Graduate Fellows 2007

Graduate Research Fellows
Delgado, Stephen

Delgado, Stephen

Stephen Delgado, co-sponsored by Geography & Regional Development

My science-for-society outreach project, Facilitating Community Health Initiatives Using Public Participation GIS, has two basic aims: first, to facilitate the realization of community-based health and well-being initiatives in two underserved communities in Tucson, Arizona; and second, to promote public understanding and use of space-related information and technology in these same communities. To accomplish these interrelated goals, this project aspires to promote learning and understanding of spatial information and technologies, such as geographic information systems (GIS), global positioning systems (GPS), and remote sensing (RS), by incorporating the hands-on use of these technologies into community-driven health and wellbeing initiatives. In sum, this project aims to promote public health - one of NASA's twelve applications of national priority - while advancing public understanding of space-related information and technology through participatory processes.

In particular, this project will involve the Sunnyside and Elvira neighborhoods of Tucson, Arizona. Here, my primary partner organization, the community-based Sunnyside Elvira Advocates for Health (SEAH), is collaborating with the University of Arizona Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health (MEZCoPH), the Sunnyside Unified School District (SUSD), and the Pima County Department of Transportation (Pima DoT) to actively promote the health and well-being of the residents of these neighborhoods. Through initiatives such as the nascent Bike Map and Walking Map projects, local citizens of all ages are working to identify and map safe and accessible bicycling and walking routes within these communities. Initiatives such as these will provide an excellent opportunity for local citizens - especially local youths - to gain hands-on experience with spatial technologies such as GPS and GIS. For example, the Bike Map and Walking Map projects will involve group bicycling and walking outings through the Sunnyside and Elvira communities, in which participants will learn to use maps and GPS units to identify and map safe, accessible bicycling and walking routes in the Sunnyside and Elvira neighborhoods. For both these projects, information gained from bicycling and walking outings will then be used to collaboratively construct community maps using desktop GIS.

Currently, this outreach project is in its planning and preparation stage. I have been attending SEAH general meetings, as well as Bike Map and Walking Map subcommittee meetings, getting to know the local residents who are actively involved in these projects and discussing how community members would like to begin learning and incorporating spatial information and technology into their local health initiatives. I look forward to working together with residents of the Sunnyside and Elvira neighborhoods to benefit community health while helping to develop hands-on learning of spatial information and technology.

Fa, Vuna

Fa, Vuna

Vuna Fa, co-sponsored by the University of Arizona Department of Immunobiology

Research in biotechnology has grown to encompass almost any imaginable field of scientific research ranging from the science of space exploration to the treatment of disease. Biotech research will undeniably continue to shape our world and ultimately lead to more fascinating discoveries. However, current tools and techniques used in biotechnology can seem both complicated and intimidating to many middle and high school students and even some teachers. This is particularly true if the students do not have a clear understanding of basic science. After a discouraging personal experience with the sciences in high school, I never imagined myself capable of doing anything science-related. As a business major in college my child was diagnosed with a prenatal heart condition exposing me to the world of medicine and ultimately medical research. Today, I am an immunology graduate student studying T cell development including how thymic T cells develop in microgravity. I believe that presenting the basic science behind current scientific techniques, along with the history and people behind them, in a hands-on and entertaining way will help these students to become more scientifically literate and may even be that “eye-opening” experience that leads some students to consider science as a career. My education outreach project consists of 4 presentations called Biotech Labs that present various topics including the race to discover DNA structure, DNA analysis, how diseases are discovered and treated, and why gravity is such a big deal. My target audience for these presentations are students traditionally underrepresented within the science field including underrepresented minorities, students from low-income homes, and students that would be first generation college graduates. Initially, I present these interactive Biotech Lab presentations in science classes after meeting with the teachers to help them prepare their class and to determine the level and needs of the class. I am also developing material for the teachers so that they can continue these Biotech Labs on their own in subsequent years. I am working with various charter and public schools in the Casa Grande, Coolidge, Tucson, and surrounding areas. I am also working on a website that will make these presentations and related material and links available to any teacher or student.

The NASA/UA Spacegrant fellowship is helping me to realize one of my true joys in teaching as well as helping young students to gain greater confidence and understanding with respect to scientific discovery.

Fleenor, Stacey

Fleenor, Stacey

Stacey Fleenor, co-sponsored by the Department of Arid Lands Sciences

The physical sciences have typically been underrepresented in 4-H programs. Since 4-H focuses on hands-on activities outside of the classroom, it offers a great opportunity for science experiences for youth. In Pima County, very few youth enroll in physical science projects. Therefore, my outreach project aims to increase knowledge about and participation in atmospheric science activities among 4-H youth and leaders in order that they develop a clearer understanding of how weather relates to their everyday lives and/or career possibilities.

