Haley Moser collects data as the sun sets over San Cristobal Island. (photo courtesy of Haley Moser)
After visiting the Galápagos Islands for a research project over winter break, senior Haley Moser hopes to pursue a career in community-centered research after graduating from Carolina this May.
Water sloshes rhythmically as I make my way across a farm on San Cristóbal Island in the Galápagos. As I begin my trek up a steep hill, the weight of the five-gallon water bag I’m carrying begins to wear on me. This is my second trip grabbing water today, and I’m tired.
“¡Tomas más que las vacas!” shouts a nearby farmer. It translates to, “You drink more than the cows!”
Although I wasn’t really in the mood for jokes, I couldn’t help but smile and laugh along with him. Geovanny Sarigu, the farm’s manager, works under environmental stressors like high temperatures and water shortages regularly. And he knows these things will only get worse over time. But every time I see him, he wears a big smile that infects everyone around him.
Galapágos farmers take such pride in their jobs as producers — and I really enjoyed working alongside them to collect data for a research project led by Angélica Gómez, a PhD student in the UNC Department of Geography. Over winter break, Angélica and I traveled to the islands to study how land cover changes from human impacts like development, tree removal, and soil cultivation are altering the water cycle.
During the trip, Angélica took vegetation and soil measurements and launched a few sensors to collect and store air pressure and water temperature data. This involved hiking through dense and remote forests, scaling rocks, and avoiding these thick, invasive blackberry brambles.
Angélica would joke about how she wouldn’t have to work out that night because of all the …