Alessandra Zuniga

Cohort Level: Cohort - IV

Career Goal: My ultimate career goal once I graduate from this program is to pursue an academic/research position at a 4-year institution.

Expected Graduation Date: May 10, 2024

Degree: PhD Ecology

Research Title: The title of my first research project is "The Interactive Effects of Elevated CO2 Concentrations and Drought on Grapevine (Vitis vinifera L.) Physiology and Water Use Efficiency"

Research Synopsis: Rising atmospheric CO2 concentrations projected for the next century will likely be accompanied by other environmental changes, including higher temperatures and more frequent drought events. Water deficits are anticipated to heavily impact agricultural food production, particularly in regions already characterized by warm and dry climates. Water use efficiency is a measure that can be used to determine precise moisture requirements of crops under future climates. Therefore, the objective of my first research project was to investigate the interactive effects of elevated levels of CO2 and drought on grapevine water use efficiency. This was done by growing two grapevine varieties in a growth chamber under high CO2 concentrations and gradually inducing a drought treatment. Leaf level responses were collected to calculate the estimated water use efficiency of these two varieties.