Illinois Natural History Survey (INHS) graduate student Rohini Vembar grew up surrounded by science! Her parents—both in engineering fields—always encouraged her to be curious and ask questions.
Even as an elementary school student, Rohini knew she wanted to go into some STEM field. During her junior year of high school, Rohini’s love of science drove her to sign up for an AP environmental science class.
“This class was one of the first ones where I was completely fascinated the entire time and although it wasn’t the most difficult class I had taken, I enjoyed the nuanced discussions we had and how they challenged me in a way different from memorizing equations and diagrams,” she said.
Inspired by her experience in the class, Rohini went on to earn a bachelor’s degree from the Ohio State University.
“As I committed to an environmental science major, and later an ecosystem restoration specialization, I continued to have those conversations and was able to delve deeper into the science of ecology and how it intersects with the social environment,” Rohini explained.
Now Rohini is a master’s student in the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (UIUC).
“I have truly enjoyed my time so far at INHS and UIUC and have especially appreciated the network of academics and professionals that I have been able to get to know in the few short months I have been here,” she said.
Rohini is particularly excited about her graduate research, which focuses on developing rapid assessment methods (RAMs) for wetland monitoring and categorization in Illinois and the Midwest region.
“RAMs are incredibly useful in assigning value to a wetland and will make the wetland delineation process much more efficient in Illinois,” said Rohini.
Rohini hopes that her research will have a lasting impact on wetland work in Illinois.
“My time previously in both public and private sectors has allowed me to become very familiar with RAMs in other states,” Rohini said. “These methods have been incredibly useful in wetland regulatory and management applications while streamlining field assessment for over 20 years now in some states; the development of a RAM in Illinois has the potential to do the same here for years to come.”