Kathleen Ryan, 2014, Geosciences

At the Princeton Ecohydrology lab at the Mpala Research Center, Kenya, my ­colleagues and I sought to learn more about how vegetation, water, and the atmosphere all ­interact to create the climactic conditions characteristic of the dryland ecosystem we were ­living in. I was given the task of gathering and synthesizing rainfall data. By calibrating old and new rain gauges, correcting existing rainfall data, and creating a database with more than 40 years of daily rainfall measurements, I sought to make our existing rainfall data more useful. I also started a research project in which an air parcel trajectory program, HYSPLIT, made by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association’s Air Research Laboratory, is being used to show the trajectory of rainstorms experienced at Mpala, in order to get a better sense of how storm trajectory affects the isotopic signature of the rain water. Using the experimental skills I learned this summer, I hope to continue ­pursuing a career in environmental field research.