Wednesday, August 26, 2015

WyCEHG Events Coming up in October!

The 2015 Water Interest Group (WIG) Meeting and the WyCEHG Round Up!
The Wyoming Center for Environmental Hydrology and Geophysics (WyCEHG) and Wyoming’s Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) invites water resource professionals, faculty, students, and the public to attend the 2015 Water Interest Group (WIG) Meeting and WyCEHG Roundup.  The WIG Meeting will include presentations by WyCEHG researches and collaborators, break-out sessions to discuss research needs, and an adjacent poster presentation as a part of the combined WyCEHG Roundup research event.
The event will take place at the University of Wyoming’s Marian H. Rochelle Gateway Center on Wednesday, October 14, 2015 from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. 
“This is the second of three planned meetings that are intended to bring together water interests in Wyoming as a part of the National Science Foundation award through Wyoming EPSCoR which created WyCEHG,” say Liz Nysson, Education, Outreach and Diversity Coordinator for Wyoming EPSCoR.
WyCEHG Water Interest Group Meeting in October 2013.
The first meeting was two years ago in October 2013.  According to Nysson, that meeting focused on gathering information from the state and partners so WyCEHG could develop meaningful research projects to benefit the state and public. At that meeting, Patrick T. Tyrell from the Wyoming State Engineer’s Office gave a presentation on data needs and priorities from a state water rights agency perspective.  Another presenter, Harry LaBonde from the Wyoming Water Development Office presented on hydrologic data needs. 
These meetings are an opportunity for those working in or concerned about Wyoming water issues to learn about WyCEHG research, provide direction for future studies, and partner with the WyCEHG research team. The upcoming meeting on October 14, 2015 will allow WyCEHG to share their research findings with the public and State of Wyoming.
To find out more information and register by September 14, 2015 go to: or register directly at
The Objectives of this event will be to:
·       Highlight WyCEHG collaborations, capacity building, and research results from the past 3 years;
·       Discuss and identify paths to maintain and potentially increase the capacity of WyCEHG to meet water data and research needs of the state moving forward.
Poster Presentation:
Students funded by WyCEHG are highly encouraged to present a poster for the WyCEHG Round Up. Poster presentations should be on current or completed research.
Travel Reimbursement:
Wyoming EPSCoR will have some funding available to help defray travel and lodging costs for Wyoming community college students and other partners traveling far distances. Apply for travel reimbursement at
Please Note:
Meals will be provided for registered participants—please register by 9/14/2015. Lodging accommodations are not covered, but can be arranged at the Hilton Garden Inn which is across from the Gateway Center or at another area hotel.
If you have any questions or need to withdrawal registration, please email or

By: Chelsea Parsons  

Monday, August 24, 2015

Welcome back students!

The University of Wyoming’s 2015 fall semester begins August 31! There are a number of events and opportunities for students to re-connect to university life after the summer, and get to know their campus community better. 

Here is a short list of activities, and more are available through the UW Events Calendar.

Volunteers are needed August 27 and August 28 for new and returning UW students in the residence life dorms.  Ways to volunteer include greeting students, answering questions, organizing cart and dolly use, along with other helpful tasks.  To sign up all you need to do is email or call 766-3125 and let them know what time you would be available.

Friday Night Fever is hosting its annual Casino Night on August 28 beginning at 9:00 p.m.   This well be held in the Union Lower Level and is open to all UW students.  If you do not want to play casino games, there are also opportunities to volunteer. 

Laramie Festival of Arts will be held August 28-August 29 at the Depot Park.  There will be over 30 regional artists exhibiting and selling as well as live music, children’s activities and local food trucks. 

If you’re looking to furnish your apartment or dorm room, the UW Nordic Ski Team is having a Trash 2 Treasure Fundraiser on August 29.  The sale will offer furniture and appliances for incoming or returning students who need to furnish their homes at an affordable cost.  The sale begins at 8:00 a.m. and it is recommended that you get there early as items sell quickly!

Wednesday, September 2 from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. the Recognized Student Organizations (RSO) Club and Organization Fair will take place on Prexy’s Pasture as well as in the Wyoming Union.  This is an opportunity to get involved with clubs and organizations on campus. 

