My name is Rey Becerra and I am an undergraduate civil engineering student at San Diego State University. I joined the Disturbance Hydrology Lab (DHL) during the spring semester, 2019. My research focuses on examining the post-fire sediment response in a riparian watershed with dense invasive plant species to better understand soil dynamics during the 2018-2019 storm season by developing a regression model to estimate soil erosion in relation to sediment physical characteristics after the storm events.
This research opportunity has allowed me to develop and apply new skills in different settings. Specific field tasks such as soil sample collection and surveying were existing skills I applied constantly and used effectively to obtain critical data for the understanding of soil dynamics. Lab skills I learned included performing methods to identify soil samples' physical characteristics and helped me to better understand topics discussed in my major This research project challenged my ability to communicate my data analysis in an academic research setting. However, by conducting presentations at several conferences and reporting my findings through a research report this experience offered me multiple opportunities to improve my communication skills. Additionally, this internship has given me a sense of belonging in the research team which I believe is important for any undergraduate student. Therefore, my involvement in the Disturbance Hydrology Lab has been beneficial for my academic growth inside and outside of class and it has granted me future prospects including pursuing a master’s degree in civil engineering with the objective to increase my career path opportunities in water resources engineering. The multiple field expeditions were my favorite experiences while being part of the Disturbance Hydrology Lab because they represented a challenge to a problem and as an undergraduate civil engineer it’s empirical to realize that applied sciences require creativity and critical thinking to approach the problem.
The research experience offered by the Disturbance Hydrology Lab is fundamental for STEM related majors seeking research opportunities to advance their understanding in water resources and hydrology. The DHL’s motivation to better understand hydrologic disturbances is significant for the developing urban communities and the experiences and opportunities offered to undergraduate students can be academically rewarding.