Graduate STEM Fellow Profile

Rhonda Hoenigman

Project Title: Project eCSite
Thesis: Designing Water-Efficient Residential Landscapes Using Agent-based Optimization
College/University: University of Colorado Boulder
Research Advisor: Elizabeth Bradley
Degree Sought: Ph.D., Computer Science
Department: Computer Science
Research Focus: Agent-based modeling, optimization, ecology
Teaching Partner(s): Sandra O'Donovan

Description of Research

My research is about developing automated methods for optimizing arrangements of plants on a landscape to reduce water use. The idea is that for a landscape and collection of plants, there is some arrangement that provides the growing conditions that each plant needs and also uses the least amount of water. We can search for these arrangements using algorithms designed for spatial optimization problems.

Example of how my research is integrated into my GK-12 experience

I am in a life science class, and part of my research involves modeling how plants perform under different light and water conditions. We recently completed an experiment in the classroom where student grew plants and measured the water use over time to see that the water use increased as the plant grew. Part of my research also involves monitoring soil moisture and temperature conditions using sensors. This year, students will do a similar experiment using electronic sensors and data loggers to monitor soil conditions.