Wyoming Women in Science and Engineering (WWISE) Program is accepting proposals for travel grants, due on September 4. For more information click here 

A fun event to attend is the Downtown Mash Up occurring on Friday, September 11 from 3:00 p.m. – 12:00 a.m.  This is a great event for socializing, listening to live music, eating local food, and a meet and greet with UW Athletics.  There’s also an opportunity to interact with local businesses and chances to win prizes.   

Another important aspect of returning to school (or attending UW for the first time) is remembering to take care of yourself!  Know when, and don’t be afraid to ask for help.  Keep in contact with your family, and broaden your social network by attending events UW has to offer.  If you do feel overwhelmed or are registered for a class you don’t particularly like, remember the last day to add, late register or drop a class is September 10.   

Welcome back to school and don’t forget there are no classes on September 7 for Labor Day! 

By: Chelsea Parsons 

Monday, August 3, 2015

The University of Wyoming is Making Connections with Community Colleges and Utilizing the State’s Resources

Dr. Andrew Parsekian, a professor at the University of Wyoming, researches groundwater processes using non-invasive geophysical methods.  Having taught at the University of Wyoming for a year and a half, Dr. Parsekian brings valuable knowledge to the Geology & Geophysics Department as well as the Department of Civil & Architectural Engineering. 

This summer, Dr. Parsekian teamed up with the Northern Wyoming Community College District at Spear-O-Wigwam near Sheridan, Wyoming for a one-week course. The course was entitled Field Based Environmental Science: Examining Global Problems through a Local Lens.  More specifically, the course was designed to engage students in the scientific inquiry of environmental problems while gaining experience in field techniques.  Dr. Parsekian, Dave Munsick of Sheridan College and Scott Hardon of Gillette High School taught the class, along with the aid of Trudy Munsick, the Dean of Outdoor Education at the Northern Wyoming Community College District.  The course contained eleven early career college bound students from across the state of Wyoming.  The students spent an average of 13-14 hours a day in the field camp and received three college credit hours.  At the end of the week, the students wrote a paper, presented the results of their research, and had a comprehensive exam.  

Spear-O-Wigwam is a fascinating part of Wyoming’s history; in 1923 Wyoming State Senator, Willis M. Spear, founded it as a dude ranch.  The acclaimed writer, Ernest Hemingway, used Spear-O-Wigwam as one of his writing workshops in the 1920’s.  Hemingway was quoted saying that Wyoming and Africa were his two favorite places to be.  As an ode to Mr. Hemingway, there is a cabin at Spear-O-Wigwam named after him.  The Northern Wyoming Community College District purchased Spear-O-Wigwam in 2011 in order to enhance their academic programs.  Located in the Bighorn National Forest, Spear-O-Wigwam offers many educational outdoor opportunities. 

Many high school students are not exposed to hypothesis driven science due to lack of time and resources.  Hypothesis driven science uses deductive reasoning wherein an idea or hypothesis is proposed and then tested.  Dr. Parsekian’s course introduced hypothesis driven science to the students who participated.  Wyoming’s resources are plentiful and this course took advantage of Spear-O-Wigwam to conduct their hypothesis driven science research.   

As the only University in the State of Wyoming, it is important to make connections with the community colleges and share each other’s resources since across the state; Wyoming has a lot to offer.  Dr. Parsekian will run a similar course next year with a different science question to be researched and answered by students at the Northern Wyoming Community College District.  For more information regarding registration or community events, visit     

By: Chelsea Parsons 

Monday, July 27, 2015

SRAP ends with a bang with the 2015 Symposium!

Last week, the 2015 Summer Research Apprentice Program (SRAP) Symposium was held at the Hilton Garden Inn in Laramie, Wyoming.  Twenty-two high school students participated in the annual program, coming from Wyoming and other states across the country.   Students worked on research projects for six weeks in University of Wyoming faculty research labs, and concluded the program by presenting their research at the Symposium on Friday, July 24th.

Austin Davilla, Buda, Texas 
Giavanna Lorez from California studied with faculty mentor, Dr. Karlee R. Provenza, in the Psychology Department.  Lorez studied racial bias decisions made by law enforcement officers when using lethal force.  Although her research project is still in progress, based on other research completed, she was able to determine that law enforcement officers have a bias in shooting subjects in relation to their race, specifically African Americans.  With news and videos surfacing about police use of lethal force on suspects, this is a topic relevant to current events. 

