Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Director of Latino Outdoors, José González, is sharing his experiences at several fun events today and tomorrow


What do cultura, Latino community and the outdoors have in common?

All three topics intersect perfectly this Thursday and Friday at the University of Wyoming under the guidance of José González.

José is the Founder and Director of Latino Outdoors, an organization dedicated to expanding outdoor and natural-science opportunities for Latinos through education and community initiatives.

After teaching for several years in California public schools, José worked as a coordinator and instructor in outdoor education programs at National Hispanic University and San Jose State University. He has a strong interest in conservation, the environment, and the arts. His vibrant illustrations can be seen at josegagonzalez.com. 

In cooperation with M.A.S.S., the Outdoor Program, Haub School of ENR, M.E.Ch.A., WyCEHG, NSF, and the Latino Studies Department are hosting a variety of fun events featuring José.

Today (February 25th), Jose will give a talk on “Chicano Community” in the Education Annex in Room 215 from 4:10 to 6:40 p.m.; all are welcome to attend.

Thursday, February 26th is packed with awesome events. From 12:20 to 1:20 p.m., the ENR Career Series will feature a presentation by José and other fascinating speakers in the College of Agriculture Auditorium. RSVP to melanie.matthews@uwyo.edu for a free, delicious lunch prepared by Night Heron.

At 2:00 p.m., join M.A.S.S and José González for a snowshoe hike at Happy Jack. RSVP to teddi.hofmann@gmail.com for free transportation and free snowshoe rentals from the Outdoor Program.

To finish out the day, José will speak from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Berry Center in Room 138, as part of the Haub School Environmental Speaker Series. This presentation is open to the public and there is a reception following the presentation.

Don't miss out on this fantastic opportunity to enjoy fun activities and hear from a community leader!   

Monday, February 23, 2015

The Power of Inclusion: An Interview with Dr. Cheri Blauwet

As a wheelchair racer on the US Paralympic team, Dr. Cheri Blauwet won a total of seven medals before retiring from competitive sports.  She started racing in high school and went on to excel as a college athlete.  She is currently an instructor in sports medicine and rehabilitation at Stanford Medical School, and an attending physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital. 

She visited the University of Wyoming this week to discuss on-campus access, opportunity, and the value of inclusion.

She first attended college at the University of Arizona, which she describes as supportive and encouraging.  Stanford Medical School was “tougher.”  Dr. Blauwet was their first wheelchair user, and had to collaborate with her school to improve access.  Proactive inclusion and on-campus visibility at Arizona helped give her confidence and a sense of her own potential: “Being shown, even in your first year, what’s really possible is really productive.” 

 Basic access for students with disabilities is still a problem, especially at older campuses.  Those venerable ivy-covered buildings tend to have a lot of stairs, and administrators may see alterations like ramps and elevators as unsightly or costly. 

Transparency and communication are important steps towards inclusion, so that students don’t need to ask for support or wonder whether stigma is a factor in the admissions process.  “Students need to look for a strong sense of mentorship and collaboration.  In residency training, you do start to claim some autonomy, so you can shift towards fields that suit you.”

Dr. Blauwet believes that more traditional medical schools can have especially rigid attitudes: “Some schools still feel that every student has to be able to do every physical task.  Some have taken a much more proactive approach—what is your goal?  A good example is a quadriplegic student who wants to be a psychiatrist.  Maybe he doesn’t have to stand upright at an operating table and suture something.”

Likewise, student athletes confront the belief that “it just isn’t possible.”  Athletes with disabilities have taken the lead in campus sports. “Any group of people can start a club or an intermural team.  That’s already happening.”  Varsity status, however, is less available to athletes with disabilities.  Athletic department heads may see them as negligible or believe that they take funding away from ‘real’ athletes. “It always comes down to the same challenges for athletes who are not part of the mainstream.  For women’s sports it was this argument that there aren’t enough women even interested…it’s actually very reminiscent.” 

