Ph.D. in Applied Earth Sciences
Why did you choose graduate school at IUPUI?
I applied to IUPUI to specifically work with my advisor, Dr. Broxton Bird, on paleoclimate questions. I was excited to work in a department that supports its students on both local and international research and academic opportunities. It is nice that even though IUPUI is a large campus, the departments themselves are much smaller which provides students with a close-knit academic family.
What has been your favorite academic accomplishment since you’ve been here?
The best thing about my graduate school experience has been my field work experience. In the summer of 2015, my advisor and I flew to eastern Tibet and spent a month collecting samples for my dissertation. It was an amazing opportunity to experience a new culture and learn more about the region.
What do you enjoy most about life in Indianapolis?
I enjoy the laid back city lifestyle. Indy has a diverse offering of neighborhoods, cultural experiences, restaurants, shopping, and recreation opportunities. The low cost of living means that as a student, I am able to enjoy more of the city culture on a student stipend.
Please provide some details about your work/research as a graduate student and/or any activities you are involved in.
My dissertation is on tracking how the Indian summer monsoon (ISM) has changed throughout the past 10,000 years. The ISM is the dominant source of precipitation to southeastern Asia, a region that has a growing human population and subsequent water demands, with many communities still dependent on subsistence agriculture. Variability of the ISM has been increasing in recent decades in connection to changing climate, but scientists need better understanding of how this system varies naturally to detect future changes and make better predictions. I use lake sediments from eastern Tibet to study how the monsoon changes over time; focusing on several proxies, including sediment characteristics and algal fragments, that infer changes in precipitation and lake levels. My goal is to produce several long-term records of multiple indicators of monsoon intensity that can be used by other scientists to improve their models that predict how this system will change in the future.
Melanie is also a recipient of the IUPUI Travel Fellowship award. Read more about her Travel Fellowship here »