Tucker Bower from Casper, Wyoming presented on how the enzyme Cathepsin K might contribute to inflammatory pain in mice. Similar to this, Austin Davilla from Texas studied the effects of minimizing Cathepsin K to see if it protects people against cardiac dysfunction caused by alcohol.  Like these studies related to human health, Franklin, Wisconsin student, Kimberly Mackiel, studied how a high-fat diet might affect a person’s food cravings with Drs. Paige Dingess, Rebecca A. Darling, and Travis E. Brown from Neuroscience.  

Kimberley Mackiel, Franklin, Wisconsin 
 Drs. Katie Li and Jiashi Yin from Chemical and Petroleum Engineering mentored Shawn Murray who studied how to improve produced water from energy extraction with the modification of polyvinylidene fluoride ultrafiltration membranes by coating dopamine and titanium dioxide.   This research can be important for Wyoming and other states in the country that have energy production and want to reduce the environmental impacts.

Each of the twenty-two students created a poster board with their research results and gave a presentation.  All of the students did a great job presenting their projects and were very knowledgeable about the results concluded from their research by answering questions and talking to visitors.  Every student was appreciative of EPSCoR, especially Lisa Abeyta, and all of their mentors for the help they received.  Thank you to all the students who participated and made SRAP 2015 such a success!

If you would like to learn more about SRAP and all EPSCoR programs, go to

By: Chelsea Parsons 

Thursday, July 2, 2015

CI-WATER Researcher discovers groundwater modeling breakthrough

Dr. Fred Ogden's groundbreaking research is leading the way to better understanding how water moves through our environment. How did he do it? With an equation and using a computer model. 

Read more from the University of Wyoming news service:

Researcher discovers groundwater modeling breakthrough UW professor's discovery was 84 years in the making 


A University of Wyoming professor has made a discovery that answers a nearly 100-year-old question about water movement, with implications for agriculture, hydrology, climate science and other fields.

Credit: University of Wyoming
After decades of effort, Fred Ogden, UW's Cline Chair of Engineering, Environment and Natural Resources in the Department of Civil and Architectural Engineering and Haub School of Environment and Natural Resources, and a team of collaborators published their findings in the journal Water Resources Research this spring. The paper, titled "A new general 1-D vadose zone flow solution method," presents an equation to replace a difficult and unreliable formula that's stymied hydrologic modelers since 1931.

 "I honestly never thought I would be involved in a discovery in my field," Ogden says.

He anticipates this finding will greatly improve the reliability and functionality for hundreds of important water models used by everyone from irrigators and city planners to climate scientists and botanists around the country and the world, as well as trigger a new surge in data collection.

In 1931, Lorenzo Richards developed a beautiful, if numerically complex, equation to calculate how much water makes it into soil over time as rainfall hits the ground surface and filters down toward the water table. That equation, known as the Richards equation and often shortened to RE, has been the only rigorous way to calculate the movement of water in the vadose zone -- that is, the unsaturated soil between the water table and the ground surface where most plant roots grow.

Calculating the movement of water in the vadose zone is critical to everything from estimating return flows and aquifer recharge to better managing irrigation and predicting floods. But RE is extremely difficult to solve, and occasionally unsolvable. So, while some high-powered computer models can handle it over small geographic areas, simpler models or those covering large regions must use approximations that compromise accuracy.

For decades, hydrologists and other scientists have pursued a better way to estimate vadose zone water. Cornell University Environment and Ecology Professor Jean-Yves Parlange and Australian soil physicist John Robert Philip battled one another in the literature, proposing new equations and disproving each other -- from the 1950s until Philip's untimely death in a traffic accident in 1999. Princeton Environmental Engineering and Water Resources Director Michael Celia published a partial solution in 1990 that is not reliable in all circumstances.

Ogden first worked on the problem in 1994 as a postdoctoral researcher. He teamed with Iranian hydrology engineer Bahram Saghafian, who was finishing a Ph.D. at Colorado State University, to publish an equation that estimates water "suction" in the vadose zone. In the early 2000s, Ogden advised a Ph.D. candidate named Cary Talbot, a researcher with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, on a project seeking a solution to the RE. The two developed a new way to represent vadose zone water.

