Sophia Su ’17


Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Project Title

Droughts of the Future: Climate Change Impacts on Western US Forests

Presentation Link

View Sophia's Presentation

This summer I worked with Dr. Bill Anderegg studying the effects of climate change on western U.S. forests in Cortez, Colorado. In the first experiment of the summer, we subjected the one seed juniper plant to a simulated drought environment by building transparent chambers around selected branches and artificially raising the temperature in the contained environment. In doing so, we were trying to understand the effects of a short-term heat shock and how quickly the juniper plant responds to and recovers from such an event. During the second half of the internship, we studied the depth ratio of water-conducting sapwood to non-conducting heartwood in four tree species in the San Juan National Forest. Fieldwork included tagging trees to establish new plots; surveying each tree for trunk diameter, bark depth, and other parameters; and taking core samples from each tree trunk and counting the number of sapwood rings and total rings. By studying the core samples, we were able to see how sapwood depth varies within a species and between species, as well as the effects of drought on tree growth. Through this internship, I gained extensive fieldwork experience, and learned new lab techniques and experimental design skills. The research allowed me to apply classroom knowledge and enriched my understanding of ecological systems.

Internship Year


Project Category

Climate Change and Environmental Science


Pacala Group, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Department, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ


Stephen Pacala, Professor, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology