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Jonathan Choi, 2015, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Project: 
Impact of Fire and Grazing on Soil Respiration
Organization/Location: 
Mpala Research Centre, Laikipia District, Kenya
Adviser(s): 
Professor Kelly Caylor, Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Terrestrial world’s soils provide the second largest carbon sink in the world after the oceans. Understanding how these soils give off and take in carbon dioxide as a result of different environmental pressures from grazing and fire is crucial to understanding the role of African savannas in the global carbon budget. This summer, I spent 10 weeks researching the effects of herbivores and fire on various soil properties in the Laikipia District of Kenya at Princeton University’s Mpala Research Center. I used various field methods within the Kenya Long-term Exclosure Experiment (KLEE) to measure a variety of different soil properties and their relative role in climate change. I learned a lot about geochemistry and research methods through this internship. My experience at Mpala opened my eyes to the world of academic research and spurred my interest in potentially pursuing a career in academia. While I am unsure if I will continue to focus on soil biology, I’d like to continue exploring the intersection of land use, public policy, and the environment.