UNH Students, Including Several
From N.H., Among 10,000 Geophysicists At Annual Science Meeting
Contact: David Sims
Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans, and Space
Dec. 9, 2004
DURHAM, N.H. -- Every December, scientists from all over the world
gather to discuss the latest findings in everything from aeronomy
(a branch of science that deals with the atmosphere of Earth and
other planets) to volcanology at the American Geophysical Union
(AGU) annual meeting.
This year in San Francisco, the crowd of more than 10,000 will include
11 students who have studied or are studying at the University of
New Hampshire’s (UNH) Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans,
and Space (EOS) and related departments. Even some high school students
who have worked with UNH scientists will present their research
results at the meeting.
“This is significant,” says George Hurtt, an assistant
professor of community and ecosystem ecology at EOS and the Department
of Natural Resources, “because students here are not just
‘students’ – in the narrow, passive, sense –
but are learning to be active and important researchers at the national
and international scale. This is a testament first to both the quality
of their work, and, second, the quality of the research and education
experience offered here.”
AGU is a worldwide scientific community that advances “the
understanding of Earth and space for the benefit of humanity”
by informing and educating the public and by demonstrating the relevance
of geophysical research to society, by fostering a strong and diverse
Earth and space science workforce, and by providing a basis for
the development of public policy activities worldwide.
Says Scott Ollinger, an assistant professor of forest ecosystem
analysis and remote sensing at EOS and the Department of Natural
Resources, “’Geophysical’ includes everything
from the geology of stars, planets and asteroids to volcanoes, oceans,
the atmosphere, and ecosystems, which is why we’ve got scientists
and students from all four of EOS’s research centers attending.”
Ollinger, who, like Hurtt and a large contingent of other UNH scientists
will attend the annual session, notes that another reason for the
meeting’s importance is some of the specific topics covered
– “climate change being a really big one,” he
Carylon Girod of Dover, a master's degree candidate at EOS and the
Department of Natural Resources, will give a poster presentation
on research she's been doing this past year on global fire patterns
and trends as influenced by El Nino and La Nina events.
“Last summer, at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, I implemented
a fire model that predicts fire through average precipitation and
temperature in an ecosystem model from the lab,” Girod
Girod conducted the work under an award she won from the Department
of Homeland Security’s Graduate Fellowship Program. She is
being funded to attend the AGU meeting by the New Hampshire Space
Grant Consortium, which brings together the state’s education
and scientific communities to foster public interest in science
education, scholarship, and research.
Space Grant is also funding the trip to San Francisco for Shrewsbury
(Mass.) High School student Heather Briggs, who will present her
paper on work done this past summer with UNH scientists Chuck Smith,
Charlie Farrugia, and Vania Jordanova, and fellow student Travis
Glines of Littleton (N.H.) High School.
Briggs was the lead author of the paper written by the group on
analysis of magnetic field data derived from the Advanced Composition
Explorer (ACE) spacecraft during the first day of flight in 1997
when the satellite transited the Earth's magnetosphere and exited
into the solar wind.
While doing the research, both Briggs and Glines were participants
of Project SMART – a summer institute at UNH that allows talented
high school students in science and mathematics to become acquainted
with the environment and resources of the university as a place
for higher education and research.
Other students attending the AGU meeting are Ph.D. candidates Qingyuan
Zhang of Durham, Doug Vandemark of Portsmouth, Kathy Reeves of Newmarket,
Kaplan Yalcin of Auburn, Julian Jenkins of Durham, and Carsten Nielsen
of Saginaw, Mich., and master’s degree candidates Mariya Schilz
of Bayside, Calif., Sarah Silverberg of Bow, and Tracey Wawrezniak
of Morrisville, Vt.