EEB doctoral student Susan Cheng was awarded $5,000 from theMichigan Space Grant Consortium for summer research at the U-M Biological Station.

Cheng’s project investigates how cloud conditions interact with changing forest canopy structure to control rates of photosynthesis and forest carbon dioxide (CO2) uptake.   

“I am using NASA satellite data with data from ecosystem-level monitoring networks to examine how clouds affect forest surface energy, light conditions, and carbon uptake,” she said. “I'll also be measuring light, leaf temperature, and species-specific photosynthesis responses with a Research for Undergraduate (REU) student.  I'll then use those data in a model to test how clouds and forest canopy structure influence the strength of atmospheric CO2 removal through changes in leaf temperature and leaf-available light.

“Ultimately, this will tell us how environmental and biological variables interact to control rates of ecosystem CO2 uptake, and can be used to inform how we manage forests to meet future climate-related challenges.” The REU student is Jean Wilkening from the University of Arizona, majoring in chemical engineering. Cheng's advisor is Professor Knute Nadelhoffer, director of the UMBS.

The MSGC gives preference to students pursuing projects directly related to NASA strategic interests, including aerospace, space science, earth system science, and other related science, engineering or mathematics fields. The consortium fosters awareness of, education in, and research on space-related science and technology in Michigan.