Graduate Fellows 2001

Graduate Research Fellows
Blasch, Kyle

Blasch, Kyle

Kyle Blasch, co-sponsored by Geoscience and the USGS

The goal of this outreach program is to emphasize the benefits of integrated natural, global, and space sciences and how we currently observe and manage our planet Earth. The outreach program I propose targets patrons of all ages of the Coronado National Forest. Mt. Lemmon and Sabino Canyon, located within the Santa Catalina Ranger District of the Coronado National Forest, offer a spectacular glimpse of the sky island ecosystems characteristic of the Southwest. Each year approximately 500,000 patrons enter the boundaries of the Forest to take part in a variety of activities, soaking in the richness and beauty of these environments. Many of these patrons visit the park for leisure and recreational activities, but a large number (especially patrons from outside the Tucson area) visit the Forest as ecotourists. I will plan and develop multimedia presentations for the visitor centers, guided hikes, campfire and amphitheater talks, and CNF publications. I will also assist in developing exhibits for the visitor centers, future trail signs, and hands on laboratories for younger patrons. Finally, I will help develop an outreach chapter on their web page to include a list of outreach activities and a calendar of events. The content of the exhibits is targeted at hydrology, ecology, and management in the 21st century using space sciences.

The outreach program at Sabino Canyon is progressing on schedule. Accomplishments to date include the successful archiving of outreach media (slides, National Weather Service images, USGS flow data, and water quality into a digital format. A portion of this media was incorporated into a natural history and ecology presentation. Since the beginning of January the talk has been given an average two times a week to patrons of all ages. The presentation is going through a final revision with attached notes for final placement on the Sabino Canyon web site. In this form it will be available for teachers to download for class instruction.

The hydrology presentation is almost complete and will be used to educate the Friends of Sabino Canyon on March 16, 2001 who often overlap as interpretive volunteers at Sabino Canyon. A shorter watered-down version of the talk will also be used for the visitor center and placed on the website.

A short remote sensing talk is in production and upon completion of the previous talks will be finished. After talking with several volunteers it became obvious that more provocative talks are required at Canyon for frequent patrons and the Friends of Sabino Canyon. Thus we are accumulating topics such as species reintroduction, fee programs and forest funding, water resources, and forest management in an urban setting for a challenge series of lectures and discussions.

Finally, the presentations are being altered for use in field trips and campfire talks. Overall the response to the presentations has been great. Patrons from Tucson and from afar are amazed at the diversity and ecological wonders displayed by Sabino Canyon.

Fall 2001 Update

The program includes the creation of multimedia presentations for the visitor centers, guided hikes, campfire and amphitheater talks, and CNF publications. The program also will help develop exhibits for the visitor centers and trail signs when necessary. Finally, the presentations will be developed for addition to the web page.The benefits of this program are outreach opportunities for both NASA's global climate change and remote sensing programs as well as the ecological and climatological wonders of the Coronado Forest.

After one years time the outreach program is on track and expanding. Three visitor center presentations have been created highlighting the natural history, water resources, and remote sensing. Recently Sabino Canyon hired a new outreach representative and together we have organized a 2-hour Saturday morning hike focusing on water issues. The hikes and visitor center presentations have been announced in the local Tucson and Phoenix papers. We hope this part of the outreach program will grow. We will be adding more hikes this fall during the day when the weather is a bit more pleasant.

Usually I volunteer on Saturday, as this is the busiest day, however I have supplemented this with visits to schools and an Earth Day activity as a representative of Sabino Canyon. Currently I am designing an exhibit, which will combine the continuous stream flow measurements at Sabino Creek with a description of seasonal, historical, and monsoon flow. I am working on a cost estimate for the project and writing a proposal to solicit funds.

Campbell, Tim

Campbell, Tim

Tim Campbell, co-sponsored by the University of Arizona Computer Science Department.

