Geography - University of Calgary
Fugitive methane emissions
I currently spend my days thinking up better ways to reduce fugitive (unintended) methane emissions from oil and gas operations. One way to do this is to develop platforms, sensors, and analytics for locating and characterizing leaking gas. Our lab is currently testing two novel platforms - one truck system (called PoMELO) and one drone system - by releasing gas into the air at a controlled rate (mobile controlled release lab pictured). In the future, I hope to explore how different platforms can work together at multiple spatial and temporal scales to optimize the ratio of mitigated emissions to the cost of the leak detection program. I am also interested in the perspectives of and relationships among regulators, industry, and academics as the three attempt to reconcile divergent views on how best to address the fugitive methane problem.
Geography - McGill University
Agricultural land use change in Kerala
I completed an M.Sc. in the Department of Geography at McGill University in Montreal, Canada. In general, I was interested in the interactions between agricultural systems, people, and natural environments. My research was based in Kerala, Southern India, where I studied land use dynamics in transitioning "traditional to modern" agroforestry systems. My research approach was interdisciplinary, combining data from species inventories, landholder interviews, biomass estimates, and the analysis of satellite imagery. My project sought first to characterize agricultural land use dynamics in Kerala over the preceding decade, and then to identify the primary drivers of these changes. I worked in collaboration with Kerala Agricultural University, and was funded by NSERC and the IDRC. I was supervised by Drs. Navin Ramankutty and Jeanine Rhemtulla.
Geography - University of Lethbridge
Wind science: Bison disturbance & blowing dust
During my B.Sc. I received two NSERC USRA awards to work with wind scientist Dr. Chris Hugenholtz. I spent the first summer studying the effects of bison wallowing behaviour on landscape heterogeneity. We explored the hypothesis that Canadian Sandhills are stabilizing as a result of bison extirpation in the 1800s. These sandhill ecosystems are rapidly disappearing, and are home to nearly one quarter of Canada's species at risk. For more, read our paper published in Biodiversity and Conservation.
The second summer was spent (i) determining from historical data that blowing dust frequency in the Canadian Prairies has declined significantly over the past 60 years, and (ii) trying to identify the drivers of this trend. As climate remained unchanged, we discovered that the reduction in airborne dust could be explained by improved agricultural management practices resulting in reduced soil erosion. You can read more here.
Geography - University of Lethbridge (cont.)
Glacier tributary-trunk interactions
Glacier systems are often dendritic, thus composed of a main trunk joined by tributary glaciers. Generally, tributary-trunk interactions can be defined by the degree to which the tributary overrides, is confluent with, or is sheared by the trunk glacier. As tributaries retreat, they eventually detach from their trunks in a process called glacier system fragmentation, which may influence further retreat through changes in mass balance and ice flow dynamics. My undergraduate thesis research aimed to quantify the effects of a bulging tributary on a temperate trunk glacier at Shackleton Glacier in the Canadian Rocky Mountains. To do this, a number of methods are employed, including GIS analysis of multi-annual stake velocity measurements, structural analysis of crevasses, and remote sensing analysis of SPOT imagery.
I was supervised by Dr. Hester Jiskoot.
Global relationships between plant leaf traits
Understanding how the productivity of species, functional groups, and entire ecosystems will respond in the face of climate change is very important. Towards the end of my B.Sc. I compiled, under the supervision of Dr. Matthew Letts, a global dataset to elucidate the dependency of photosynthetic water-use efficiency on vapour pressure deficit, leaf mass per unit area, and various other leaf traits for woody and herbaceous C3 species. While our work on this subject continues, we have found convincing evidence to suggest that plant leaves all over the world respond in similar ways to changing atmospheric demands for water, though the nature of this response depends largely on leaf physiology.
Biology - University of Lethbridge
Hummingbird foraging behaviour
Rufous hummingbirds visit hundreds of flowers in a day, and selective pressures ensure that they can effectively navigate back to those flowers that provide the greatest nectar rewards. I spent the first two summers of my B.Sc. working in the Rocky Mountains with Dr. Andy Hurly, receiving one NSERC USRA to do so.
We studied and tested the ability of male rufous hummingbirds to orient themselves in space, which they are thought to do by remembering flower position, flower traits (such as colour), and local and global landmarks. Experiments were conducted in a natural setting using artificial flowers and features. It turns out that, at least for hummingbirds, relative flower position (ie. geometry) is not as important as local landmarks.