New Team Member Spotlight: Ashleigh Kirker
Ashleigh is a postdoctoral scientist using hydrologic modeling and storm sampling to understand connectivity in flooded wetlands and steams. She received her Ph.D. in Geosciences from Temple University where she focused on the spatial variability of runoff pathways in urban catchments. She is especially excited about the integration of field work with distributed surface-subsurface models.
What research are you currently working on?
I’m working on a model (with the Advanced Terrestrial Simulator – ATS) of the Shambley Creek watershed in West Alabama to investigate water use in various landscape units under different forest conditions. Plus, we’re gearing up to take flood samples at the Tanglewood Biological Station wetlands.
What are you looking forward to most about conducting your research?
I’m obsessed with the idea that the origins/connectivity of flow at a subcatchment scale matter to the function of a watershed, and I’m excited to get to mix field work with modeling to try to figure out the how.
What research have you worked on previously?
For my Ph.D., I worked in urban and suburban watersheds and focused mostly on stormwater runoff. Specifically, I did a lot of overland flow sampling during storms, and I used a model (GSSHA) and nitrate isotopes to better understand where stormwater in our streams and green infrastructure comes from at different points in a storm.
Why did you decide to join the Jones lab?
First, I got to visit Tanglewood, and I absolutely loved it (you can see the groundwater and surface water mixing!) Second, I was excited to work in a big collaborative group, and the Jones lab hit the right balance of silliness and hydrology-obsession.
What are your overall career goals?
I want to keep doing research that gets published, so I’m looking for positions in universities or the federal government.
What advice do you have for anyone interested in graduate school and/or a degree in STEM?
Finding a mentor and a team of colleagues who you ‘click’ with and are doing work you get giddy about is so important. I’m the type of person who sometimes overcomplicates things but trusting my gut on where/who I work with has served me well.
Name 3-5 artists or bands that you’re really into right now.
Dessa, Miley Cyrus, and Ben Folds – but to get writing done I need to listen to Broadway Cast Recordings.
If you could vacation anywhere, where would it be?
I recently added hiking in the Chilean Patagonia to my bucket list!
If you were a tree, what kind would you be and why?
I hope I’d be a mangrove, because I love the smell of a salt marsh and with any luck, I’ll thrive despite the rising sea levels.
If you had to watch one movie on repeat, what would it be?
What We Do in the Shadows – thank goodness for slightly goth mockumentaries,