Joshua Benjamin

Mentor: Dr. David Kaplan
College of Engineering
"I chose to go into environmental research because I believe that it is the most pertinent topic of today. Our planet is facing challenges such as sea level rise, mass species extinction, and climate change on a global scale, with many of these issues being anthropogenic in origin. By doing research, I hope to find new ways for our our society to correct the mistakes of the past, and to design sustainable solutions that will help our society thrive for generations to come."


Environmental Engineering


Materials Science and Engineering

Research Interests

  • Environmental Sensors
  • Urban Agriculture
  • Ecohydrology

Academic Awards

  • University of Florida Dean's List
  • NSF Florida/Georgia Louis Stokes Alliance Scholar
  • Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholar
  • National Name Exchange
  • University Scholars Program 2015-2016


  • Watershed Ecology Lab
  • Society of Environmental Engineers
  • TedxUF


  • Paynes Prairie Bioblitz
  • UF Gator Band Outreach
  • Youth United Way

Hobbies and Interests

  • Webcomics
  • LEGO
  • Trumpet
  • Hiking

Research Description

Development of a Fine-scale Laser-based Water Level Sensor
Research shows that there is a dichotomy between whether the presence of floating and emergent vegetation increases or decreases the effects of evapotranspiration (ET) as opposed to a comparable surface area of open water. Some studies point to ET from a vegetated area being greater than evaporation from open water, while others have found the trend to be reversed (open water evaporation greater than vegetated surface ET), and others have found there to be little to no difference between the two. This dichotomy may be due to a lack of accurate sensor technology, as measurements of ET within wetlands are highly variable and prone to error. Because of this, our primary objective is to develop a laser-based water level sensor suitable for use in a remote wetland environment. Comparisons will be made to current methods in order to evaluate whether the effectiveness of the technology, with the end goal of reevaluating the debate on how floating vegetation influences the rate of evapotranspiration in an open-water surface.