Sports medicine incorporates some of the same bias.  “Sports medicine physicians are used to working with robust, healthy athletes who acquire an injury.  Their big fear is that people with disabilities are already very sick people and then they’re going to play sports, so the risk is going to be that much higher.”

This problem is not limited to sports medicine, but extends to health care providers in general.  Impairment is equated with invalidity, such that it is difficult for doctors to see patients with disabilities as healthy, active people.  As a result, patients are less likely to receive appropriate care and perhaps less likely to feel respected by their doctors.  One solution has been to invite people with disabilities to speak to medical students about their experiences, positive and negative.  Medical students learn to see patients with disabilities as individuals with diverse needs and hear firsthand about the impact of ableism. 


Dr. Blauwet says that this misperception is changing: “We have leaders in sports medicine leaning to work with this population, and that brings it down to earth.”  A sports-medicine practitioner herself, she recommends a ‘down-to-earth,’ patient-centered approach: “90 percent of the issues you will encounter with an athlete with a disability are what you see with any athlete—overuse, trauma injuries—and you treat them exactly the same.”

Watch this space for an upcoming post about disability awareness at WyCEHG!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

No Brakes: The Transformative Power of Paralympic Sport




Join us on February 16 at 7pm in the Business Auditorium for an evening with Dr. Cheri Blauwet, a medical doctor and Paralympic athlete, to explore the social impact of Paralympics and changing paradigms around disability.

Dr. Blauwet is an Instructor in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Harvard Medical School and an attending physician at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital and the Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

She has also earned seven Paralympic medals, competing as a wheelchair racer with the US Team at three Paralympic Games: Sydney ’00, Athens ’04, and Beijing ’08.  She is also a two-time winner of both the Boston and New York City Marathons, a three-time winner of the Los Angeles Marathon, and has been nominated for the ESPY Award, the Laurens World Sports Award, and Women’s Sports Foundation Athlete of the Year.

Dr. Blauwet was invited to speak at the University of Wyoming by Sarah Konrad, Associate Director of EPSCoR.  Dr. Konrad chairs the Athlete Advisory Council for the US Olympic Committee, and met Blauwet through her work with the US Anti-Doping Agency.  Dr. Blauwet is also active in Boston’s bid to host the 2024 Olympics.

Her experience as a medalist, medical student, physician and teacher has inspired her to “bring the same sense of acceptance and positive self-identity” to her patients. Don’t miss this compelling speaker!  ​

Monday, February 9, 2015

New faces at EPSCoR: Welcome and introduction by Meghan Neville, EPSCoR’s new communications intern!

Have you ever been a part of a community that supports an ideal that you really believe in?  One of my passions is to increase representation and diversity in STEM fields.

I never gave much thought to having a career in a STEM field, until I came to the University of Wyoming and found such a unique level of support from my instructors, on-campus STEM groups, and the Laramie community. I am now a proud Environment and Natural Resource and Communication dual major with recent field experience in scientific data collection and analysis.

Seeing diversity in the sciences is powerful, and I am excited to join the EPSCoR team and make a difference in other student’s academic careers. As the new Undergraduate Communications Intern at EPSCoR, I am particularly looking forward to learning about community outreach efforts and adding my voice to the dialogue between EPSCoR and the campus community. 

This semester, I am joined by Jess White, the new Graduate Communications Intern on the EPSCoR team.  She will lead the writing for the EPSCoR blog and is eager to have the opportunity to learn more about STEM research at the University of Wyoming.

Jess is originally from the Bay Area in California. Although she would call herself a ‘city girl,’ she came to Laramie for the rare chance to specialize in creative nonfiction. 

Our new GA traveled for several years, working first in Argentina and then in Korea, where she taught engineers at a Kia factory.  Her earliest and most memorable abroad posting was in Cambodia, where she taught English at a school for kids from the Stung Mean Chey dump.
One of Jess's watercolor pictures.
She will return to Cambodia this summer to conduct research and teach art. Her investigation will target the NGOs that seek donations from tourists through cafés and boutiques in Cambodian cities. 

