Sindiso Nyathi, 2016, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
I spent the summer working with four other undergraduates and Prof. Adam Wolf assessing the possible effects of changing climate on transpiration and water use in trees–primarily the white oak, black oak and pitch pine. My role was to determine how different levels of water availability affect transpiration in trees. I did this by constructing sap-flow probes, which measure the sap flow rate of trees. These trees were then artificially subjected to varying levels of water availability and their sap flow rates measured. The sap flow rates were then used to calculate transpiration at different times of day and at different water availability levels. In addition to constructing, installing, and maintaining the probes, I wrote the programs used to analyze the data collected. I conducted research to investigate how previous researchers had determined estimates of transpiration, attempted to replicate these methods, and determined which was the most efficient. I gained practical skills in circuit design and circuit construction, working with languages such as CRBasic and Matlab, and working with Dataloggers. The internship has encouraged me, among other things, to further investigate the application of automated computer systems in the monitoring of environmental conditions.