management solutions are from an ecohydrologic perspective, without always accounting for how humans are most likely to behave. I look forward to seeing how our understanding of the “most effective” strategies may change as we improve how well we integrate humans into our studies of ecohydrologic processes.
Do you have a favorite ecohydrology paper? Describe/explain.
One paper I’ve been spending a lot of time with lately is “The ecological limits of hydrologic alteration (ELOHA): a new framework for developing regional environmental flow standards” by Poff et al. (2010). It’s not exactly a hidden gem – I’m sure many people are very familiar with it. But I really admire the effort made in this paper to offer clear, concrete suggestions for management while acknowledging and respecting the uncertainty in our understanding of ecohydrologic relationships. I am often struck by what a delicate tightrope walk this is and I anticipate that honing my own sense of balance in this area will be a long, ongoing process.
What do you do for fun (apart from ecohydrology)?
I enjoy reading a mix of fantasy, cozy mysteries, and non-fiction books. I’m a big fan of board games and I’m excited for a post-COVID return to evenings of dinner & games with friends. And I also enjoy getting outside by running, biking and walking or hiking with my dog.