National Science Foundation funding will support water distribution, pollution composition research
CLEVELAND (July 25, 2022)— John Van Stan II, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Biological, Geological and Environmental Sciences (BGES), has been awarded a five-year, $2,242,820 award from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to study how rainfall is absorbed and diverted by various plant life, while tracking the organisms, nutrients, and pollutants contained in that rain.
Dr. Van Stan is Principal Investigator (PI) for the NSF-funded project. Team collaborators include Alexandra Ponette-González, Ph.D. from University of North Texas; Janice Brahney, Ph.D. from Utah State University, and Ethan Gutmann, Ph.D. from the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR).
Together, they will study at 12 locations across North America—with particular interest in tracking how nutrient and pollutant particles are both transported and deposited through precipitation.
“Every time it rains, it’s essentially ‘rush hour’ in a tree,” said Dr. Van Stan. “Millions of tiny particles hitch a ride in the water droplets that flow like liquid ribbons down tree trunks and drip from leaves. Human eyes may not see this traffic, but the water contains a large, diverse community of organisms, bacteria and non-living particles like dust, soot and radioactive material riding these flows.”
“We know that the amount of rain trapped by tree canopies affects how much water reaches the surface, but this process is not well understood,” said Meredith Bond, Ph.D., interim vice president for Research and Innovation, and interim dean of the College of Graduate Studies.
“Dr. Van Stan’s work investigates this process, helping us predict how changing forests impact water distribution and uncover new dynamics of atmospheric pollution in a highly effective way as well.”
Dr. Van Stan’s ongoing research is anchored in field-based investigation of biogeochemistry, plant/soil ecology, water quality, sustainability, environmental impact assessments, climate change and microbiology.
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