I am the student manager of the University of Arizona Student Satellite Program (SSP). The SSP is an organization that joins faculty and students in the goal of designing and building satellites for scientific experimentation. The environment is one in which faculty advisors work closely with students, hopefully imparting to students their knowledge and skills. The SSP has recently transitioned from the design of one fairly large and complex satellite to the concurrent design and creation of several smaller 'CubeSats' that are to be brought from drawing board to launch in one to two years. This is a significant departure from the SSP's original UASat, which was a larger more complicated satellite. With this ambitious launch schedule comes a more demanding program. In order to make milestone dates, much of the leadership of the program has shifted towards faculty advisors. Thus one of my most important duties is to see that the SSP remains a program focused on furthering students' educations. My involvement with SSP will be both technical and administrative. I am on the attitude control team of Rincon Sat and the controller board team of CubeSat X. I will be responsible for recruitment and critical design reviews. Additionally, I sit on the program's technical and executive steering committees. I will also be involved in presenting the UofA SSP to the public and to other student flight programs. My short-term duties involve aiding SSP's different satellite teams in completing their projects in a timely matter. The long-term goal of the SSP is to design and build, in conjunction with Space Grant consortia around the country, a flotilla of satellites to be sent to Mars. I expect much of my energy will be devoted to laying the groundwork to realize this ambitious goal.

Fall 2002 Update

Campbell, TimThe University of Arizona Student Satellite Program (SSP) was created five years ago, for industry, community, and university leaders to guide students in their dream of designing, building, and operating a satellite. SSP gives students an opportunity to make complex systems function from design to operation through teamwork, while providing opportunities to develop real-world skills and training desired by future employers. Project efforts began with the design and development of UASat, a large and costly satellite for launch from the Space Shuttle. This effort lagged with no NASA flight manifest or sufficient funding to complete the satellite within the 4-5 year academic life of an undergraduate student. In 2000 the Space Grant Program accepted managing control of SSP, reassessed efforts and changed the focus to building smaller and cheaper picosat "CubeSats" (10 cm cubes with less than 1 kg of mass) to establish a track record and to demonstrate success to funding agencies and to NASA. Industry supports this effort to train student (the future high-tech work-force) by building picosats, and appreciates shorter time-lines for development and smaller costs. CubeSats can be built, tested, launched, and tracked in a relatively short period of time, allowing students to build and launch a satellite prior to graduation and in some cases to receive class-credit for program participation. Grants from industry, the university (UA) and private foundations help fund student support, operations, and launch costs. The SSP has involved approximately 120 students in the last five years and currently includes approximately ten faculty mentors, thirty undergraduates, and four graduate students.

Starting in 2001 we have focused on building two CubeSats for launch from Baikanor, Kazakhstan in the spring of 2003, fund-raising and building partnerships with industry, and spear-heading a Nationwide Space Grant Student Satellite Program Initiative. Our first two CubeSats are Rincon Sat and FfizE Sat. Ricon Sat will test several engineering systems that will support scientific payloads on future CubeSats. Its solar panels will generate approximately 1 watt of power, and current measurements from panels on the six cube faces will provide an indication of attitude to analyze tumbling. 18 other voltage, current, and temperature measurements will provide engineering data on the satellite systems. The telemetry downlink and command uplink will utilize amateur radio frequencies. This satellite will also carry a beacon with low rate telemetry capability as an independent backup system. Rincon Sat is now built and undergoing integration testing and trouble shooting. FfizE Sat has 6 high-quality optical retroreflectors similar to those left on the moon by the Apollo astronauts. Precise tracking by laser ground stations will help resolve a discrepancy between theories and experiments for the velocity aberration effects in reflected light beams. It is also hoped that tracking will allow measurement of spacecraft charging by measuring orbital displacement. An on-board radio beacon will report on the performance of the magnetic and gravity gradient attitude stabilization systems. It will also carry a small battery powered beacon for assistance in initial orbit tracking and acquisition of some satellite data. Plans for additional future CubeSats are underway. We are in the process of building a state-wide coalition to design and construct the next generation of cubesats that will employ active attitude determination and control systems and increasingly sensitive instrumentation.

