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.