- Course: PhD in Ecology and Global Change
- PhD title: Sensitivity of tropical forests to heatwaves
- Nationality: Indian
- Job title: PhD Researcher
- Company: University of Leeds
What course are you studying?
I am in the third and final year of my PhD. I am studying the responses of tropical Amazon forest trees to extreme temperatures from the hottest site of the Brazilian Amazon. I integrate leaf level photosynthetic and traits measurements with canopy thermography to understand the strategies of tropical tree species to extreme temperatures. More about my PhD here: https://environment.leeds.ac.uk/geography/pgr/2033/rakesh-tiwari
Why did you decide to study a PhD/Masters at the University of Leeds?
For two reasons. Firstly, Geography houses some of the best cutting edge research in tropical forest functioning and for me it was intuitive to apply here. Second, the award of Leeds International Research scholarship enabled me to pursue a PhD which I couldn’t afford otherwise.
What has been the best aspect of studying on your course and at the University so far and why?
All my supervisors are supportive of new ideas and have a very wide network of institutions and scientists. This enables me to add several dimensions to my PhD project and essentially enable me to take up measurements and research questions that I wouldn’t be able to do otherwise. The support system in the school for example, ecology and global change cluster, the lab staff, collaborative links across continents enabled me to integrate and bring in many aspects of the cutting edge science into my PhD project. My PhD program has a co-supervisor from Faculty of biological science. I integrate plant physiological knowledge at the leaf level to understand how tropical forest trees respond to extreme temperatures. Such integration across scales and disciplines helped me and I benefited heavily from both Geography and Biological science support.
Tell us about some of the exciting projects you have completed.
My PhD involves two aspects, canopy thermography and leaf level photosynthetic responses. I did a 2.5 month long one off field campaign during the hottest part of the year (October-November 2017) measuring photosynthetic temperature response curves on major canopy tree species. This site called Nova Xavantina is the hottest site in Brazilian amazon and is rapidly warming. The site represents the temperature conditions that the rest of the Amazon forest is likely to experience with global warming. This not only was my first visit to Amazon, but was one of the most rigorous and challenging field campaign of my career yet. I also remotely manage the canopy thermography tower in this site capturing thermal images of the canopy round the clock.
What does Leeds as a city have to offer students?
Leeds is a student friendly city. The university is located close to city and yet the city has its natural beauty and character well preserved. A very strong point I would say is it is a safe city. I go back to my house late in the night and I am absolutely comfortable. The people are friendly and open.
What are your ambitions for the future?
I would like to continue working with this research group in the future and extend my work in both Amazon and India. My stay at Leeds has not only prepared and trained me technically, it has also provided a huge networking opportunity.
What experiences at Leeds do you think will help you in your future career?
Collaborative and open environment. Supportive people, technical skills and beautiful work culture.
What would you say to students coming to do the same course?
The school and the team is absolutely fabulous and are the best team I have worked with given my decade long stint working across institutes and sectors before I started my PhD. It truly is one of the best in the world and is a very supporting environment.