My time as a Space Grant Fellow has been spent participating in the SSP at various levels. As the student program manager I try to involve myself in all aspects of the SSP, from working one on one with SSP students, to organization and administration at the program level, to working towards making the University of Arizona SSP a key member of a new national coalition of student satellite programs. In this, my second year as a fellow, I have begun working on a pilot program to begin the design of a satellite meant for mars orbit. This project is novel not only in its goal of sending student-built hardware to Mars, but also in our multi-institutional approach. We hope a distributed organization will help us to reach a greater number of students while taking advantage of more institutions and industry partners' resources. A primary activity for this coming year will be to involve students and faculty in a thorough examination of existing components, materials and methods that could be adapted or modified to overcome the limitations of small satellites in performing science experiments of significant value. All participating institutions will be working together to extend the technological frontier by addressing underdeveloped technologies that will make the use of pico/micro satellites possible for such applications. An example of one area requiring special attention is that of platform stabilization and pointing for the very smallest of satellite classes. Consortium members will also seek to pool collective resources and knowledge to design a full bus that will implement the best aspects of separately designed systems. Other issues that will be studied are micro-miniaturization and modularization of the bus.

Gonzalez, David

Gonzalez, David

David Gonzalez, sponsored by the University of Arizona Land Grant/Space Grant Geospatial Extension Specialist Program

I am a graduate student in the Department of Soil, Water & Environmental Science at the University of Arizona. I am working to integrate research associated with assessing soil erosion risk with an outreach program designed to help Cooperative Extension teach small farmers and ranchers about watershed-scale erosion issues. My research involves using multitemporal satellite imagery to improve our ability specify the land cover factor in the Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation (RUSLE). The validation component of my research is being conducted on the Walnut Gulch Experimental Watershed in Cochise County in southeastern Arizona. Adjacent to areas in Cochise County that have been transformed from traditionally grazed rangeland to small ranchettes, Walnut Gulch and its the rich biophysical datasets are ideal for help new land owners understand the implications of land use practices on land cover. My outreach project involves the development of a visual simulation that will help small farmers and ranchers understand the science behind land use change and associated erosion. A secondary objective is to demonstrate how geospatial research and technology can be used by the general public to help in the management of natural resources.

This outreach project is based upon the development of a soil erosion risk model over Walnut Gulch watershed and Cochise County using mathematical model using ground and satellite data. To do this, I have been creating an index to assess the risk of erosion in relation to land use, using our knowledge of weather, topography and soil characteristics, using interrelationships among these factors to define the soil risk.

During the research phase of this project, I have been working mainly with Terrestrial Biophysics Remote Sensing group of the University of Arizona and erosion experts from the Southwest Watershed Research Center of Tucson's USDA-Agriculture Research Service. Having completed the research phase of this project, I will now be working with Cochise County Cooperative Extension agents to apply the knowledge that we got from the first step. I will create a visualization of landscape change using serial time imagery for Cochise County (including Walnut Gulch) using Landsat Multispectral Scanner (MSS) and Thematic Mapper (TM) from 1973 to 2001. I will compliment this with AVHRR from 1989 to date, and if possible, more recent MODIS imagery. While these sensors provide data of much coarser spatial resolution than Landsat, they have many more overpasses over a given year. This will permit a visualization of seasonal changes to help the Cooperative Extension Agents graphically explain the differences between human and climate-induced changes in the landscape. The final phase of this project will be to insert the above facets into a dynamic erosion model with using a Geographic Information System (GIS) and a climate driver.

Kempf, Nicole

Kempf, Nicole

Nicole Kempf, co-sponsored by the University of Arizona Atmospheric Sciences Department.

Students repeatedly practice fire drills, tornado drills, earthquake drills, and people know how to evacuate in case of a hurricane. However, little is taught about how to avoid being struck by lightning. As a second year Master's student studying the relationships between lightning and precipitation, I have learned that lightning is the second leading cause of death due to weather in the United States, with approximately 100 people killed and 750 injured each year (Harms, 2001). Because of this, I want to educate children, and the public as a whole, on why lightning is so deadly and what can be done to prevent a flash from hurting them. One way I intend to do this is through my participation in the Thunderstorm Observations and Research (ThOR) project. I have been involved in making simple lightning sensors and counters. Young students will be able to build such a sensor and use it to make measurements of when, where, and how many lightning flashes occur near their school. Teachers will then be able to teach about electricity and lightning, and most importantly, lightning safety. For older students in high schools, I have demonstrated that one can use a web cam to record lightning images and the sound of thunder. The students can then use these images to study various characteristics of lightning.

