Friday, June 6, 2014

University of Wyoming/Jackson State University Summer Field Course Wrap-Up

Two weeks ago, students from the University of Wyoming traveled to Jackson State University in Jackson, Mississippi to participate in the UW/JSU Summer Field Course, where they studied ecology, hydrology and geophysics. Throughout the course, students got to work with instructors from the University of Wyoming and Jackson State University, both in the lab and in the field.

Students collect field data
“My favorite part of the course was having a hands-on experience,” says Dominique Williams, a senior at JSU, and a course participant. “It’s quite different, getting your hands on something instead of just reading about it in books.”

Students in the course learned how to collect data using geophysics tools, including seismic and resistivity equipment, to create an image of what’s underground. This hands-on experience makes this course unique and challenging, and gives students an in-depth look at how research is done.
“We made several trips to Eagle Lake, in Vicksburg Mississippi, to run a series of tests with different equipment, which was awesome!” says Dominique. “When we came in from the field we went straight into the labs and ran data analysis on the data that we had collected throughout the day.”

Dominique is studying Civil Engineering and plans to continue her education after she completes her undergraduate degree.

“After graduation I plan on going to graduate school to get my masters,” she says. “My long-term goal would be to find a great civil engineering company and to grow in my field of study.”

 Last year, participants from JSU traveled to Laramie, WY for the Summer Field Course. The vast difference in climate and landscape makes this course a unique learning experience for all participants.

“This year’s course at JSU continued an important collaboration in ecology, hydrology and geophysics between UW and JSU,” says Dr. Steve Holbrook, a professor in the Department of Geology and Geophysics at the University of Wyoming. Dr. Holbrook traveled to JSU as an instructor for the course.

“Much of our work focused on determining the structure and ecological function around an important levee in the lower Mississippi River valley, called Buck Chute. For that work, we established a new collaboration with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Vicksburg, MS. Using geophysics, we were able to image a sandy aquifer that runs beneath the levee – which sources dangerous ‘sand boils’ that can undermine the levee during flood stages of the river.”
Dr. Steve Holbrook prepares students

Overall, students and professors enjoyed this year’s field course.  

“I would definitely recommend this course to any and everyone!” says Dominique. “This course offers so much that I wish it was longer!”

"All aspects of the course were successful," Dr. Holbrook says. "I think the students learned a lot and, once again, friendships were forged between UW and JSU students."

By Robin Rasmussen
Photos by Liz Nysson

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