Monday, November 25, 2013

PhD student Jorden Hayes and geophysical imaging

As a child, Jorden Hayes, a doctoral student in the Department of Geology and Geophysics, enjoyed science and geology, but she did not realize the depth of her passion until she was an undergraduate studying Television Communications with the goal of becoming a meteorologist. Soon, she realized how much she enjoyed math and geology, and eventually switched her major to geophysics.

Today, Jorden’s passion has led her to WyCEHG at the University of Wyoming to pursue her PhD under the advisement of Dr. SteveHolbrook. Her research revolves around creating geophysical images of subsurface environments. Creating these images will help researchers estimate how much water is stored in the subsurface and help them better understand the processes happening underground.

Jorden Hayes
“These images help scientists interpret geological processes such as weathering, water storage, and flow,” says Jorden. “Understanding these processes is critical to improving water management and predicting how climate change will impact our future water resources.”

The first step to create a seismic image involves hitting a metal plate with a sledgehammer. The energy from this action is then sent into the earth and picked up by a line of geophones, which are instruments used to measure ground motion.

“That gives you seismic traces,” says Jorden. “The next step is to take it to the lab and do an initial analysis of the data. Finally, you take and model that data, which, in my case, involves using the Yellowstone Supercomputer.”

After data in the field is collected, the final data analysis and modeling can take up to weeks or months.

Jorden’s research is an integral part of WyCEHG and its mission.

“One of the goals of WyCEHG is to advance innovations in near-surface geophysical methodology,” she says. Jorden’s work will allow WyCEHG to better reach their goal of understanding subsurface environments.

Jorden has learned a lot about her chosen field through her experience with WyCEHG, but that isn’t all she’s gained.

“How to integrate science across disciplines would probably be the biggest thing I’ve gained,” she says. “The fact that I’ve been sitting down with hydrologists, ecologists, and people that study isotopes, I’ve learned a lot about how to interact, how to ask questions, and how to learn.”

Jorden enjoys her research, and views science in a way many non-scientists don’t.

 “Science is way more creative than some realize,” she says. “From designing experiments and surveys to making interpretations, creativity abounds. Also, scientific discovery is incredibility motivating and rewarding.”

For other students in STEM fields, Jorden offers helpful advice.

“Don’t be afraid to ask questions, never stop learning and get your hands dirty,” she says. “Start there and find people and mentors who are going to encourage you along the way.”

By Robin Rasmussen
Photo courtesy of Jorden Hayes

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Communicating About Water Essay Contest

Wyoming EPSCoR is hosting an essay contest for undergraduate and graduate students at the University of Wyoming and Wyoming community colleges. This contest is through the Communicating About Water Program, which is intended to increase awareness and dialogue about water issues throughout the state.  EPSCoR has teamed up with the Wyoming Center for Environmental Hydrology and Geophysics (WyCEHG) and the Creative Writing MFA Program to invite students to join in the ever-growing discussion about water in the state of Wyoming. “This writing contest is intended to increase discussion and awareness about water issues among Wyoming students,” says Liz Nysson, project coordinator.
The contest will feature two categories, undergraduate and graduate non-fiction essay. Entries in the undergraduate division must be 500-2000 words, and entries in the graduate division must be 1000-5000 words.
The top prize in each category will be $500, publication in an anthology for all award winners and honorable mentions, and other honors, including a public reading.
Entries can range in a variety of topics related to water. EPSCoR encourages students to explore water issues in any way that is relevant to their lives, studies, or personal experiences.
The deadline for the essay contest is March 21st, 2014. Submissions can be sent to Submissions must be in the form of a word document with 12-point font and double-spaced. They must also include a cover page with the essay title, your name, year in school, W-number and contact information. For more information about the writing contest, please visit our website

By Robin Rasmussen

Friday, November 8, 2013

CI-WATER Project Insights: ADHydro

When it comes to water management, knowing how water moves and where it ends up is crucial. That’s why a team of CI-WATER researchers are working on a new model, called ADHydro.

ADHydro will be the most robust model of its kind, presenting high-resolution detail for a broad geographical area. It will enable researchers to more accurately measure how fast water soaks through the soil, how fast the water flows over land and more. With these calculations, researchers can determine where the water goes and how it gets there.

“ADHydro is physics-based, meaning that it simulates specific physical processes as opposed to a curve-fitting model that can be calibrated to match historical data, but doesn’t simulate specific physics processes,” says Dr. Robert Steinke, a software engineer on the interdisciplinary team developing the model.

“It’s important to CI-WATER because one of the goals of CI-WATER is to allow watershed managers in the field access to high performance computing resources,” says Robert.

The ADHydro model is set for initial deployment next year. The completed model will give researchers the tools they need to study water movement in the field, ultimately helping water managers better understand this essential resource. 

By Robin E. Rasmussen