Our lab is led by C.D. Guzman, Assistant Professor (UMass), and focuses on the intersections between soil, water, and communities. This research involves investigations on sediment transport, food systems and poverty reduction, mountainous hydrology, soil nutrient and water use efficiency, and erosion risk assessments.
These interests have developed over the course of several research stints with various collaborative partners. Our work depends tremendously on the work of predecessors, colleagues, mentors, and community assistants in this research in understudied regions with rural and urban communities.
Scientists, farmers, practitioners, and policymakers all rely on useful available information to make their hypotheses and decisions. We aim to increase the useful information available regarding soil and water resources, and seek to question the hypotheses previously made and possible to make in understudied regions.
Research in the Ethiopian Highlands has steadily increased in the recent decades. Local, national and international interest in the hydrological and geomorphological processes of the highlands has developed into several research projects conducted at different scales. Bahir Dar University (Bahir Dar, Amhara, Ethiopia), in coordination with Cornell University, has in recent years advanced and promoted integrated watershed research in (sub) humid agricultural highland watersheds, including at the Debre Mawi watershed. Sediment transport processes (via sheet erosion, rill-formation, and gully progression processes) have underlying influences based on the saturation-excess runoff mechanism that emerges from the local topographical, geological, edaphic, and climatic conditions. Knowledge gaps in these realms, affecting livelihoods and environmental quality, can only be addressed by increasing coordination between local community, university, and institutional networks.
Soil erosion research in Debre Mawi has been facilitated by Professor Tammo Steenhius, Cornell University, and Professor Seifu A. Tilahun, Bahir Dar University, with funding from the Cornell University NSF Food Systems and Poverty Reduction IGERT as well USAID. Bahir Dar University undergraduate students and community research assistants are integral members of the research team that conduct field research and interviews in these settings.
Gully research in the Anjeni, Debre Mawi, and Birr watersheds show the magnitude of erosion processes in the highlands (credit: Professor Seifu A. Tilahun, Bahir Dar University, with funding from USAID PEER Science)
LATIN AMERICAN HIGHLANDS
Research in the Latin American Highlands has significant ramifications for the quality and quantity of water reaching downstream communities. The cloud forests and highland regions of Honduras, Central America are experiencing changes in land use from forested landscapes to agroforestry plantations and cash crops with implications for the water balance.
Sediment transport processes (via sheet erosion, rill-formation, and gully progression processes) and soil nutrient gradients have received little attention in the Valle Del Cauca of the Colombian Andes. The El Niño-Southern Oscillation and variable climate patterns are presenting challenges to securing reliable water supply throughout the year. Partnerships between local water user associations, private sector research, international research centers, and NGO's are advancing closer coordination between upstream conservation activities and downstream benefits.