Jess has been painting for over a dozen years and has shown her art in several venues, including Coal Creek Café in Laramie.

While I have not had a chance to travel as extensively as Jess, over winter break I had a fantastic opportunity to learn about sustainability issues in the Canary Islands, Spain, for an ENR field course. I enjoyed this trip immensely, as I am very interested in sustainable practices. I try to bring this ‘green’ passion into other elements of my life. This includes involvement in campus clubs like the ENR Club and MASS (Multicultural Association of Student Scientists), eating organic and locally produced food, and conducting research last fall about the ways message framing affects student attitudes on glass recycling in Laramie. I hope to someday dedicate my life to combating climate change, whether through the means of research, mitigation efforts, or policy.

Jess, on the other hand, dreams of publishing a book on her research pursuits in Cambodia, and after graduating, working as writer and editor for a small, progressive company, although she is not ruling out future academic pursuits.

By Meghan Neville

Friday, December 12, 2014

WyCEHG heads to San Francisco for annual science meeting

On Monday, December 15th-19th, Wyoming Center for Environmental Hydrology and Geophysics (WyCEHG) faculty and students will join more than 24,000 geophysical professionals at the annual American Geophysical Union (AGU) Fall Meeting. The event, which has been running for 46 years and is the largest of its kind in the world, will be held at the Moscone Center in San Francisco.

The meeting will feature over 14,000 poster presentations, in addition to more than 7,000 oral presentations from faculty, students and scientists around the country.

"Some of the biggest names in the hard sciences will be there,"says WyCEHG scientist and facilities manager Elizabeth Traver, who helped organize WyCEHG participants. "It's an incredible place for students and faculty to connect and network with people whose work they've followed."

Twenty WyCEHG students and faculty are presenting their research at the event. Posters and talks cover a wide range of topics related to surface hydrology, critical zones, bark beetle impact and more.

And participation at the conference isn't only limited to those who make it to San Francisco. This year, AGU is offering live internet streams of presentations, and ePosters. For more information on how to stream events, visit the AGU website.

"If you're a young scientist, this a great opportunity to see what's out there," says Traver. "It's just a really motivating conference. It's fascinating, interesting and groundbreaking."

By Manasseh Franklin

Friday, December 5, 2014

WyCEHG Scientist uses geophysics to construct climate history

From a young age, Dr. Bryan Shuman was drawn to understanding the way the natural world works. That fascination took him from his native northeast to Colorado College for undergrad, Brown University for grad school, the University of Oregon for a postdoc, the University of Minnesota for his first faculty position, and finally to UW.

Now, as an associate professor in Geology and Geophysics and director of the Roy Shlemon Center for Quaternary Studies, his desire to understand the natural world is as strong as ever.

“I’m really interested in how climate changes and effects water resources and ecosystems,” says Shuman, “and I use geologic evidence to look at how that’s occurred in the past.” 

He works within the timeframe of the past 15,000 years—since the last ice age—and has research sites in Wyoming, Colorado, and New England. In addition to using geologic evidence to understand climate processes, he also looks at climate’s impact on other systems. “I do a lot of work with fossil material to look at how forests in particular have responded. And I use lakes as giant precipitation gauges to reconstruct drought patterns in the past across many different parts of the continent.”

Bryan Shuman at Lewis Lake. Work focuses on
documenting and mapping changes in the levels of lakes
throughout North America over the past 15,000 years.
In order to conduct his research, Shuman employs less than tradition methods. “For me, the Wyoming Center for Environmental Hydrology and Geophysics (WyCEHG) is a really exciting development because I am basically the only person in this field of paleoecology who uses geophysics,” he says. Geophysical tools, such as ground penetrating radar (GPR), help him to evaluate evidence of past climate change, and to look at the effects those changes have had on water supply and forests.

Shuman hopes to use his research not only for the academic purposes of reconstructing a climate history, but also to inform the public on the ways a shifting climate could effect the water resources and ecosystems of the future.

