Caylor awarded $1.5 million from NSF to study water in Africa
Kelly Caylor, an assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering, has been awarded a Faculty Early Career Development award from the National Science Foundation.
He will receive $1.5 million in research funding over 5 years to use laser sensors to study how vegetation transports water from the soil into the atmosphere in a semi-arid region of Kenya. The research is intended to help farmers and herders who live in the region to develop sustainable land management practices. “Water is a scarce resource in this part of Africa,” said Caylor. “It’s important that we understand the hydrology so people can keep using these landscapes.”
The lasers sensors will allow the researchers to determine how much water in the air evaporates directly from the soil and how much evaporates from the leaves of plants. “We plan to set up an observatory that can track this for years,” he said. “This allows us to use new technologies to study the how the ecology – the role of plants specifically – relates to the hydrology, the movement of water.”
The Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program offers the National Science Foundation's most prestigious awards in support of junior faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education and the integration of education and research, according to the program’s website.
Caylor received his doctorate in environmental sciences in 2003 from the University of Virginia and then took a two year postdoctoral research position with Ignacio Rodriguez-Iturbe, Princeton’s James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering. He served as an assistant professor at the Indiana University before joining the Princeton faculty in 2007.