Summer 2017 Highlights

It’s been a busy summer of research, outreach, and a whole lot of writing! Some of the highlights from the past few months are below:

Research mentoring two high schoolers through the CU Summer Science Discovery Program.

My two mentees spent the month of July shadowing me and working on both some of my research projects and a mini-project of their own. We used Google Earth to map beaver dams across the country in various arid regions, we went to field sites in Boulder County weekly to watch some beaver dams being rebuilt after blowing out in spring snowmelt, and the students did a whole lot of background reading on the basic hydrology of beaver dams. The program culminated in a scientific poster presentation. My students used Google Cardboard headsets and 360 degree photos they’d taken at the field sites to help connect their audience to the research they presented – show, don’t tell! The students in this program were some seriously smart kids.

NAGT Earth Educator Rendezvous in Albuquerque, NM

I attended my first geoscience education conference this summer – the Earth Educator Rendezvous, organized by the National Association of Geoscience Teachers. Although I wasn’t presenting anything this year, it was an incredible learning experience. I participated in workshops on culture and place in geoscience, food and urban gardens, talking about controversial issues in a way that doesn’t just alienate people, and more. What stuck with me the most though, was how many other people there are out there who care so much about geoscience education.

Wrapping up the Nevada Beavers

For the first year of grad school, I spend a solid chunk of time figuring out what specific topic I actually wanted to study. I knew it would be ecohydrology, and I was 95% sure it would have to do with beavers, but beyond that there was a lot of trying out things and figuring out what did and didn’t work for me. During my second year, my advisor offered a class that opened my eyes to the capabilities of remote sensing on small spatial scales. It was like a switch flipped in my brain and I knew exactly what I would do my PhD work on – the water balance of beaver ponds. Particularly, evapotranspiration near the ponds. How were the ponds hydrologically linked to the surrounding riparian ecosystems? How did that relationship function in arid climates, during droughts, or when other water sources are scarce? I took off running head first into studying a network of beaver ponds in Nevada using remote sensing and modeling. And I’ve been working on it since! This summer, I finally got into the paper writing stage of the project – I have results, I’ve made conclusions, and I’m ready to share with the world. With any luck, the paper will be submitted for publication in the next month or so.


This is only a small sampling of the many cool things that were accomplished over the summer – if you want to know more feel free to drop me an email or shoot me a note via the contact page on this website!

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