Ecohydrology encompasses ideas and processes at the interface between hydrology and ecosystem ecology, and effects of biotic processes on the water cycle.
What are your degrees in?
I have a B.S. degree in Geography from Penn State University focused on remote sensing and geographic information systems; and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Environmental Sciences from the University of Virginia focused on hydrology. I completed a post-doc in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Cornell University focused on biogeochemistry.
How did you arrive at working in/thinking about ecohydrology?
When I was an undergraduate, I had the opportunity to work as a trainee via an internship at Battelle / Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. I was interested in pursuing a career in remote sensing at the time, but some great mentors there sparked my interest in surface and ground water. That internship got me excited about quantifying processes in nature and concepts like fractal scaling, and led directly to my graduate and postdoctoral work in hydrology. My research has since focused on understanding and predicting water quality, where you need to represent coupled hydrological, ecological, and geochemical processes in order to get it right.
What do you see as an important emerging area of ecohydrology?
I’m interested in how changes to eco-hydrologic systems – stemming from multiple stressors such as land use change, climate change, invasive species, and atmospheric deposition – will impact water quality and water scarcity. Many parts of the world already lack clean water, many landscapes are being degraded, and many surface and ground waters are being polluted. Water scarcity will be an even greater problem in the coming years as demand for water increases with population and economic growth. Concepts and tools from ecohydrology can help achieve sustainable management of water, and to help solve global water problems.
Do you have a favorite ecohydrology paper? Describe/explain.
Maciej Zalewski’s papers and reports have provided many ideas for my work, like his 2002 paper in Hydrological Sciences Journal on “Ecohydrology: the use of ecological and hydrological processes for sustainable management of water resources.” Zalewski was ahead of the times in promoting the role of ecosystem services in integrated watershed management. He articulates using ecosystem properties as a management tool to amplify opportunities and to eliminate threats – such as reducing point and non-point pollutants and mitigating catastrophic floods and droughts. I recommend that everyone read his stuff!
What do you do for fun (apart from ecohydrology)?
I love spending time with my family and friends exploring nature, especially in the forests, gorges, and lakes around Ithaca, NY. In an earlier phase of life I was into photography, and I still like capturing light, color, and adventures through pictures.