By allowing students to take a hands-on approach, they will be more excited about learning the material because they have taken an active role in putting the equipment together and seeing the data that they themselves have acquired. Instead of just listening to a teacher lecture to them, children will learn about the scientific method by actually performing the steps involved. I will try to have these sensors, along with the training material for teachers on how to build and use them, implemented into the GLOBE program, which currently uses the Internet to connect schools from around the world who collect various weather measurements. I hope to take an active roll in this process and help the teachers during their GLOBE training or by visiting schools and having discussions about lightning with the children. Weather is such an exciting topic and with the right instruction and hands-on activities, students will be eager to learn about the ways in which our atmosphere, and science as a whole, works and will take this knowledge along with them on their journey through life.

Harms, D., W. Roeder, R. Vavrek, F. Brody, and J. Madura. Lightning Safety for Schools, Amer. Meteor. Soc. 10th Symposium on Education, Albuquerque, NM, 2001.

Lee, Janice

Lee, Janice

Janice Lee, co-sponsored by the Department of Astronomy.

Through my training in science education and previous experience with students as a high school physics teacher, it has become clear to me that traditional American science curricula is the source of many misconceptions of how scientific progress is made and how research is performed. Frequently, laboratory "experiments" are merely exercises in following cookbook-style directions while assignments and lectures are overly focused on memorization, imitation and repetition. Students are rarely engaged in inquiry activities and are not afforded the opportunity to experience the thrill of discovery or the frustration associated with unmasking trends in data and the gradual construction of a framework for understanding observed phenomena. Traditional classroom science not only is inadequate for developing critical thinking skills, it also leaves students confused about how real-world research is conducted.

As a Space Grant Graduate Fellow, I have been provided with the opportunity to address these concerns while concurrently pursuing research in extra-galactic astronomy as a doctoral student at Steward Observatory.

Presently, I am working with the education department at the Flandrau Science Center to reorganize and improve their demonstration "modules," hour-long ready-to-implement hands-on science lessons. These modules, which include lesson outlines, worksheets and all the materials needed for the suggested activities, are an invaluable resource Tucson classroom teachers, who often do not have the time or supplies required to plan such lessons. Instructors can even request that a Flandrau "demonstrator" come to their classroom to teach the lesson or bring their classes to the Science Center to experience the module instead of implementing the module themselves. However, only four modules are currently available. To remedy this, we are working on creating new ready-to-use modules. In addition, we are also re-organizing the existing modules so that they more nearly approach the student-centered and inquiry-based ideal rather than reflecting the instructor-centered and lecture-based traditional model.

On a second front, I am also beginning a collaboration with the "Research-Based Science Education with the Hubble Space Telescope" (RBSE) project at the National Optical Astronomy Observatory. This initiative involves the development of research-based curricula in which the acquisition and analysis of real astronomical data become the primary channel though which students learn science. I am presently investigating the feasibility of creating a off-site program in which advanced high-school students can become involved in long-term astrophysical research. This requires the identification of a target student population, local mentors, and appropriate research projects. Currently, many able students who are interested in research astronomy are funneled into other disciplines simply because of the greater availability to learn about and participate in projects in those fields. My objective is to encourage more students to pursue careers in astronomy and astrophysics by increasing number of early opportunities for involvement in research in these fields.

Fall 2001 Update

During the Spring of 2001, I completed my collaboration with the Flandrau Science Center in the development of "demonstration modules," hour-long ready to implement hands-on science lessons. We have designed a module that allows primary school students to explore the phenomenon of magnetism. In this module students are introduced to the concept of "force field" through discussion and activities that involve building compasses and mapping field lines of various types of magnets using iron filings and ferromagnetic fluid. In an experiment that involves building electromagnets, the students also discover that current carrying wires have magnetic properties. They learn about the variables that contribute to the strength of an electromagnetic field through a class competition that asks the student to build the strongest electromagnet possible using a given set of materials. Flandrau volunteers were trained to use the module, which includes a central lesson plan, worksheets, and lab materials, this past April. The module has been made available to TUSD teachers since mid-April. In addition, we have worked on modifying and updating other existing modules on the subjects of light and optics.

