Friday, January 25, 2013

EarthCube Workshop Summary

This week, the National Science Foundation, in conjunction with Critical Zone researchers organized the EarthCube Workshop: Engaging the Critical Zone Community to Bridge Long Tail Science with Big Data. The workshop focused on data integration and how it can help scientists working in geology, hydrology, biology, ecology and other Earth Sciences in their work to better understand the Critical Zone. The Critical Zone is the area around the Earth's surface, from the upper edge of bedrock to the top canopy of vegetation. This is where water circulates and it is essential to life on Earth.

One of the Critical Zone researchers who helped organize the workshop is Dr. Tarboton, who is also a co-Principle Investigator (PI) for the CI-WATER EPSCoR grant and a professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering  at Utah State University.

“Highlights from this workshop included the presentation by Sue Brantley that examined the variety of data types present from critical zone studies and identified progress in the cyberinfrastructure systems that make this data available and accessible,” Dr. Tarboton said in an email correspondence.  “Another good talk was by Roy Haggerty who spoke of the need to shed light on "dark data", data that is buried in the files of researchers, often in paper form, and inaccessible to others, and in danger of being lost when the scientist involved retires.”

By Kali S. McCrackin

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Wrapped up in SRAP: Wyoming EPSCoR's Summer Research Apprentice Program Coordinator

 Earlier this fall we started a series of blogs about the EPSCoR office. The follow is part three of the series and focuses on SRAP Coordinator Lisa Abeyta. 

Lisa Abeyta, SRAP Coordinator
The Summer Research Apprentices Program (SRAP) is one of Wyoming EPSCoR’s longest and most well-known outreach programs. SRAP Coordinator, Lisa Abeyta, has an attachment to the program, not only because of the opportunities it offers high school students, but also because six years ago, she was a student in the program.
“It’s a different side of things being the coordinator because I was a student, then I was a staff member and now I’m planning everything,” Lisa says. “It’s kind of cool that I get to see that third aspect.”
Lisa had already been accepted to the University of Wyoming when she participated in the program. She worked in the Botany Department under Dr. Steve Jackson and with then post-doc Tom Minckley during her seven week stay (Minckley is now an associate professor and mentors a SRAP student every summer). While scientifically Lisa focused on comparing vegetation in two lakes by studying lake cores, personally it was the beginning of life away from home.
“SRAP was a transition stage for me so I could get my homesickness out of the way,” Lisa says. “I’m very close to my family.”
Despite her closeness with her family, Lisa wanted to go to college away from her hometown of Denver. She was a first-generation college-bound student and it had always been one of her dreams to go to a state university. She decided that moving away from home would help her stay motivated and focused on her studies.
“I needed a change of scenery,” Lisa said.
For many participants in the program, this is a familiar situation and one of the goals of SRAP is to help future college-bound students transition from high school to university. While students may not end up going into the specific field they work in during the program, they still gain valuable research experience as well as experience living on a college campus.
For Lisa, her experience in SRAP gave her a step-up for beginning a successful college career.  She began her undergraduate degree as a nursing major before switching to psychology.
“When I took psychology 1,000, I was just so intrigued by the brain and that’s just what kept me going,” Lisa says. “I didn’t want to do clinical. I wanted to learn about people and how they act and why they act the way they do. There is a social aspect of it and that’s what really drew me in.”
For two years of her undergraduate experience, Lisa worked as a SRAP staff member helping high school students through their own transition stages. Last year, Lisa took over the coordinator position and loves the new experiences it has offered.
“I like knowing all the students’ names before I meet them and then when I meet them I get to guess who they are,” Lisa says. “And it’s so nice to just finally see them, finally meet them after having their paperwork for three months.”
Lisa’s energy, creativity and multi-angle perspective about the program really bring it to life and help students feel comfortable connecting with each other and with their mentors. The program aims to build community, and Lisa plans activities that bring each SRAP group together.
“I really believe in this program,” Lisa says. “I really believe that what we have to offer can really benefit students and their families. Once a student comes through the program, I’m always available.”
Outside SRAP and EPSCoR, Lisa enjoys spending time outdoors. In the summer she likes to bike around Laramie or spend time fishing, camping and hiking in the Snowy Range Mountains and at Vedauwoo.  

By Kali S. McCrackin
Photo by Leah Yetter

Thursday, January 10, 2013

A look into 2013

Welcome back to Wyoming EPSCoR’s blog and Happy New Year! Last year was a great year for us and we are excited to begin another science-filled, event-packed and water oriented 2013.
Right now we are in the midst of work on both our Track I and Track II grants. Our Track I grant, WyCEHG, began at the end of last summer and while we are still in the process of equipment acquisition, the science is well underway. This spring we look forward to sharing some of this science with you!
This month marks the almost half-way point for our three year Track II grant, CI-WATER. This year we are looking forward to more water science and modeling, but also to workshops, outreach and conferences. Research on the grant has taken off the last few months and we’re thrilled to be sharing some of the findings at the Second Annual CI-WATER Symposium in May.
In addition to new events, our regular programs will continue. Here is a brief calendar for our year ahead. We hope you’ll be able to join us at our events and we’re happy to have you with us.

