Edited by Cassie Sevigny
The Connections between Water and Rural Production project (CAP) investigates whether and which farmers adapt their production systems when they experience changes in rainfall, what adaptations they make, and whether these adaptations reduce income losses expected when drying occurs. Improved understanding of these responses will inform efforts by government agencies and civil society to help farmers adjust to changes in water availability. This profile is based on an interview with student researcher Ye Mu at San Diego State University.
Why and how did you become involved in this project?
I became involved in this project during my first semester of my Masters. I was interested in the interactions between deforestation and rainfall in the Amazon, and then my advisor Trent Biggs introduced me to the Connections Between Water and Rural Production team.
What is your favorite part of being involved in research?
I like to solve problems and I like the moment the problem is solved. For example, when I understood a very interesting article and used a simple physical image to summarize a complex academic paper in my mind; or when I came up with an idea, verified it by theoretical derivation and numerical simulation, and recorded it in the notebook as the next research topic.
What has been the biggest challenge of performing research?
One of the challenges of doing scientific research is the difficulty to obtain research funding. The second difficulty in research is that being innovative is hard. When thinking about a problem, people will come up with thousands of ways to solve it, and many of them need to be verified by experiments, and most of them are incorrect, so the failure rate is extremely high.
What’s one thing you’ve learned while participating in this project?
I have learned that establishing a high-yield, mature, and formal partnership between individuals or research institutions is important for successful research collaborations. A clearly defined and agreed division of work can make the execution of cooperative projects smoother and increase the probability of success.
Why do you think this project is important?
This project is important for understanding the interactions between humans, land, and hydroclimate in a key agriculture region in the Amazon. It also increases the collaboration and diversity in research by involving professors, researchers, students from US and Brazilian institutions.