This past April, I also developed an inquiry-based galaxy classification activity. In this activity, students are asked to work in groups of three to four. After a short introduction to the various types of celestial bodies that an astronomer can observe in the night sky, each group receives a set of 25 galaxy cards consisting of mid-quality black-and-white images of galaxies of various morphological types. The groups are asked to invent a classification scheme to categorize the different types of galaxies and then are asked to compare and contrast their schemes. The students are then asked to think about the possible physical relationships between the objects. The activity was field tested at the Mansfield Elementary School as part of a week-long unit which introduced students to the importance of classification in science. The activity was also offered to participants in "Daughters' on Campus Day" as individual hour-long introductions to extragalactic astronomy. The activity was a success with children (and adults) of all age groups, and allowed the participants to truly explore and learn about crucial concepts of astronomy without the need for a prerequisite of a large base of prior knowledge. It was extremely satisfying to observe students as they reinvented Hubble's classification scheme and developed theories on galaxy mergers and effects of inclination on the appearance of disk galaxies. Currently, I, along with Suzanne Jacoby (NOAO), Connie Walker (NOAO) and Tim Slater (Steward), are writing a NASA IDEAS grant to request funding to develop, test and disseminate the activity on a nation-wide level. We are working to incorporate these central ideas concerning the extragalactic sky into the standard basic science middle school curriculum. This endeavor will involve the acquisition of color high-resolution galaxy images from existing archives, the design and mass-production of new galaxy cards, testing and evaluation on the district level, dissemination through the existing Project- Astro network and the National Science Teachers' Association, and presentations at conferences. We project that these goals will be completed on a two-year time scale.

Mauz, Kathryn

Mauz, Kathryn

Kathryn Mauz, co-sponsored by the University of Arizona Arid Lands Resource Sciences and Arizona Remote Sensing Center.

I am working with the Conservation Science and Education departments at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum in conjunction with the Migratory Pollinators campaign. The Museum's research is documenting the natural histories for four target migratory pollinator species – lesser long-nosed bat, rufous hummingbird, white-winged dove, and monarch butterfly. Their efforts are steering education and policy aimed at protecting these creatures and, importantly, their habitats both in Mexico and in the United States. I am using satellite remote sensing data to analyze spatial and temporal aspects of habitat and habitat change relating to these species. My outreach project will contribute the results of this research to the Museum's science team, and I will develop imagery-based displays to accompany pollinator exhibits at the Museum and printed materials for distribution through the campaign. Updates, results, activities, and related links will appear here: http://arsc.arid.arizona.edu/migratory/.

Fall 2002 Update

In the first year, I met with each of the three principal investigators on the Migratory Pollinators campaign to discuss their research and potential ways that remote sensing might be incorporated to elucidate or to illustrate spatial aspects of their questions. I have also met with the project's outreach coordinator and the project's director several times to discuss ways that remote sensing imagery can become part of the project's public outreach efforts. At the same time, I have worked on collecting imagery and GIS data for the area of the migratory corridor - a process which has been both frustrating and eye-opening: that digital data, which seems so ubiquitous here in the US and particularly at the UA, is not so in and for Mexico. Continued exploration of the migratory pollinator theme has led to collaborations with scientists in the US and Mexico who have conducted related field work and are willing to share their data. I have developed a small web site that introduces four themes - vegetation dynamics, the fire cycle, land cover change, and climate variability - and the ways in which remote sensing data can contribute to understanding these processes as they relate to migratory pollinators. Results of analyses and collaborations that have grown out of this outreach project will be posted as links from these pages, and in the coming year I will pursue options with the Museum for disseminating these results to other audiences.

Morrill, Carrie

Morrill, Carrie

Carrie Morrill, co-sponsored by Geoscience.

My outreach project is to develop and carry out a program designed to familiarize middle school or high school students with the scientific method and with several issues related to climatic change and variability. In this program, students will carry out a scientific experiment to test the following hypothesis: the amount of winter rainfall in Tucson varies with the state of the El Niño-Southern Oscillation. To test this hypothesis, students will collect several types of data. These include precipitation amount for the current winter measured in their own rain gauges, precipitation amount for past winters available from the internet, and information about the state of ENSO gathered from satellite data. Students will "publish" our results on our own web page.

