Potkay, Aaron


  • Rutgers University, NJ, Ph.D. Candidate in Earth & Planetary Sciences, expected 2021
  • University of Texas at Austin, TX, M.S. in Geotechnical Engineering, 2017
    • Masters Thesis: "Flow Processes in Unsaturated, Expansive Soils"
  • Virginia Tech, VA, B.S. in Civil & Environmental Engineering, 2015

Honors and Awards

  • Richard K. Olsson Award for Excellence in Research from Rutgers’ Geoscience, 2020
  • Rutgers Graduate Program in Geological Science Excellence Fellowship: Fall 2017 - Spring 2019
  • CUASHI 2018 Pathfinder Fellowship
    • Project: "Developing a Whole-Plant Hydraulics Model along Soil-Root-Stem-Leaf-Atmosphere Continuum"

Research Interests

  • Vegetation and groundwater: How do soil- and ground-water dynamics drive changes in transpiration, carbon storage, growth, and allocation? What are the physiological limits and environmental drivers of rooting depth and distribution?
  • Plant physiological traits: How do plants optimize their efficiencies within the limits of genotypic variation and environmental constraints? How will their strategies adapt to a changing environment? How do (or should) plant traits scale with size? How does plant vasculature (both xylem and phloem, which transport water and sugars, respectively) fit into optimality theories? 
  • Water-stress and forest mortality: How do forests respond to meteorological and hydrological droughts? What are the limits to tree size? How does a tree's access to water and its water-use (through both xylem and phloem pathways) control its productivity, size, and vulnerability to mortality? 



Meetings / Abstracts

  • Potkay, A., Trugman, A.T., Yang, Y., Venturas, M., Anderegg, W., Mattos, C.R.C., Fan, Y. 2020. "Coupled whole-tree optimality and xylem-hydraulics explain carbon allocation under drought" - Fall 2020 AGU Meeting
  • Mattos, C.R.C., Mazzochini, G.G., Hirota, M., Oliveira, R.S., Potkay, A., Miguez-Macho, G., Fan, Y. 2020. "Assessing belowground hydrologic controls on vegetation activity across Amazônia" - Fall 2020 AGU Meeting
  • Swenson, S.C., Potkay, A., Fan, Y., Clark, M.P., Lawrence, D.M. 2019. "Implementing Hillslope-scale Hydrology in the Community Terrestrial Systems Model: Do hillslope-scale hydrologic processes affect predictions of global environmental change?" - San Francisco, CA, Fall 2019 AGU Meeting
  • Potkay, A., ten Veldhuis, M.C., Fan, Y., Ananyev, G., Dismukes, G. 2018. "Understanding Water and Gas Transport in Algal-Fungal Symbionts: Integrating Laboratory Experiments and Numerical Modeling of Lichens" - Washington D.C., Fall 2018 AGU Meeting