Meet Brittany Johnson, a graduate student working in the field of hydrology for the Division of Earth and Ecosystem Sciences. Her research focuses on the effects of climate change on vegetation, decomposition, microbial activity, and soil pedology in the Great Basin.
What brought you to DRI?
The unique partnership between DRI and UNR provides many opportunities to work with outstanding scientists in nearly every field. The environment at DRI fosters collaboration between disciplines and encourages independent graduate student activity.
What are you studying?
My research focuses on the effects of climate change on vegetation, decomposition, microbial activity, and soil pedology. I am examining and quantifying the environmental controls on transpiration (as measured via sap flow) in the Great Basin and how changes in climate may influence tree activity. Performing snowpack manipulations in the Sierras has allowed me to assess the effects of changing precipitation regimes on soil nutrient cycling and decomposition. I am also evaluating the variations of soils along elevational transects in the Great Basin and northern Mohave caused by both historical climate and vegetation.
What research projects are you working on? And who at DRI are you working with?
I am working on the NSF-EPSCoR funded project NevCAN (the Nevada Climate-Ecohydrological Assessment Network, http://nevcan.dri.edu/ or http://sensor.nevada.edu/). This is a project that spans many institutions, including DRI Reno, DRI Las Vegas, UNR, and UNLV, as well as state and federal organizations like BLM and Great Basin National Park. My advisor is Dr. Jay Arnone III.
What are your short-term and long-term goals while at DRI?
My short-term goals are to take advantage of the interdisciplinary environment at DRI to expand my knowledge on a variety of subjects and to work with people from different disciplines. My long-term goals are to complete my degree while doing quality science with a great group of people.
Tell us about yourself. What do you do for fun?
In my spare time, I have enjoyed hiking, backpacking, camping, and kayaking in the Sierras with my husband, also a doctoral candidate at DRI, and our dog, Penny. We have been fortunate to be able to take several road trips to all the Western US and the Canadian Rockies while in grad school. My husband and I have also created a website of hikes, waterfalls, and wildflowers that we have seen on our travels (https://sites.google.com/site/zbjohnsonadventures/).
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