My thesis project is looking at the effect of land cover on watershed water quality. In particular, the project will aim to show the improvement that could be made to water quality by managing lawns less intensively and using more native plants in landscaping. For me, this thesis project is the perfect blend of science and applicable policy that I was looking for in a graduate program.
Water quality trading is a relatively new policy approach, and we cannot look to traditional agricultural conservation adoption or even other environmental markets to make an easy comparison and determine how well the water quality markets will function. Trading is the latest attempt to gain an environmental outcome through payment for conservation. My project is investigating whether low cost BMPs provide farmer income through nutrient trades, whether a monitoring network and technology benefit cost analysis improve regulator and farmer information, and the potential for water quality assurance to be improved with monitoring contracts.
My research interests are primarily environmental and water resource management, with a special emphasis on drinking water. I've worked in this area both at home and abroad, through the University and through external organizations. My main area of interest for my thesis is the protection of drinking water sources and the legal variation between the states, particularly in the Delaware River Basin. Personally, I really enjoy the sense of community that this program has. There's definitely a sense that we're all in this together, and it's something we're all passionate about. It's hard not to thrive in that kind of academic atmosphere.
My research is looking at the effect of storm events on the export of particulate organic carbon and nitrogen (POC and PON) from a forested watershed. Specifically, I’m trying to explore what are the sources of POC and PON in storm events, how the export of POC and PON changes with catchment scale, and what are the effects of storm events on the quantity (concentration and mass) and quality (bioavailability) of POC and PON. I think this program is great because it is an interdisciplinary program. You get more chances to take courses from various disciplines and work with people from different backgrounds.