New Team Member Spotlight: Alisha Guglielmi
Alisha is a PhD student in the Jones Ecohydrology Lab. She received a bachelor’s degree in geological science with a minor in GIS from Salem State University in 2020, and a master’s degree in geoscience with a concentration in water science from Georgia State University in 2023. She is interested in examining the use of hydrologic and remote sensing data to better understand water resources. Her current thesis work involves the development methods to more accurately map and predict private well water contamination in North Carolina. In her free time, she can be found collecting rocks, watching horror movies, and listening to true crime podcasts.
What research are you currently working on?
My research at UA utilizes remote sensing and hydrologic data to make spatial predictions about floods, focusing on private drinking water wells. I’m presently in the early stages of developing a methodology to determine whether knowing well location improves the accuracy of contamination prediction from flooding.
What are you looking forward to most about conducting your research?
I’m excited to collaborate with the engineering folks at Northeastern University and the Department of Health and Human Services people in North Carolina. My background is predominantly in geoscience and hydrology, so I’m eager to learn how our private well research can be evaluated from multiple angles across various disciplines.
What research have you worked on previously?
I am currently working on improving the analysis procedures I used in my master’s thesis to develop habitat suitability indices for urban beavers in the Southeast U.S. using hydrologic data and remote sensing methods. Once this analysis is complete, my goal is to work with my master’s advisor to progress my thesis toward a publishable article!
Why did you decide to join the Jones lab?
The Jones Ecohydrology Lab offers the resources I need to develop and execute actionable science, where I can work alongside experts in several subjects. I believe that the future of good science lies collaboration and exchange of information between disciplines, and the Jones Lab (as well as the entire Biology Department at UA) not only allows for but encourages that interdisciplinary collaboration. From a more personal standpoint, the members of our lab group are driven, adaptive, and adept in research and leadership – all qualities I greatly admire.
What are your overall career goals?
Right now, I’m relatively undecided. I’m leaning towards trying to secure government employment after graduation, or perhaps applying for an AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellowship. My dream job: I have always wanted to work for NASA, and I would love my career to combine my love for hydrology and remote sensing.
What advice do you have for anyone interested in graduate school and/or a degree in STEM?
I wish someone told me earlier on that to be a successful graduate student, being “smart” isn’t as important as being resilient. I think elementary, high school, and undergraduate programs teach us to measure our success by the grades we receive, but I found that my success in grad school is more accurately measured by my grace in approaching obstacles and my willingness to problem solve.
If you could vacation anywhere, where would it be?
My ideal vacation entails relaxing on the beach, so I’d choose the Caribbean island of Antigua. There are 365 public beaches: one for every day of the year!
If you were a tree, what kind would you be and why?
I would be a weeping willow tree. To me, they perfectly encompass what it means to be bold, unapologetic, and protective, while also demonstrating tremendous flexibility and adaptability.
What animal would you compare yourself to and why?
I have always said that my spirit animal is a moth, and people are always like, “Why wouldn’t you choose a butterfly?” Like butterflies, moths represent transformation and rebirth through perseverance, and strength through delicacy. Unlike butterflies, though, moths are nocturnal, meaning they’re perpetually seeking light, similar to my optimistic outlook through adversity.
If you had to watch one movie on repeat, what would it be?