Wednesday, May 28, 2014

"Voices of the River"

For Jeff Santos, integrating his love of live sound and recording with his interest in hydrology is an easy combination.

“I’m recording a sound profile for different streams,” says Jeff. “I love being outdoors and sitting next to rivers.”

Jeff, a Wyoming EPSCoR Undergraduate Research Fellow, is studying the sounds of rivers and streams, analyzing data and working to find a correlation between the sounds of the water with the amount of flowing water. Since October 2013, Jeff has been collecting soundbytes and data on 4 rivers in the Laramie area.

 “My hope for this is to record these sounds of the rivers, these ‘voices of the rivers’ and see if there is a correlation between stream flow, or the volume of water in the river, and the pitch, amplitude and frequency of the sound the river gives off.”

To collect his data, Jeff rigs up a microphone to catch the sounds of the river.

“I take a stereo microphone and put it perpendicular to the stream,” Jeff says. “Then, I suspend it with a pulley system, so that I get the same section of water each time.”

Jeff Santos preparing to collect data
After he collects the sound, he analyzes it and compares his findings to other data to identify any correlation.

“After I collect the sound, I take it and put it through Waveform analysis software and filter out the background noise,” Jeff says. “Then, I compare those soundwaves to each of the times that I have recordings and see if the frequency, amplitude and pitch change in a specific pattern that I can compare to the stream flow measurements that are currently being done on that specific stream.”

After he completes his research, Jeff hopes to turn his findings into an interactive touchscreen display that he can take to conferences. He enjoys bringing the sounds of the rivers to others who may not have access to them.

“I’d like to make it mobile and create a sound dome, so that you have an isolation of sound and then you can interact with the screen,” says Jeff. “Then you can download the sounds from the website onto your computer or smartphone. Everyone can get the sounds.”

Jeff was recently awarded the Haub School Grant for Student Research and Creative Activities. This award will allow to Jeff to continue to focus on his research project as he continues his education.

By Robin Rasmussen
Photos courtesy of Jeff Santos

Thursday, May 15, 2014

University of Wyoming and Jackson State University Students Study Ecohydrogeophysics in Mississippi

Rain could not stop University of Wyoming and Jackson State University students from going into the field Wednesday. Although Mississippi isn’t known for cold temperatures in May, wet weather came in mid-week to chill and soak students working in an area called Buck Chute, north of Vicksburg and near the Yazoo River in Mississippi.  Despite the elements, the field work continued, and smiling faces still peeked through shrouded raincoat hoods as students used geophysics tools to better understand what lies beneath their feet in a lush green wetlands enclosed by an important levee system.

“I was very impressed by all our students,” said Dr. Ezat Heydari with a grin. Dr. Heydari is a professor in the Department of Physics, Atmospheric Sciences, and Geoscience at Jackson State University, and an important partner to the Wyoming Center for Environmental Hydrology and Geophysics (WyCEHG) for the Ecohydrogeophysics Field Course and educational exchange between UW and JSU.

Professor Steve Holbrook instructs students placing
geophysics equipment in an area called
Buck Chute in Mississippi
The day before the rain, students learned how to use the seismic and resistivity equipment in a large yard on the Jackson State Campus in bright 80 degree weather. This equipment allows scientists to “see” what is underground and help answer important questions about the properties of the earth. Although the two days were different by way of conditions, students felt the exercise was very interesting and didn’t mind getting a little wet in the field.

“I really liked using the seismic equipment and then seeing the data in the computer lab later,” said Naomi, a senior at Jackson State.

This is the second year for the Ecohydrogeophysics Field Course. Last year, students from JSU came to Wyoming, and this year UW students left on May 10th for Mississippi. The two week course is made up of Ecology, Hydrology, and Geophysics sessions and field experience.

By Elizabeth Nysson
Photo by Elizabeth Nysson

Friday, May 9, 2014

University of Wyoming Student Inducted into Phi Beta Kappa

What do Eli Whitney, Peyton Manning, Walter Lippman, and Alexander Graham Bell have in common? These four, and many others, are members of Phi Beta Kappa, known as “The nation’s oldest and most widely known academic honor society.”

Among these outstanding individuals is recent inductee, Callie Berman, a student at the University of Wyoming. Callie is a senior, majoring in Geology, International Studies, Environmental and Natural Resources and minoring in Spanish.

Callie’s dedication and diverse range of study will help her immensely as she integrates various fields to pursue her interests and achieve her goals.

Callie (standing) conducting
 field research
“I am interested in the interaction of environmental and human systems and specifically having a background rooted in both a technical and social science to bring both perspectives to the complex challenges facing communities on a global scale,” says Callie. “In particular, I am interested in energy extraction and sustainability issues as well as environmental refugee issues.”

Callie was a Wyoming EPSCoR Fellow in the spring and summer of 2013, studying something that has always interested her: water.

“I worked with hydrologist Dr. Scott Miller and his Spatial Analysis for Watershed & Landscape Systems Group,” says Callie. “I investigated water fate and transport mechanisms in the Snowy Mountain Range outside of Laramie to not only understand how these dynamics work, but to also gain an insight into how this resource is managed on a local and state-wide scale.”

After Callie graduates in May 2015, she plans to further her education, both in and out of the classroom.

“After subduing my craving for wanderlust by hiking the Continental Divide Trail,” says Callie, “I would love to work for a private intelligence/security agency as a policy analyst for a few years, before returning to the academic world for a PhD.”

As a member of Phi Beta Kappa, Callie has a bright future ahead of her, and a leg up on her competition.

As a member of Phi Beta Kappa, Callie is in good company.  Five of Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People are members of Phi Beta Kappa. 17 U.S. presidents and 38 U.S. Supreme Court Justices are counted among Phi Beta Kappa members.

According to the Phi Beta Kappa website, “The ideal Phi Beta Kappa must have demonstrated intellectual integrity, tolerance for other views, and a broad range of interests. Each year, about one college senior a hundred, nationwide, is invited to join Phi Beta Kappa. Acceptance into the society marks sustained excellence in leadership, academics and research over several years.”

By Robin Rasmussen
Photo courtesy of Callie Berman