IALC Peace Fellowship Report 17 July - 18 August 1996

Lisandra C. Mioni 
Undergraduate Student

College of Agriculture

The University of Arizona

Measurement Analysis of Sap Flow Measurements to Estimate Transpiration 
of Oak Species, FRuit Trees, and Herbaceous Plants

The International Arid Lands Consortium (IALC) has funded important research and outreach programs to provide solutions to the world-wide problems of desertification and socioeconomic effects in the world's arid and semi-arid regions.

In 1996, the IALC established a Peace Fellowship Program. The IALC Peace Fellowship Program has many goals, but the main focus is to link undergraduate students of member IALC institutions with world-renowned scholars and scientists conducting IALC-funded research and outreach in Israel and the United States. The hope is to establish a student-to-scholar/scientist approach to help build a productive future and provide a people-to-people impact, contributing to an overall bettering of environment, both natural and political. I have the privilege to be the first student to be awarded an IALC Peace Fellowship. I lived and worked in Israel for 31 days from July 17 through August 18, 1996.

One of the program's requirements was to have sponsors both in the U.S. and Israel. My U.S. sponsors were Drs. Peter Ffolliott and Gerald Gottfried of The University of Arizona, who are both involved with research funded by the IALC. They contacted their collaborators in Israel, Drs. Yehezkel Cohen and Gabriel Schiller, who agreed to act as my Israeli sponsors. Drs. Cohen and Schiller work at the Volcani Center, Institute of Soils and Water, Agricultural Research Organization in Bet Dagan, Israel. I was able to work closely with both of them, not only at the Volcani Center, but at other sites where research and data collection were taking place.

I went to Israel to work on research related to estimating transpiration rates of desert oak tree species to measuring sap flow measurements with the heat-pulse method. I learned of the heat-pulse method while working closely with Dr. Cohen and his assistants. This method uses a heat-pulse tool to estimate the water being translocated in the sap or phloem of a plant species to estimate how much water is being used and transpired. From this information, an estimate of how much water is being used by the plants can be made. I traveled to a northern town in Israel where I was able to work and collect data on desert oak trees. The desert oak trees are similar to a stand of oak trees in southern Arizona where the same technique using the heat-pulse method will be applied. I was able to work with corn and also mesquite trees to become more familiar with the heat-pulse method. I then learned how to collect different types of data and how to interpret and show results. I also learned how to use many data-collection instruments and computer programs to assist in interpreting the data. While working with Dr. Cohen, I met many people who worked at the Volcani Center. I made friends with people from China, Chile, and Uruguay, and I had the opportunity to speak Spanish with some of my new friends from South America. Working on research in another country was a whole new experience for me. My experience in Israel has now made me very excited about the possibilities of working in an international setting and on research in the future.

While in Israel I was able to see the reforestation program being implemented by the Jewish National Fund. It was very apparent that this has had an amazing effect on the country. Some areas that may have appeared as deserts in the past are now green, shady oases.

One of the highlights of my trip was to be able to visit Jordan. I had met Dr. Mohammed Shahbaz, Director, The Higher Council for Science & Technology, Jordan Badia Research and Development Programme, when he visited the Office of Arid Lands Studies at The University of Arizona during the spring of 1996. Dr. Shahbaz extended an invitation to me to visit the Badia Research Facility when I was in Israel, so I accepted the invitation. I was able to travel to the far eastern desert region of Jordan and met scientists working there. Among those scientists was a young woman with whom I found a lot in common. We have since become friends and in the future may work collectively.

My lodging was at the Faculty of Agriculture, at the Hebrew University in Rehovot. The accommodations were very nice, and I was able to meet and make friends with many students and scientists from all over the world, who were also staying on campus. Some of my new friends are from such countries as Turkey, Mozambique, the Netherlands, and South Africa. I found the city of Rehovot to be very beautiful and tranquil, and I really enjoyed feeling secure enough to take walks downtown after dark.

My Israeli sponsors were very hospitable. Dr. Cohen invited me to his home and I spent the day with him and his family. We listened to music, watched TV, went swimming, and of course ate. I also had the opportunity to have dinner with a few scientists and their families. I learned a lot about Israeli customs and traditions and found that there are many things that we have in common.

I met and worked with scientists and professors from all over the world, and I learned from each encounter. I also had the opportunity to travel and do some sight-seeing on my own. I visited Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Bethlehem, the Dead Sea, Masada, the Sea of Galilee, Eilat, Petra, and both the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea.

Some of my goals while in Israel were to learn how to collect and interpret data, work independently, learn to work and live in an environment different than my own, and return to the U.S. to share my experiences with others, especially future Peace Fellowship students. I was able to fulfill all of these goals and many more. I plan on graduating in Plant Science from The University of Arizona in the next year and go on to serve in the U.S. Peace Corps, and ultimately work for an international food agency. One of the main things that I got from my Peace Fellowship experience is that I now know that my opportunities in the future are limitless. The wonderful experience of being a Peace Fellow for the IALC has better prepared me for my future goals and work ahead. I have learned how to work in an international setting with scientists from around the world, how to collect and interpret data, work with instruments and tools that I was previously unfamiliar with, and have become very aware of the great importance of working collectively on solutions for global problems. Because of this amazing opportunity the International Arid Lands Consortium has provided for me, I know that I can now better serve in the Peace Corps and look forward to all of my future endeavors.