“One reason this research is important is that it’s providing water managers with examples of how systems have changed before. These are not climate model speculations about what might change, but actual examples of ways in which our water resources have been impacted.”

In addition to his research, Shuman also teaches
classes on climate.
“People are often surprised to realize that there were times when the Platte River—which we are totally dependent on for water and also energy—was dry for thousands of years,” Shuman says, and it wasn’t so long ago that the river was in that state. “The fact that we could change the climate and move into a situation that’s much drier than we are currently used to is not just an idea, it’s happened before.”

While his research can’t necessarily predict the future of the climate, it can show that there are meaningful impacts that climate change can produce. And it’s that deeper understanding of Earth’s history that really drives Shuman’s scientific interests.

“My favorite thing about [this research] is recognizing that the earth has been different in the past but that out there hidden in the landscape are all these clues as to how things have been before. I find it really amazing that I can go to a lake here in Wyoming, dig some material out of the ground and put together part of the story. Then I could go to somewhere in New England and see another piece of that story.”


“When we pull samples out of the ground, they have information that tells us about the way the world works. That’s very cool.”

By Manasseh Franklin


Friday, November 21, 2014

WyCEHG postdoc uses hydrogeophysics to understand aquifers

For Mine Dogan, a geophysical engineer and postdoctoral research scientist with the Wyoming Center for Environmental Hydrology andGeophysics (WyCEHG), math and physics are the gateway to understanding the universe.
          
“I believe there is nothing in the universe that we cannot understand and/or model using math and physics,” she says. “Mastering these two fields gives one not only the knowledge but also analytical thinking and problem solving skills.”

Mine installs a pressure transducer at
a field site in Mississippi
She explains, “I like the way these two fields can expand people's mind and provide new perspectives. Geophysics is not simply a tool that you can hit some buttons and get what you need. It is a field of science which requires knowing the theories, limitations, pros, and cons of each method.”
          
Dogan, who grew up in Turkey, developed her interest in math and physics at an early age and that interest led her down a path of varied research projects. She received her bachelors and masters of science degrees in geophysical engineering from Istanbul Technical University in Turkey, and her PhD in hydrogeophysics from Michigan State University.

She has worked as a geophysical engineer in coal mines in western Turkey, and contributed to research projects related to archaeogeophysics and earthquake engineering. Currently, her focus is on hydrogeophysics, particularly in regards to aquifers.

“As a geophysicist, I want to contribute to this growing field by introducing innovative approaches to collect and interpret the geophysical data needed to map the spatial and temporal changes in soil, aquifers, and surrounding material,” she says.

Mine (right) measures snow density at the
No Name watershed in the Snowy Mountains
Her recently published paper, “Predicting flow and transport in highly heterogeneous alluvial aquifers,” provides a solution to a long-standing challenge of modeling flow and transport in highly heterogeneous alluvial aquifers. She and her colleagues coupled novel characterization tools and stochastic methods to provide the solution, which they hope will make a big impact in understanding contaminants in aquifers and developing effective remediation schemes.

Cutting edge hydrological research like this exemplifies Dogan's long-term goals of “contributing to the deterministic aspects of hydrology by developing novel ways to collect, process, and interpret geophysical data.” She hopes that in doing so, she can “collaboratively provide solutions to hydrogeology-, groundwater remediation- and pollution-related problems.”

Collaboration with other scientists is a key reason she landed at the University of Wyoming nearly a year ago as a post-doctoral researcher with WyCEHG. She sought an interdisciplinary environment that would allow her the opportunity to collaborate with scientists across disciplines.

Not only does her passion for math and physics motivate her to push limits with her research, so does the potential future impacts of that research.

Says Dogan, “Being able to provide knowledge which will likely effect the lives of next generations is the mostimportant and satisfying aspect of my work.”

For more on Dogan's work, visit www.minedogan.com, and watch this short film http://vimeo.com/112085751.

By Manasseh Franklin