Wednesday, July 10, 2013

SRAP Student Spotlight: Griffin and Mapping Regional Isotopes

SRAPer: Griffin Gilmore
Home State: California
Grade in School: Senior
Plans after high school: Attend Air force Academy, if possible, and major in either astrophysics or astronomy


Griffin takes down field notes
Energy and curiosity are key ingredients when it comes to being a scientist and Griffin Gilmore has plenty of both. While the planning stages of a project often lack the excitement of the implementation stage, Griffin is enthusiastic about all aspect of his project, planning included. He knows exactly what he wants to accomplish and how to reach that goal.

“My SRAP project is about taking samples of isotopes from the Laramie River and Crow Creek watershed,” Griffin explains. “Then, from those samples, we can make an isoscape, which is a map of the isotopes within a region so that we better understand how water flows throughout the area.”

This project is part of the larger WyCEHG project, focused on understanding Wyoming water systems. Griffin’s work will contribute to the knowledge WyCEHG is working towards and plays an important role in understanding the relationship between ground water, sub-surface water and precipitation.

Griffin is working with Dr. Scott Miller, a spatial processes hydrologist at the University of Wyoming and co-principal investigator for WyCEHG. Dr. Miller is enthusiastic about the project, because it is centered on a new way of approaching water science.

“Griffin is working on an emerging kind of water science at UW,” says Dr. Miller. “His research is the first attempt at using isotopes to understand how water changes downriver in these systems. Griffin has come up with a very clever project and his research will be beneficial to the WyCEHG project. It’s terrific to have a high school student contribute to fundamental science.”

While Griffin is still getting everything ready and preparing for several days of field work, he is most looking forward to the analysis process in the Stable Isotope Lab.
Griffin takes a measurement at one WyCEHG site
“I’m really going to enjoy the in-lab work,” Griffin says. “I like anything about chemistry, isotopes included.”

In addition to chemistry, Griffin likes physics and astronomy.

“Ever since a young age I’ve been fascinated with astronomy and there’s a lot of physics within astronomy,” Griffin says.

Griffin’s love of astronomy and physics is what makes the Air force Academy appealing with its strong astrophysics program. No matter where he decides to go for college, however, Griffin is ready for starting a career in science.

“I think SRAP is a great opportunity,” Griffin says. “It’s great for college and great for getting experience in the science fields.”
SRAP is a six-week intensive research program based at the University of Wyoming and sponsored by Wyoming EPSCoR.
By  Kali S. McCrackin
Photos by Robin E. Rasmussen and Kali S. McCrackin

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