PROJECTS - Alan D. Ziegler's lab

Our group is interested in a wide range of applied research addressing coupled physical and human systems in SE Asia.  Water is invariably the critical component in the puzzle -- although few members would consider themselves hydrologists.  Check out the ongoing projects in the wet lab.  Do you see a place for you?

Vulnerability to diarrheal illnesses in rural Thailand


Joon Chuah designed a study to understand the spatial and temporal variation of Cryptosporidium and Giardia, two very harmful pathogenic protozoa, in the drinking water resources of Northern Thailand. The study of the prevalence of Cryptosporidiumand Giardia in cattle and its association to farm management strategies revealed the various modes in which these pathogens can be transferred to the environment and ultimately, to drinking water resources.


Impacts of rubber expansion in SE Asia


drZ and researchers from the University of Hawaii (USA), Japan and Cambodia are investigating the environmental consequences of whole-sale land-cover converions to rubber in several countries of SE Asia. 

The Dilema of Mountain Roads

ADZ started working on roads impacts in 1995 in northern Thailand.  The work still continues, with various posse members including Roy Sidle and Spencer Wood.


The Demise in Swidden Agriculture in SE Asia


Across much of the tropical world, former traditional swidden systems are being replace with more intensive, cash-crop and plantations systems, many of which have greater environmental impacts.


River Sediment & Elemental Fluxes


drZ's long-term research on Ping River tributaries continues in the Mae Sa Experimental Catchment (MSEC) in northern Thailand. Studies of total suspended solids, bedload, carbon, and nitrogen have been conducted since 2004.  The site is also one of the basecamps for the NUS Geography Field Studies Program.   Other work has been conducted in the Pang Khum Experimental Watershed (PKEW) in Thailand, and the Longchuangjian River in Yunnan Province (China).


Ecosystem Facilitation


Given the hydrodynamic environment of marine ecosystems, mangroves forests, seagrass beds and coral reefs will always be connected via the seawater to neighboring ecosystems. This connection means that there can be an exchange of physical (hydrodynamic energy), chemical (sediment and nutrient) and biological (organisms) factors. As a consequence, changes in one specific ecosystem can have consequences on neighboring ecosystems both in close proximity or (via these connections) further away. In case adjacent ecosystems improve each other growing conditions, one could speak of large-scale facilitative or positive interactions. The research in this project aims at identifying the importance of local-scale facilitating and large-scale facilitation by ecosystem (especially nutrient) connections as critical factors needed for ecosystem-based designs, ecosystem conservation and re-establishment. This objective will be met by the combination of elaborating experimentally large-scale facilitative interactions via material (especially organic nutrients) fluxes andexperiments to access the role of local-scale facilitation in ecosystem resilience and (re-) establishment.  This project is the PhD work of Lucy Gwen Gillis.


Medical Hydrology/Ecology


drZCarl Grundy-Warr, several NUS students and several international friends investigate the complex human-physical dimensions of several medical hazards in SE Asia, including opisthorciasis, cryptosporidiasis, giardiasis, and melioidosis.

Drinking Water Quality


Joon Chuah has been cruising around Chiang Mai and Lamphun armed with buckets and bottles to collect water samples from various surface and sub-surface sources and then testing them for contaminants that may have adverse effects on human health. What is in the water? Where does it come from? How does it get there? What is the future of the dwindling and diminishing drinking water resources of the people of Northern Thailand? 


Rainfall and Landslide Triggers of 2013 Uttarakand Flood (India)


Alok Bhardwaj, Robert Wasson and ADZ are investigating the causes and consequences of the deadly flood on the Mandakani River in 2013.  Our research work in the Mandakini catchment of Uttarakhand, a state of India, addresses the increasing vulnerability of the region to the natural hazards of landslides and large floods. Such hazards are induced by the high intensity rainfall periods in the North West Himalaya during the monsoon season. Specifically, we are focusing on the natural calamity that happened in June 2013. This event caused unprecedented deaths and enormous loss to property. This was a jerk to the flourishing economy of the region by adversely affecting the tourism industry, anthropogenic activities and the huge public and private investment to harness the natural resources. 



Such is the nature of this land, a dichotomy of reverence and ceaseless nature’s fury. Welcome to the ‘Abode of Gods’.

Nee Soon Freshwater Swamp Project


One of the most important conservation sites in Singapore, the Nee Soon project is working towards establishing an eco-hydrological baseline to conserve this catchment. This project by NParks in collaboration with the Tropical Marine Science Institute (TMSI) aims to integrate various geography, vegetation, faunal and modelling teams to research the status of this 750ha wetland area for stream management and conservation. The Field Hydrology and Geomorphology team under Dr. Z and Bob Wasson attempts to find impacts of land-use and natural changes through sediment cores, metal analysis, GIS mapping and stream monitoring. 

Environmental Modeling 


Nick Jachowski and Jimmy Bramonte are combining state of the art artificial intelligence, high-resolution satellite imagery, toys, and magic to improve the prediction of the spatial distribution of coastal ecosystems in southern Thailand and Singapore. Shamraz Anver is using AI techniques to fill gaps in hydrologic times series for the Mae Sa River in Thailand.

Sediment Fingerprinting


Michelle QuakAng Zuo Jin, and Aricia Tan are using multi-proxiy sediment fingerprinting techniques to determine the sources of sediments in catchments in northern and southern Thailand.

Urban Pollution


Jiaqi Yuen, following on from her undergraduate work, is investigating the lead legacy in Singapore.  Her work also investigates the sources and fate of metal pollutants in the urban envrionment.

Floods and vulnerability


Serene Ng studies social memory and cultural perceptions of flood hazards in northern Thailand. Her work considers these factors as part of a system which can potentially impact the population's vulnerability to floods.  This research builds on more traditional physical geography methods where we explore natural and anthropogenic ampliers of high flows .

Hydrology and green technology


Lim Han She and Wanying Lim form the green team working on rain gardens and green roofs.