To me, ecohydrology is largely the synthesis of hydrology, ecology, and the computational sciences, all viewed through the lens of water storage and transport. Where is water going to be (or not be!)? How does it get there? How does it impact ecosystems?
What are your undergraduate and graduate degrees in?
I have a bachelor’s degree in Physics from Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) and am currently a Ph.D. candidate in environmental engineering at the University of Michigan.
How did you arrive at working in/thinking about ecohydrology?
I came to ecohydrology in a roundabout way. While doing my physics undergrad, I had an empty class slot I needed to fill. I searched around the catalog until I found a class called “hydrogeology.” I had no idea what this really was, but the course description said they were applying Newtonian physics to groundwater systems, and that was enough for me. I loved the class so much that I stayed on and did undergraduate research in watershed hydrology and water quality. Over time, I became more and more fascinated with the interactions between vegetation and water and how they are impacted by natural and anthropogenic changes. I decided to dive in head first for grad school and now I’m using my physics background to explore how forests respond to water limitation.
What do you see as an important emerging area of ecohydrology?
I think there is a great opportunity for ecohydrology to be used for urban environments. Whether it is the design of green infrastructure to control runoff and treat water or the management of urban forests, ecohydrologists can provide valuable insights and computational expertise.
Do you have a favorite ecohydrology paper? Describe/explain.
One of the first papers I was given to read as a graduate student was Modeling the Exchanges of Energy, Water, and Carbon between Continents and the Atmosphere by (Sellers et al. 1997, DOI: 10.1126/science.275.5299.502). There I was first introduced to the rock star that was Piers Sellers. In looking at interactions between the biosphere and climate, he took a very multi-faceted approach: remote sensing, computational models, ground validation, FLYING IN SPACE!! As if this wasn’t enough, he took time to communicate science to the general public, even while battling cancer.
What do you do for fun (apart from ecohydrology)?
I love to explore parks and woods with my two children. Last summer we spent three weeks camping and hiking in national parks throughout the central US. If the weather isn’t cooperating, I like to cozy up with a good movie or book.