            Toolbox pilot January 19
This is our outreach event of the year. Last fall, CI-WATER worked hard to put together water science toolboxes for K-12 schools. On January 19th one of these toolboxes will be demonstrated in Salt Lake City, UT.

Second Annual CI-WATER Symposium May 29-30
Our first CI-WATER Symposium was in September 2012. It was a great time for collaboration and the sharing of information. During our second symposium we hope to continue in this vein but move our focus slightly to the topic of modeling, water and the future.
Teacher Workshop June 24-28
One of the goals of our CI-WATER grant is outreach and education. This summer CI-WATER is offering a workshop for Wyoming and Utah teachers about teaching water science. It will be held in Salt Lake City, UT. We will have more information about the workshop and registration soon! Look for it on the CI-WATER Facebook and website.

Toolboxes in Action July 9-11
CI-WATER toolboxes will be in use at the GEAR-UP camp this summer in Laramie, WY. GEAR-UP is a state program that helps pre-college students prepare for university. The program is open for 7th-12th graders. More information can be found at:

            Student Workshop July 22-26
In compliment to the teacher workshop, CI-WATER is offering an upper undergraduate and graduate student workshop. Details about this workshop are still being negotiated, but the premise will be water science and modeling. We will have more information in the coming month on Facebook and the CI-WATER website.

            Equipment is coming in!
WyCEHG stands for the Wyoming Center for Environmental Hydrology and Geophysics. Along with research on water in Wyoming, the grant is creating a center full of equipment to be used at the University of Wyoming. The equipment is arriving and we are thrilled to start using it!

            Monthly brown bag lunch January-May
Starting at the end of January, the WyCEHG group will hold monthly brown bag luncheons and share their current research and projects. These luncheons are open to the public and we encourage you to come! We’ll post the time and place on our Facebook and Twitter the week of the luncheon.

Regular Happenings/Student Research
The University of Wyoming Women’s Center will continue their Women in Math, Science and Engineering (WiMSE) speaker series beginning January 30th. In collaboration, Wyoming EPSCoR will continue to write their Women in Science blog series with each WiMSE event.  We hope to see you there! More information about the Women’s Center and WiMSE can be found at:
            SACNAS/ASIES Lunch January 18
This fall, EPSCoR attended the SACNAS and AISES conferences with students from the University of Wyoming and from the Wind River Reservation. Next week, these students will share their experiences from the conferences and discuss the possibility of setting up a SACNAS/AISES chapter at UW. The lunch is scheduled for 12-1:30 in the Senate Chambers at the Wyoming Union January 18th. Please RSVP to

Proposal workshop February 5
Wyoming EPSCoR is offering a proposal writing workshop for undergraduate students. The goal of the workshop is to help students write proposals for research, including for EPSCoR’s Undergraduate Research Fellowships. We will provide more information in the coming weeks on Facebook and the Wyoming EPSCoR website.

Undergraduate Research Fellowships Applications March 8
Applications for EPSCoR’s Undergraduate Research Fellowships for the Summer 2013 are due March 8th.  These paid fellowships are a great opportunity for students in the science fields to gain valuable research experience and work with faculty at UW. More information about the fellowships can be found at: Applications for the Summer 2013 will be posted soon.

Undergraduate Research Day April 27
This year will be the 14th annual Undergraduate Research Day. Undergraduate Research Day is a celebration and presentation of the amazing research conducted by UW undergraduates in science and social science fields. Students, including EPSCoR’s Research Fellows, give oral presentations of their work followed by a question-and-answer session. Last year we had almost 350 presentations and we are looking forward to another successful year. Registration opens in February. More information can be found at:
SRAP June 9-July 19
The Student Research Apprenticeship Program is one of our oldest and most popular programs. Since 1985, high school students have been coming to UW to work on research with UW faculty and graduate students. Each student is paired with a mentor for the six week program and works on their own science research project which culminates in a presentation. Applications and information about the program can be found at:

Conferences of Interest
            EarthCube Domain End Use Workshop January 21-23
The National Science Foundation sponsors several workshops, include the EarthCubeDomain Workshops. Of possible interest is the EarthCube Domain Workshop: Engaging the Critical Zone community to bridge long tail science with big data in Newark, DE at the University of Delaware. The goal of the workshop is to look at the integration of data from across Earth-science disciplines and to set guidelines for such integration. Registration for virtual participants is still open and can be found at:

Western Snow Conference April 15-18
This year is the 81st annual Western Snow Conference. It will take place in Jackson Hole, WY and will feature panel discussions, presentations and a tour of the natural resource management facilities in the area. The deadline for the first call for paper abstract submissions is January 15th. More information is available at:

            Climate Prediction Applications Science Workshop April 23-25
The 11th annual Climate Prediction Applications Science Workshop (CPASW) will take place in Logan, UT this year. This workshop will provide a great opportunity for collaboration and knowledge sharing among researchers, developers and decision-makers of climate data and information. January 15th is the submission date for abstracts. More information is available at:

Have a great New Year! 

By Kali S. McCrackin