Alice Suh, 2012, Civil and Environmental Engineering

I spent the summer at Mpala Research Center and Wildlife Conservancy in Kenya as an intern at the Princeton Ecohydrology Lab. As one of three undergraduate ­interns, I assisted Professor Kelly Caylor and Dr. Keir Soderberg with the lab’s ­ongoing ­research on the hydrological cycle in the semi-arid savannah, and its interaction with ­dryland ecosystems. This research involves the long-term monitoring of rainfall, ­vegetation, and soil moisture, including the analysis of isotope signatures in water ­samples ­collected in the field. My focus was on conducting and improving the monitoring of ­vegetation. I conducted several types of vegetation monitoring transects at key ­locations around Mpala, and developed a non-destructive procedure for measuring ­above-ground ­biomass. I also performed comparisons of instruments used for ­measuring leaf ­water potential and stomatal conductance, which will inform future protocol for ­monitoring water stress and transpiration as well as research in isotope fractionation during transpiration under various degrees of water stress.