Teaching. Seminar. Research! Fall 2018 was jam packed. Between teaching Fundamentals of Ecology and running our department’s seminar, I extracted stem water from the trees in my plots above the caves. The water in the stem is representative of the water source of the tree at the time of sampling. Analyzing the oxygen and hydrogen stable isotopes of the stem water and comparing them to the environmental water sources (i.e. precipitation, soil water, groundwater) allows us to determine if the tree is using shallow or deep water.
This data complimented the rest of my genetics and stable isotope data, allowing me to present this information at the American Geophysical Union in Washington D.C. in December. I was able to see my cousins as well as see great friends and meet new ones. While I was there, I had the amazing opportunity to speak at the National Geographic Society headquarters along with some of my fellow Explorers. It was so awesome to hear about the incredible work that is being conducted around the world and across a number of fields – from examining rivers on Earth to understand ancient rivers on Mars to analyzing the dynamics of lava flow to aid in warning systems for communities in volcanic regions.
After leaving the conference, I was able to spend time with my family during the holidays, a much needed break before gearing up for the spring semester. Along with organizing seminar again, I am writing two manuscripts and looking forward to possible traveling to Quintana Roo in the summer.