UAH accepted into cooperative institute

Earth System Science Center

UAH has been accepted as a member of the NOAA-supported Cooperative Institute for Climate and Satellites (CICS), which could open research and funding opportunities for researchers in UAH's Earth System Science Center.

CICS connects researchers at 19 affiliated institutions with NOAA and two of its centers, the National Center for Weather and Climate Prediction and the National Climatic Data Center. NOAA expects to spend $93 million over the next five years to support existing CICS research programs.

ESSC Director Dr. John Christy said the cooperative institute is a vehicle designed to make it easier for federal agencies to work with university researchers.


Deaf SMAP research assistant guides students in more than technology

Steven Forney

Student employees at the UAH Systems Management and Production (SMAP) Center need to learn another language to work on unmanned aerial vehicle technologies with 30-year-old research associate Steven Forney.

That's because Forney has been deaf since birth. Though he received cochlear implants in his 20s, American Sign Language (ASL) is his primary form of communication. Working alongside Forney, students learn ASL as well as the technical aspects of their jobs.

"The longer they work with me, the faster they learn American Sign Language," Forney says. "The challenging part is that every semester, there will always be new students coming in, and sometimes they will be 'speechless' when they meet me for the first time.

"I always remind them that there are other ways to communicate with me by using dry eraser white board, notes, tablet and learning ASL," he says.

Forney also encourages students to participate in a Deaf Day in which they wear earplugs to experience being deaf. "After this experience, they are better able to understand what it feels like to be in my shoes."



Students prep for Space Weather Summer Camp trip to Germany


Eight students from UAH are learning rudimentary German language and culture this week in preparation for a Joint Space Weather Summer Camp (JSWSC) with students from that country. The UAH student campers are Samer Al-Nussirat, Chris Parker, William Dent, Sasha Mujica, Douglas Simpson, Phyllis Whittlesey, Amber Williams and Robert Hicks. Accompanying the students are Veronica Belser and Dr. Peter Hunana, both of the UAH Center for Space Plasma and Aeronomic Research (CSPAR). "I'm really excited about going to the space weather observatory in Neustrelitz," says Dent, a senior physics major from Huntsville. "I'm hoping to get firsthand knowledge of how space and weather observations are made."


Successful Prometheus rocket launch prompts UAH celebration


The successful June 21 launch of Prometheus, a Charger Rocket Works student-built rocket, was celebrated by the UAH Propulsion Research Center with a barbecue dinner Monday, June 30, at Johnson Research Center on campus.

University officials on hand for the event included UAH Provost Dr. Christine Curtis and UAH College of Engineering Dean Dr. Shankar Mahalingam.

After persevering to overcome an earlier design problem, the Prometheus team shot the spacecraft 16,000 feet into an intermittently stormy sky at a sod farm near Manchester, Tenn., at Southern Thunder 2014. Co-hosted by the Music City Missile Club (MC2) and the Huntsville Area Rocketry Association (HARA), Southern Thunder is the largest rocketry event in the Southeastern United States.

The rocket carried two operational payloads. The first, a pitot tube probe, measured air pressures and velocity. The second, a data acquisition package, tracked vehicle speed and orientation with instruments including a gyroscope.


Now in use, UAH-invented smart pill bottle gets second patent


AdhereTech and UAH have been awarded a second U.S. patent for the smart pill bottle that was invented at the university and is being commercialized by the company.

Already in use by patients, AdhereTech's smart pill bottle automatically measures if patients have taken their medication. Data is wirelessly sent from the bottles to AdhereTech servers, where it is analyzed in real-time. If a dose is missed, AdhereTech reminds the patient via automated phone call or text message - as well as on-bottle lights and chimes.

Additionally, if the system notices prolonged non-adherence, it can solicit feedback from a patient via text or phone call, asking why the dose was missed. Patient responses can either be stored or routed to live case managers for immediate intervention. For example, if a patient is not taking medication due to intense side effects, AdhereTech can gather this information within the first few days of treatment, as opposed to the patient's next appointment.


Doctoral student will use speedy computer for solar wind research

Matthew Bedford

A student at UAH Center for Space Plasma and Aeronomic Research (CSPAR) will research solar wind using the Cray Blue Waters supercomputer at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign for the 2014-2015 scholastic year.

