Monday, September 30, 2013

UW and CWC Students to Attend SACNAS Conference

On Wednesday, six students from the University of Wyoming and one student from Central Wyoming College will travel to San Antonio, Texas to attend the Society for Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) 2013 Conference.
Students will have the opportunity to listen to research presentations, network with other students and faculty members in their field, and visit over 300 exhibits covering research, graduate school, job opportunities and more.
“It’s an amazing conference with many networking opportunities and the opportunity to see what’s out there,” says Lisa Abeyta, Coordinator of Student Research Programs.
The goal of SACNAS and the 2013 Conference is to encourage students to work towards and achieve their goals of higher education and careers in STEM fields.

For more information about SACNAS and 2013 Conference, please visit

By Robin E. Rasmussen

Thursday, September 26, 2013

UW Student James St. Clair Gets a Chance to Study Abandoned Mines in Wyoming

As an intern at Lowham and Walsh, James St. Clair, a graduate student in the geology and geophysics department at the University of Wyoming, had the chance to visit and conduct research on abandoned land mines throughout the state of Wyoming.

James was responsible for analyzing and monitoring the safety of abandoned mines in Wyoming. This type of research is crucial to the state of Wyoming for several reasons.

“We want to know if these mines could possibly present some hazards in the future,” James says. “Whether those problems are related to groundwater, or future subsidence, or in some cases, they can actually open up at the surface. That’s dangerous, because people can get in there and it could collapse.”

James performed different tests at these sites to determine their safety and what was happening beneath the surface.

“I took electrical resistivity equipment up there and I made images of the underground mines trying to assess the hazards that they might present,” he says.

Because of the large number of abandoned mines in Wyoming, entities in the state have set up ways to study these mines.

“The Abandoned Land Mine Division of the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality has inventoried a substantial number of these land mines and prioritized them according to what’s there and how important it is that they get reclaimed,” James says. “My job was to go and visit several of these sites,” he says. “They had already been visited 10 years ago, so we wanted to see how they've changed since then.”

Most of the sites James visited were located in northeastern Wyoming. The location was James’ favorite part of his internship.

“I really liked getting to spend some time in Northeastern Wyoming,” he says. “It’s a really nice area.”

By Robin E. Rasmussen

Friday, September 20, 2013

Science: Becoming the Messenger Workshop a Huge Success

Dr. Scott Miller meets with workshop mentor Dan Agan to discuss his mock presentation
Last week, Wyoming EPSCoR and the National Science Foundation hosted the “Science: Becoming the Messenger” workshop. The workshop taught participants valuable communication skills, including interview techniques, social media tools, and presentation tips.
The workshop emphasized the importance of effective communication across a wide variety of platforms, including Twitter, blogs, and presentations.
“No matter what we do, we want to know where communication comes from, how it is used, and how it lets us do what we value,” said Elizabeth Traver, SSHL Manager.
For the participants, learning how to better their communication skills was a major benefit.
“The workshop was fantastic,” said Dr. Steve Holbrook. “Even for those of us who might have thought we were already pretty good communicators.”

Members of the WyCEHG and CI-WATER teams prepare for their presentations
The workshop took place over two days at the Wildcatter Suites in War Memorial Stadium at the University of Wyoming. During day one, participants received an intensive course in interview etiquette, what and what not to do during presentations, and the power of effective communication. The smaller group of participants in day two had the chance to use the skills they gained in day one to create and deliver mock presentations, practice interviews with journalists, and focus on developing strong communication foundations.

By Robin E. Rasmussen
Photos by Kali S. McCrackin

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

"Science: Becoming the Messenger" Workshop Happening September 11th and 12th

Tomorrow, September 11th, researchers, teachers, students, and other citizens from around the state of Wyoming will travel to Laramie for the National Science Foundation’s “Science: Becoming the Messenger” workshop.
This workshop is intended to help scientists learn how to effectively communicate their research to broad audiences.
Updates from the workshop will be posted to the Wyoming EPSCoR Facebook page and to the Wyoming EPSCoR Twitter feed. Please stay tuned to these social media sites for updates and more information!

For more information about this workshop, please visit our blog.

 By Robin Rasmussen

Research Experience for Undergraduates Leads Into Semester-Long Project

Sometimes, one positive experience is all it takes to decide on a future career path. For three students, the Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) at the University of Wyoming (UWY) was that experience.
The CI-WATER program, which ran through July and August, enticed Noll Roberts, a senior at UW, to contemplate a change of major. “My major is Molecular Biology, but now I’m switching to Mathematics,” he says.
This year’s REU focused on computer modeling, coding and hydrology.  For a month, Noll, Jingyu Li and Troy Axthelm collaborated on various aspects of modeling.
“Jingyu and I have been working on a project that’s been modeling the shade on a certain land plot,” says Troy, a senior at UW.
For Jingyu Li, a Laramie High School senior, the REU has given her a lot to think about.  “I’m not entirely sure what I want to do yet, but probably computer science and math,” she says.
Along with developing their coding and mathematical skills, the REU taught the importance of strong communication skills.
“I liked learning about how to interact with people in other departments," says Noll. "I think this REU was really good for that.”
While the REU has come the end, their work has not. Over the course of the next semester, Noll, Troy and Jingyu will receive upper division credit to continue their projects.
“We’re going to keep working on it so that it can work with the high performance computer and be efficient,” says Troy.

By Robin E. Rasmussen

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

WiMSE begins second year at UW

As the fall semester at the University of Wyoming begins, WiMSE (Women in Math, Science and Engineering) gears up for its second year of supporting women majoring in the STEM fields. WiMSE began last year as a way to connect female undergraduate and graduate students studying science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) following a survey that found women majoring in these fields at UW often lacked a sense of community. This year, WiMSE began with a luncheon focused on research. Four researchers from across campus shared their perspectives on the importance of participating in research as student as well as ideas and advice for doing so.
Across the board, the panelists said that research during an undergraduate career opens up possibilities for the future because it offers opportunities for preparation, discerning likes and dislikes in a field and gaining valuable experience.
“Don’t worry about messing up,” said Dr. Danny Dale, professor and current Head of the Physics and Astronomy Department. “Enjoy the struggle. That is where learning happens.”
Dr. Sarah Konrad, a glaciologist and currently the Associate Project Director at EPSCoR, agreed. “Don’t quit on something until you stop getting better,” she said. “Think about your goal for working on a project before you begin one.”
Dr. Andy Hansen, Associate Provost and professor of Mechanical Engineering, and Dr. Henry “Chip” Kobulnicky, professor in Physics and Astronomy, also participated on the panel.  
A complete schedule of this year’s WiMSE events can be found at: WiMSE is supported by the UW Women’s Center, the NASA Space Grant, Wyoming EPSCoR, the School of Energy Resources/Science Posse, INBRE, Engineering and SEO.

By Kali S. McCrackin