Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The science behind the Olympics

Dr. Sarah Konrad talks with NBC Producer Kaleb Medders

When it comes to the Olympics, images of star athletes, fierce competition and epic wins come to mind, but what about science? While it may be the last thing most people think about, science is deeply embedded in the Games. It explains how the half-pipe works, how an ice skate skims across the ice and why some snow conditions are faster than others
 As the 2014 Olympic winter games in Sochi, Russia draw near, NBC is gearing up to not only talk about the athletes, but also to explore the science behind the Games. On Tuesday, August 27, an NBC film crew visited Laramie, Wyoming to talk with Olympian Sarah Konrad, Wyoming EPSCoR’s Associate Project Director. Konrad competed in Biathlon and Cross-Country skiing in the 2006 Turin, Italy and is currently the chair of the US Olympic Committee’s Athletic Advisory Council. Athletics, however, isn’t Konrad’s only area of expertise. She is also a scientist, with a doctorate in geology and a specialization in glaciology. Her knowledge of glaciology helps her understand the snow conditions and what to expect when she begins a race.
NBC interviewed Konrad about her experience in the Olympics and racing, but also about snow, how it is formed, what factors influence it and how artificial snow is made. This interview will be part of an NBC Learn series about the Olympics and science, which will be available online to the public before the Olympics begin. More science videos can be found on the NBC Learn website

By Kali S. McCrackin
Photo by Kali S. McCrackin

Monday, August 19, 2013

"Science: Becoming the Messenger" workshop to be hosted at the University of Wyoming

Turning complicated research into information a broad audience can understand is nothing short of a challenge. Research can contain scientific terminology and complex processes second nature to a scientist, but convoluted to someone outside that scientific field.
To address the difficulty of presenting research to a broad audience, the National Science Foundation will host a workshop called “Science: Becoming the Messenger” on September 11th and 12th at the University of Wyoming. The workshop will feature presentations on social media, video, interviews, and more. The goal of this workshop is to help scientists develop the skills necessary for communicating one’s research to a general audience.
According to the National Science Foundation website, day one of the workshop “equips attendees with the fundamental skills needed to plan, create, and execute effective communications,” and day two “focuses on applying the skills and knowledge gained on day one.”
The workshop will take place at the University of Wyoming in the Wildcatter Suites and is open to UW faculty, researchers, students across the state of Wyoming, and scientific partners. Although the workshop is free, participants must register online through the National Science Foundation.
If you have any questions regarding this workshop, please contact Beth Cable at (307) 766-3544 or  
By Robin E. Rasmussen

Monday, August 12, 2013

EPSCoR Welcomes Liz Nysson, Education, Outreach, and Diversity Coordinator

Wyoming EPSCoR is happy to welcome Liz Nysson, the new Education, Outreach, and Diversity (EOD) Project Coordinator for the EPSCoR Research Infrastructure and Improvement Program Track One (RII Track-1).

Liz and her dog Shelby
Originally from Grand Rapids, Michigan, Liz attended the University of Wyoming, earning a Bachelor’s of Arts in Humanities & Fine Arts and Women’s Studies, with a minor in Environmental Natural Resources in 2006. After graduating, Liz moved to Missoula, Montana where she worked as an AmeriCorps Team Leader in the Office for Civic Engagement. After finishing her AmeriCorps term, Liz went back to school to earn her Masters of Science in Environmental Policy and Planning at the University of Michigan. After grad school, Liz held a Wyss Fellowship at the Oregon Natural Desert Association in Bend, Oregon to work for a non-profit organization. For Liz, coming back to Laramie is an exciting opportunity and she is very happy to be working for EPSCoR.

 “I was familiar with EPSCoR, and I knew about the projects it had created in the past.  I knew EPSCoR was a program with a lot of success and support from not only the National Science Foundation, but also from the University and the state.”
Liz enjoys her work, and she also strongly believes in the program.
“EPSCoR does so much to support student research opportunities. It is so important to have a program on campus to facilitate and champion undergraduate research,” she says. “As an undergrad, it’s often difficult to find research opportunities. By enabling these opportunities, EPSCoR helps students build their knowledge and work skills, and also improves science education at the University of Wyoming."
As the EOD Coordinator, Liz is in charge of coordination efforts and facilitating different aspects of EPSCoR and its programs.
“You can think of my job as being broken down into three parts,” she says.  “This includes external engagement, workforce development, and diversity.”
Because her position is tied to the RII Track-1 grant, which created the new Wyoming Center for Hydrology and Geophysics (WyCEHG), Liz’s responsibilities are concurrently focused on supporting the establishment of a lasting center of excellence in environmental hydrology and geophysics to support and improve science and watershed management in Wyoming.
In the future, Liz hopes to expand the resources and networks available to students and educators across the state of Wyoming, and to encourage students from underrepresented groups to enter into and stay engaged in science, technology, engineering, and mathematic s fields.

By: Robin Rasmussen
Photo Courtesy of Liz Nysson