In the beginning of the school year, I will work for several months with a well-established education outreach project, the GLOBE (Global Learning and Observation to Benefit the Environment) project, to learn about developing a successful inquiry-based curriculum. I will also use this opportunity to develop contacts with teachers in the Tucson Public School District. After working with teachers to tailor my proposed project to the abilities and interests of a particular age level, we will initiate the project in their classes.

This summer, I attended a workshop for GLOBE teachers to learn how this program is used in the classroom. This fall, I visited Ms. Suzanne Maly's middle school class (Grades 6-8) at Safford Middle School several times a week to help students with their GLOBE activities. The students collect temperature, humidity, cloud cover and precipitation measurements from their weather station and enter their data into the GLOBE server. These measurements will be used by scientists to study topics such as global warming. This winter, Ms. Maly and I have begun leading a discussion of the students' GLOBE results during one class each week. Each week, the students examine a different set of graphs and try to make sense of their results. Our goal is to give the students practice in critical thinking and asking questions. This spring, we plan to have the students turn their questions into hypotheses that they will test using the meteorological data that they have collected. We hope to share our experiences (successes and failures) with other GLOBE teachers in order to make it easier for them to initiate similar projects in their own classes.

Fall 2001 Update

My first step in carrying out my outreach project was to work for several months with a well-established education outreach project, the GLOBE (Global Learning and Observation to Benefit the Environment) project, in order to learn about developing a successful inquiry-based curriculum and to develop contacts with teachers in the Tucson Public School District. In the summer of 2000, I attended a workshop for GLOBE teachers to learn how this program is used in the classroom. I began visiting a middle school classroom (Grades 6-8) several times a week the following fall and spring and I helped students with their GLOBE activities (e.g., collecting temperature, humidity, cloud cover and precipitation measurements from their weather station and entering their data into the GLOBE server).

While working with GLOBE, I have noticed the difficulties teachers face in getting their students to critically examine the data they collect and to ask and answer scientific questions using their data. There is a significant need for a curriculum unit focused on the scientific method that teachers can integrate with their GLOBE data collection. Currently, I am redesigning my proposed program in order to achieve this. This fall I will be testing and refining the curriculum unit in several middle school classes in Tucson. Eventually, my goal is to make the unit widely available so that any of the more than 10,000 GLOBE classrooms around the world would be able to use it.

Sengupta, Sanchita

Sengupta, Sanchita

Sanchita Sengupta, sponsored by the University of Arizona Land Grant/Space Grant Geospatial Extension Specialist Program

Currently there is a boom in the West, marked by rapid development and driven by higher levels of individual income. There is a phenomenal amount of in-migration of people from other states to the Western region comprising mainly the eight states of Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming, that is changing the native biodiversity of this region. These changes are mainly due to the conversion of private agricultural land mainly ranches occupying huge tracts of land to rural subdivisions or smaller ranchettes or hobby ranches. Immediate consequences of these changes are loss of open spaces and increased crowding of the rural areas. Other ramifications of the problem are imbalances in biodiversity caused due to overgrazing in these sensitive semi-arid areas.

I am a student at the Agricultural and Resource Economics Department at the University of Arizona and I have been working with the Arid Land Department on studying the causes behind these changes that are taking place. My study involves quantifying the extent of this problem. I am trying to estimate the demand for the ranchettes or the ownership of a second home in the rural areas and to identify the people who are migrating as well as where they are migrating. I am using econometrics tools to estimate the probability of ranchette formation based on the desire for open space, distances from the civic amenities and other geophysical characteristics like scenic beauty of the place which is assumed to depend on elevation, greenness and precipitation of the area. Once the potential areas for ranchette formation are identified, necessary steps can be taken to prevent any adverse effects of land subdivision. For the extension program I want to develop a model that will be helpful in analyzing policy and management issues for ranch and ranchette development in a way that prevents any adverse effects on the environment. Thus it is imperative to recognize who and where are the target people who would benefit most from the extension work. For this I am thankful for the support from the assessor's offices at Yavapai and Cochise county and the extension agents of the University of Arizona in various counties.