Visit to UC Berkeley

Last week, I went out to California to initiate a new collaboration with Pr. Sally Thompson at UC Berkeley. Pr. Thompson has been collecting leaf wetness data at multiple sites across California, and I will be using her dataset together with my leaf energy balance model to estimate the reduction in transpiration associated with dew and fog formation. I got the chance to visit one of the field sites, the Blue Oak Ranch Reserve, located up in the hills above San Jose. See the gallery below to see some pictures of my trip!

Amazing views of Mpala

One of our summer research intern made an amazing video of Mpala seen from a drone. I haven’t worked at Mpala since 2011, but this video made me really nostalgic of the beautiful landscapes and all the animals that you get to see when you work there! Browse the video to see giraffes, zebras, dromedaries, elephants, hippos, and fast forward to 1:09 to get a good look at the Caylor Lab flux tower.

A summer in the lab

This summer I finally started my own research project. I spent the summer working in the Caylor Lab in Princeton, helped by Craig Sinkler, a student from Rider University who did an internship in our lab this summer. We planted six large bulbs of Colocasia esculenta that we watered until the plants reached maturity. After about 4 weeks of growth, we stopped watering the plants. Every two days, we sprayed the leaves of half of the plants with isotopically spiked water, while the other half of the plants did not get any water. We collected leaves from each treatment and looked at the spatial distribution of water isotopes in the leaf using the Picarro Induction Module. I then built maps of the leaf isotopes for leaves collected at different times within a 4 week long treatment. 

In order to help us interpret the evolution of the spatial patterns of the leaf isotopes, I also started running a water potential experiment in which I leave a leaf dry out under a heat lamp over a period of 10 hours and collect samples every half hour that I run on the WP4C to measure leaf water potential. I have been running the same experiment but spraying the leaf with ultra pure water every hour to look at whether foliar uptake is actually happening in Colocasia esculenta and how it improves water potential. Preliminary results show that foliar uptake is indeed happening!