Diego Riveros-Iregui, Assistant Professor of Geography: Collaborative Research with Universidad de San Francisco Quito

Applicant Information

  • Name: Diego Riveros-Iregui
  • Title: Assistant Professor
  • Department/School: Department of Geography
  • Email: diegori@unc.edu


Partner and Participant Information

  • Partner Institution(s) and Location: Universidad de San Francisco, Quito (Quito, Ecuador)
  • Partner School/Department: Colegio de Ciencias Biologicas y Ambientales
  • Participating UNC Schools/Departments: Department of Geography and Center for Galapagos Studies


Project Information

Please describe the initiative to be conducted:

I met Dr. Andrea Encalada in her recent visit to Chapel Hill in September, 2017. We discussed our research interests and I’m seeking funding to visit Dr. Encalada’s field sites near Quito, Ecuador. Specifically, we are interested to develop a collaborative research proposal for the National Science Foundation in which we will study water dynamics in the high-elevation mountains of Ecuador. Dr. Encalada leads a prolific research group at USFQ, and among their many projects they focus on high-elevation grasslands. I propose to travel to Quito and visit some of the research sites that Dr. Encalada has been monitoring over the last few years. In addition, I have already offered Dr. Encalada that I can give two scientific lectures to her research group or her department on areas of my expertise. Our goal is to propose a new collaborative project in which both universities will work together to collect field observations using new sensor technologies and applying novel quantitative analysis.

Proposed Dates/Timeline:

One week in February, 2018.

 Please state the requested funding amount and how the award would be spent:

Airfare $1200
Hotel $700
Per diem $300
Ground transportation $500
Materials and supplies $300

Please list other funding sources identified or received:


Please describe the expected outcomes:

I propose to submit a large collaborative proposal to the National Science Foundation in the spring of 2018. This proposal will include USFQ as an international collaborator.

In addition, we will also submit the following manuscripts, currently in preparation:
1) Riveros-Iregui, D.A., Covino, T.P., Gonzalez-Pinzon, R.A., and Encalada, A. (in preparation) The Importance of and Need for Rapid Assessments in Latin American Hydrological Research. Target Journal: Hydrological Processes.
2) Schmitt, S.R., Riveros-Iregui, D.A., and Hu, J. (in preparation) The role of fog, orography and seasonality on precipitation in a semi-arid, tropical region

 Please describe how the initiative will advance the institutional partnership:

The proposed initiative is intended to build a new collaboration with Dr. Encalada. I currently lead an NSF-funded project looking at water quality in coastal environments. Dr. Encalada was a recent co-investigator on an NSF-funded project looking at the response of tropical stream to changes in environmental conditions. Since 2012, her lab maintains and monitors research streams in high-elevation mountains near Quito. I seek to bring my expertise on ecohydrology and field experience measuring and monitoring water quantity and quality in the Andes, to develop an inter-institutional project focused on water resources in the humid tropics. I anticipate that, if successful, this collaborative project will provide multiple training opportunities to new graduate and undergraduate students, who could gain interdisciplinary expertise in solving problems in the environmental and hydrologic sciences and problems at the intersection of geomorphology, hydrology, and climate. In addition, data and knowledge generated in this project could be integrated into a field course on Tropical Ecohydrology to be taught in Ecuador (thus far I have already taught two field courses in Ecuador), and regular courses on Watershed Systems, Earth Surface Processes, and Physical Geography, which I teach at UNC. My ultimate goal is to balance my own expertise and interests with UNC’s global priorities, laying out a plan to integrate research and education.

 Please describe your previous engagement with the partner institution:

I have been collaborating with Ecuadorian scientists since 2014, when I visited USFQ and the Galapagos Islands for the first time. This collaboration has already proven successful. Results from this collaboration include:

  1. Hamel, P., Riveros-Iregui, D.A., Ballari, D., Browning, T., Célleri, R., Chandler, D., Chun, K., Destouni, G., Jacobs, S., Jasechko, S., Johnson, M., Krishnaswamy, J., Poca, M., Pompeu, P., and Rocha, H. (2017) Watershed Services in the Humid Tropics: Opportunities from Recent Advances in Ecohydrology. Ecohydrology (in press). doi: 10.1002/eco.19212.
  2. *Percy, M.S., *Schmitt, S.R., Riveros-Iregui, D.A., and Mirus, B.B. (2016) The Galápagos Archipelago: A Natural Laboratory to Examine Sharp Hydroclimatic, Geologic and Anthropogenic Gradients. WIREs Water 3: 587-600. doi:10.1002/wat2.1145 *denotes UNC students
  3. Hu, J., and Riveros-Iregui, D.A., (2016) Life in the clouds: Are tropical montane cloud forests responding to changes in climate? Oecologia 180:1061-1073. doi:10.1007/s00442-015-3533-x

In addition, I served in the Planning Committee of the recent Chapman Conference on Tropical Ecohydrology, American Geophysical Union (June, 2016), in Cuenca, Ecuador. Approximately 200 people, including USFQ scientists, attended this conference on hydrology in the tropics.