Matthew Bedford, a third-year doctoral student at CSPAR, has been awarded a Blue Waters Graduate Fellowship. He will model the interaction of the solar wind with the local interstellar medium using a new multi-ion model of the solar wind.

Bedford will receive a stipend of $38,000, a tuition allowance of up to $12,000 and an allocation of up to 50,000 node hours on the Blue Waters system. Bedford's advisor is Dr. Nikolai Pogorelov, a professor in the UAH Department of Space Science with whom he has been working to model properties of solar wind ("Modeling Solar Wind Flow with the Multi-Scale Fluid-Kinetic Simulation Suite;" Pogorelov, N. V.; Borovikov, S. N.; Bedford, M. C.; Heerikhuisen, J.; Kim, T. K.; Kryukov, I. A.; Zank, G. P., in Numerical Modeling of Space Plasma Flows, San Francisco: Astronomical Society of the Pacific Conf. Ser. 474, 2013, p 165).



UAH Space Hardware Club teams place highly at CanSat competition


Two student CanSat teams from The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) finished third and seventh last weekend at the 2014 International CanSat competition in Burkett, Texas.

The wins made UAH the leading team overall that was competing from the United States, besting 13 other U.S. college and university teams. UAH's Team Wind Charger won third place, while Team Blackout took seventh place. Over 30 international teams also participated in the competition.

The UAH CanSat teams are primarily composed of freshman and sophomore engineering and science students at the university as part of UAH's Space Hardware Club. The teams faced competition from senior design students at most other colleges and universities entered at CanSat.


UAH climate researcher to speak at climate change conference

Dr. Roy Spencer

Dr. Roy Spencer, principal research scientist at the UAH Earth System Science Center, will speak on climate change and the hydrosphere as part of the science track at The Heartland Institute's 9th International Conference on Climate Change at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas July 7–9.

The conference, billed as the "World's Biggest Gathering of 'Skeptic' Scientists and Policy Experts," will host hundreds of the most prominent skeptics of the claim that human activity is causing a climate crisis. They will review the latest climate research and publicly discuss the policy implications of government energy and environmental policies.

"I'll be talking about how small changes in the ocean circulation can cause natural periods of global warming or cooling, and that we really don't know how much of recent warming was due to this natural process," says Dr. Spencer, who doesn't mind the role of skeptic.


Student researchers in Panama are studying water resources

Panama Studies

How do climate change, population change and economic factors affect water resources in Panama?

Seven students from a variety of disciplines at UAH are spending two weeks in Panama doing cross-disciplinary field research on sustainability and climate change to help answer that question.

The students arrived Sunday, June 8, escorted by UAH Earth Systems Science Center Research Associate Eric Anderson. On Thursday, June 12, Dr. Rob Griffin, assistant professor of atmospheric science, and Dr. Kyle Knight, assistant professor of sociology, will join them.

"We'll be going to a couple of small communities in the highlands," says Dr. Griffin, who will be on his fifth trip to Panama. The communities are Santa Fe and San Francisco, which are in the Santa Maria Watershed area that will be studied by the research team.


UAH student team tests catalysts at Oak Ridge

ORNL trip -3TN

Chemical & Materials Engineering students from UAH worked in shifts for 48 hours straight in late May at Oak Ridge National laboratory in Tennessee to advance basic knowledge of materials proposed for use as catalysts in lithium batteries and fuel cells.

Led by Dr. Yu Lei, a UAH assistant chemical engineering professor, the team worked in Oak Ridge's High Flux Isotope Reactor (HFIR), using the facility's General Purpose Small-Angle Neutron Scattering Instrument to bombard 10 different materials with a high flux (>107 neutrons per cm 2 per sec) neutron beam. The scattering pattern resulting from the neutron diffraction provides information on the material's structure, giving engineers insight into which structures best fit their applications.

"Besides lithium battery materials research for energy storage, we were doing basic research for alternative fuels, looking for catalyzing agents that could be used to convert biofuels from biomass," says Dr. Lei. "We were also exploring advanced catalysts that could decompose methanol to make hydrogen for fuel cell use."