Modeling the Agricultural-Hydraulic System in Punjab, India: (Spring 2016 – Present)

For my honors thesis, I am modeling both the groundwater flow and the economic system in Punjab, India, where agricultural growth has led to severely depleted groundwater resources.

ABSTRACT: The goal of food security for India’s growing population is threatened by the decline in freshwater resources due to unsustainable water use for irrigation. The issue is acute in parts of Punjab, India, where small landholders produce a major quantity of India’s food with declining groundwater resources. To further complicate this problem, other regions of the state are experiencing groundwater logging and salinization, and are reliant on canal systems for fresh water delivery. Due to the lack of water use records, groundwater consumption for this study is estimated with available data on crop yields, climate, and total canal water delivery. The hydrologic and agricultural systems are modeled using appropriate numerical methods and software.  This is a state-wide hydrologic numerical model of Punjab that accounts for multiple aquifer layers, agricultural water demands, and interactions between the surface canal system and groundwater. To more accurately represent the drivers of agricultural production and therefore water use, we couple an economic crop optimization model with the hydrologic model. These tools will be used to assess and optimize crop choice scenarios based on farmer income, food production, and hydrologic system constraints. The results of these combined models can be used to further understand the hydrologic system response to government crop procurement policies and climate change, and to assess the effectiveness of possible water conservation solutions. Click here to view the project page.


Modeling the Food Web of the ecosystem in the Western Desert of Australia: (Summer 2016 – Fall 2016)

I helped to build a model of the food web for Australia’s Western Desert ecosystem as part of the Dr. Rebecca and Doug Bird’s work in the Human Environmental Dynamics lab at Penn State. I created a database of all of the important characteristics of plants and animals within this ecosystem. This database is being used to model the interconnections between species in a food web and investigate the role of the aboriginal people in maintaining the biodiversity on this landscape.


Course-based Research on the Water Quality of Spring Creek: (Spring 2016)

I completed a water quality analysis of Spring Creek as part of a geochemistry class. We analyzed the water samples in lab and compared results with the past 12 years of data from this class and data from the Department of Environmental Protection, and local water monitoring groups. We used our results to examine how the geology effects the water chemistry and how a road cut into pyrite seams has effected water quality over time.