I am a Masters student working in the Hydrogeology Lab with Dr. Alicia Wilson. My research focuses on observing trends in salt marsh migration by using a numerical model to simulate groundwater movement in a salt marsh. The model takes into account rainfall, tides, and other parameters to produce water level and salinity concentrations. Salt marshes are important ecosystems in coastal communities and with the changing climate we need to assess how they might be affected with various disturbances. Groundwater flow in salt marshes is very vulnerable to disturbances due to the influence of tides, precipitation, evapotranspiration, and rising sea level. Precipitation input can vary related to drought periods or large rain events and the frequency of these events are increasing with our changing climate. Studying groundwater flow is an important first step in getting a better understanding of how plants native to this area will migrate, then in turn how we can prepare our coastal infrastructure for this change.
After graduating with my Bachelors from SUNY Purchase in New York, I worked as an outdoor science instructor at a non-profit organization and an education center specializing in coastal ecology. Both of these positions brought me to the salt marsh every day to teach and I developed an interest in studying this beautiful ecosystem- although the sulfur smell I could do without. I knew wetlands filter out contaminants in water very well from my undergraduate thesis project but I gained a curiosity about what other underground processes occur. After researching and attempting to find a match between relevant degree programs and interesting research I found the University of South Carolina. The professors I talked to were so welcoming, as well as the students in the Graduate Organization of Earth, Ocean, and Environment (GOEOE). This program and university were a great fit for me to explore new areas of research and gain more valuable experience.
After graduating I plan to work at the state or federal level as a hydrogeologist then after gaining experience I would like to work at a non-profit organization as a director. I would ideally like a hybrid of outdoor field work and indoor work analyzing data at the computer. After spending a few years after graduation teaching children I developed a passion for teaching, yet not quite enough passion to do that full-time. I have already joined the Environmental Educations Association of South Carolina so I will continue to do environmental outreach on my off time. I also volunteer at a local community garden, and organize outreach events as a co-chair Outreach Coordinator with the GOEOE. I would love to continue to do work assessing vulnerable water resources as well as teaching the next generation to respect and research our lovely Earth.