I am putting together presentations and activities for individual club meetings and also a meteorology field day for the Davis Monthan Air Force Base after-school program. These presentations will demonstrate weather phenomena through simple projects and also give leader's ideas of future project ideas they can do with their club. The information and activities that were developed for these activities will then be made into a 4-H leader's guide that will be accessible at the University of Arizona extension office for leaders to reference in the future.

Another important aspect of my project is to hold a weather photography workshop. Through this workshop youth will be able to improve their photography skills by understanding the effects weather can have on photos and also develop a greater awareness of clouds and other atmospheric conditions. The workshop will teach youth techniques for photographing lightning and other weather phenomena and will address how atmospheric conditions affect picture and image quality.

Hattori, Maki

Hattori, Maki

Maki Hattori, co-sponsored by the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory

Many students in middle and high school lose interest in science and math because they do not feel that the subject matter is relevant to their lives and studies. Due to this failure to connect science and math to topics of relevance and/or high interest, such as the space sciences, the natural pedagogical progression toward the learning of content and understanding of scientific methods of observation and analysis is disrupted. This problem is perpetuated as these children grow up and become parents and teachers. Their continued disinterest and fear of science and math discourages the next generation from pursuing scientific interests.

As part of my project I have developed the science content for the Juno website, attempting to phrase the important issues that the mission will try to answer in a series of basic questions, covering information about what we know, and why we would like to know more. I am also developing curriculum materials specifically targeting Jupiter and the Juno mission, which is expected to launch in 2011. The curriculum material is intended for use for middle school students distributed from the Juno website.

Fall 2007 Update

In 2006-2007 I helped develop science content for the Juno Mission, expected to launch in 2011, http://juno.wisc.edu/. We have also started development of educational material, affiliated with the Juno mission, both to help increase general interest and as part of the mission itself. One of the cameras equipped on the spacecraft is intended to be used as part of the outreach program by having most of the resulting images analyzed by students. So the goal of the educational material is to interest current students and to serve as preparation material for those students who will be doing some of these analyses starting in 2016 after the spacecraft arrives at Jupiter. We are currently producing the material for middle school level students with some of the easier materials being approachable by lower grades, and some of the more difficult materials having additional components addressing the high school level.

Rattray, Nick

Rattray, Nick

Nick Rattray, co-sponsored by the Disability Resource Center (DRC) and the Bureau of Applied Research in Anthropology (BARA), and the UA Department of Anthropology

In the last few decades, many university campuses have embarked on planning efforts to improve access and services for people with disabilities. More recently, a framework called “Universal Design” has been promoted as a way to move beyond a strategy of accommodating individuals into a focus on structural change that benefits the population as a whole. However, we understand less about the experience of people with disabilities in actually navigating through multiple campus environments – built, social, information – on the university campuses. This project seeks to involve students with disabilities in research using qualitative and geospatial techniques in order to evaluate the accessibility of the campus environment. Through direct participation in the research process, the project aims to encourage students with disabilities to engage in math, science, and geography, fields in which they are traditionally underrepresented

The main partner in the project is the Disability Resource Center (DRC). Staff at the DRC will help recruit participating students and contribute to the project design. In addition, the Center for Applied Spatial Analysis (CASA) will provide Global Positioning Systems (GPS) equipment and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) software for data collection, as well as a laboratory space for data analysis and evaluation. The research results will be addressed to the DRC, the campus planning units, and the participating academic departments.

Working as a team, students affiliated with the Disability Resource Center will collect information about campus accessibility, with the goal of understanding how universal design affects the use of space and educational outcomes. The project participants will utilize geospatial, qualitative and participatory research methods. During fifteen weeks, teams of 3-4 students will evaluate the accessibility of different areas of the UA campus, collecting information about how people with disabilities experience the social and built environment. This will include the paths that people travel, their interactions with labs and classrooms, and perceptions and attitudes students encounter. In the first phase, students will gather qualitative data about the meaning of accessibility by using “map” interviews and focus groups. Next, the students will learn how to collect and analyze geospatial data using GPS technological and GIS software. The data collected will be then uploaded into a web-based, publicly accessible interface, with portions of the qualitative data integrated with the geospatial data. Finally, the students will take a participatory research approach to understand, analyze, and evaluate strategies proposed by the campus planners.

Fall 2007 Update

Jackie CiminoKyle MutzJackie Cimino and Kyle Mutz joined the project during the Fall 2007 semester as Space Grant interns, supported by the Foundation Carinoso. Jackie is a psychology major in her third year at Arizona, and plays on the UA wheelchair tennis team. Kyle is working on his Masters in Rehabilitation Counseling, and recently returned from competing on the track in the Para-Pan American Games in Brazil. Kyle and Jackie worked on creating a final report for the project that was shared with the wider UA community, and built a web-accessible GIS interface for displaying the results of the map interviews.