In more recent years, the search continued, and a major National Science Foundation research grant in 2011 enabled Ogden to bring additional experts to the quest and use UW's supercomputing power to test prospective solutions.

Then, late last fall, just before the large American Geophysical Union annual meeting, Ogden and his research team discovered a novel solution, an elegant new equation that he thought would equal the RE in accuracy while greatly reducing the computing power needed to run it. He tested this solution with precipitation data from his field site in Panama.

"We ran eight months of Panama data with 263 centimeters of rain through our equation and Hydrus," Ogden says.

Hydrus is an existing supercomputer model that uses RE. The results his model generated had only 7 millimeters, or two tenths of 1 percent, difference from the results of the Hydrus model that employs Celia's solution of the RE.

"They were almost identical. That's when I knew," he says. "I felt like the guy who discovered the gold nugget in the American River in California."

What's next for the new equation? First, it is the centerpiece of Ogden's ADHydro model, a massive, supercomputer-powered model that's first simulating the water supply effects of different climate and management scenarios throughout the entire upper Colorado River Basin. From there, Ogden hopes other models will incorporate it, too.

Find original post here:

Friday, June 5, 2015

Eco-Hydro-Geophysics through WyCEHG Training

WyCEHG hosted a summer field course from May 17-30, 2015.  This summer marked the program’s third year, its second at UW, and brought in students from historic black colleges and universities around the country to join our UW students.  Students learned about the water cycle through the combined disciplines of ecology, hydrology, and geophysics.  The two-week intensive seminar is designed to bring these concepts together and answer questions about water in interdisciplinary ways.  Above all, the course is meant to be hands-on: students used cutting-edge equipment in action, and heard lectures about mountain hydrology. 

Blair Wallace, near Vedauwoo in the Medicine Bow National Forest, was the program’s primary site.  I had the chance to accompany the students on a field trip to WyCEHG’s No Name Watershed site, where they took a tour of the high-altitude area, making stops along the way to see at the instrumentation WyCEHG uses to explore water flow in the area.    

Top: Students in WyCEHG's Field Course in the Snowy Range; Bottom Left: Students setting up a weather station at Blair-Wallis; Bottom Left: Up in the No Name Watershed looking at equipment. Photo Credit: Liz Nysson
We arrived at the No Name Watershed at mid-morning.  After strapping snowshoes to our feet, we waddled across the parking lot to the trailhead.  The day was bright and the air felt warm and fresh.  

Signs of recent WyCEHG activity were plentiful.  We saw water stations measuring wind speed, humidity, precipitation amounts, and temperature; water gauges in streambeds; specialized equipment testing the amount of sap in trees; and cameras helping to create a photographic record of snowfall from its first arrival on the mountaintop. 

Although our snowshoes came in handy, sunlit parts of the trail were slushy, and rich brown mud showed through in many places.  Snow melts bottom-up instead of top-down, as the ground thaws and the slow current of snowmelt starts to trickle downward towards valleys and rivers.  The terrain was already saturated, and cold water welled up under our feet as we made our way down the trail.  We saw bear tracks in the snow by a slow-running stream, winding back and forth over the open water. 

Beetle kill was everywhere, both in the rough yellow sap that ran down boreholes like tallow from a candle and in the dead trees crowding the living evergreens.  In many sections of the forest, most of the trees had been killed.  Single-species groves were hardest hit, while diverse stands of trees were less likely to suffer total devastation.  Second-growth was evident in many places. 

The last stop on our hike was a fen, an area where vegetation had condensed over centuries and millennia into a dense tangle of spongy undergrowth.  The role fens play in the mountain ecosystem is still being explored.  Their specialized environment may also be an especially delicate habitat for micro-organisms and flora, so the fens near No Name are protected by the Forest Service.  WyCEHG scientists are interested in the possibility of using fenland water and soil measurements to gather information about the ecological history of the mountainside.  

By the time we reached the parking lot, the sky had clouded over and a flurry of snow had begun to fall.   

WyCEHG’s EcoHydroGeophysics field course is just one way the center encourages a water resource workforce in Wyoming. To Learn more, go to

By Jess White