CEE Update Student Spotlight: Rohini Gupta

Rohini GuptaRohini Gupta is a Ph.D. student working in the Reed Research Group.

What is your area of research and why is it important?

Currently, my dissertation research is on reconstructing weather regimes in the Western U.S. In our work, we identify regional signals that dictate weather dynamics and then reconstruct those signals back in time using tree ring chronologies. This allows us to uncover weather dynamics back to the year 1400, which is important for us to be able to extend our understanding of natural variability in the weather system. The main goal with this work is to create weather scenarios that are informed by these reconstructions and then propagate them through water systems models developed for California to improve our understanding of how different stakeholders (reservoirs, farmers, irrigation districts, groundwater banks) will be affected by various weather scenarios and climate changes.

What inspired you to choose this field of study?

I grew up in a very rural area surrounded by forests and wildlife that has completely shaped my way of life including my field of study. From a very early age, I knew that I wanted to study environmental engineering and through a variety of research experiences in undergrad, I ended up in water resources. I really love this field because everyday I am pulling ideas and expertise from various fields: computer science, environmental engineering, systems engineering, atmospheric science, and policy. I am so happy to have ended up in a field where I can have an impact in understanding and addressing climate change.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Outside of research, I really enjoy music (both playing and listening). In Ithaca, I play guitar/mandolin/sing in an all Ph.D. folk/bluegrass band called Nobody et al. with my fellow lab member Dave Gold and our friend Geoff Pleiss. While I have been working from home during the pandemic, my dad, sister and I have formed our own folk trio and usually put out a new cover every week. Lately, we’ve been doing a lot of Bob Dylan and the Grateful Dead. We grew up listening to a lot of this music and it has been so fun to actually play these songs and share our renditions with friends and family. In Ithaca, I also play soccer and teach a computing class at the Women’s Opportunity Center.

Why did you choose Cornell to pursue your degree?

Cornell has such a great CEE program and the research opportunities offered by my advisor aligned exactly with my interests. I have really enjoyed the wide variety of classes offered here and have met some wonderful professors. I also love Ithaca and there are so many amazing opportunities to get involved in volunteer work and other fun activities outside of school.

Tell us a fun fact about yourself.

During the pandemic, I started making earrings as a fun post-work activity. I started an Etsy shop where all the proceeds go to the Women's Center in my hometown. I was completely sold out and raised over $600 in a few days. This was a great way to both pursue a new creative outlet for me and also to support an organization that has been incredibly important for providing assistance and shelter to women, men, and children. Definitely look for ways you can safely help out local organizations during this pandemic!