New lab offers students chance at more research diversity


A new laboratory in UAH's Earth System Science Center is giving students opportunities to gain research experience in areas as diverse as archaeology from space, and learning which biological samples might try to take over the world if the power to their hermetically sealed freezer goes off for several days.

About a dozen students in Earth system science and atmospheric science are working on research projects this semester through the new Human Dimensions, Discovery and Decision Making (HD3) lab.

Amanda Weigel, for instance, is using satellite data and information about hurricanes from the past 150 years to study archaeological sites in Mexico's Yucatan peninsula to determine which sites might be at greatest risk from storm-related damage.


UAH team searches treetops for Maya secrets


Beneath the Guatemalan rainforests, hidden from mankind for more than a millennium, lie remains of the once vast kingdom of the Maya.

A pair of scientists from The University of Alabama in Huntsville will be in Guatemala next week to test whether a camera carried aloft by a tiny, battery-powered helicopter might one day help uncover lost Maya ruins.

Dr. Robert Griffin, an assistant professor of Earth system science at UAH, and graduate student Casey Calamaio will spend three days testing a multi-spectral camera during brief flights of a radio-controlled helicopter over Maya ruins at Tikal and Yaxha. They will use the images - similar to those from Landsat but in much higher resolution - to look for signs of the types of plant stress frequently seen in trees growing over archaeological sites in Central America.


Map of algal bloom chosen for 2014 ‘best of’ Esri book

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A series of satellite images composited by a UAH graduate student so they track the growth and disappearance of an algal bloom in a Guatemalan lake was chosen for publication by the company that created the software she used for the project.

Africa Flores, who will soon graduate with a masters of science degree in Earth system science, developed an algorithm that uses hyperspectral data from NASA's EO-1 satellite to measure and track changes in aquatic chlorophyll as a proxy for water quality in Lake Atitlan in Guatemala. This method can be transferred to study other lakes and large rivers in the region, where water quality information is otherwise scarce.


Don’t worry about getting fried by gamma ray burst, UAH researchers say


If recent news that UAH researchers observed the largest gamma ray burst ever has you nervous about getting blasted into extinction by a massive burst from space, the UAH researchers have good news.

The chances of Earth being fried by a burst are exceedingly rare. In fact, say Dr. Rob Preece, doctoral candidate J. Michael Burgess and Dr. Michael S. Briggs, Earth was actually at the center of the hit from April's big gamma ray burst, ­which they picked up on equipment aboard the Fermi Space Telescope that UAH and partners NASA/MSFC and the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics in Germany designed and tested.


Health24 is Popular Choice Award winner at America’s Datafest


A UAH programming team's Health24 product that translates prescription drug information into any language so it is accessible to immigrant populations has won the Popular Choice Award at the America's Datafest global competition.

"We are all very excited and proud to have won the Most Popular Award in Americas Datafest," said project lead Josh Jones. "The positive feedback we received shows us that this is an application people think would be useful, and this definitely motivates us to invest more development time to improve it."

The UAH team grabbed the most online votes to win the Popular Choice Award. The team previously won the America's Datafest grand prize in regional competition at Auburn, earning it $1,000 from Alabama Media Group and the opportunity to compete for the global prize.

Team members Josh Jones, Jarrod Parkes, James Parkes, Mini Zeng, Prabhash Jha and Ha Giang built a set of products they call Health24 that can translate medical labels and information. It includes a list of popular medicines sorted by common symptoms, translatable into any language; a searchable database of medicines that lists interactions; and a translation tool that works from photos of medicine instructions.


Universities to discuss future of propulsion at UAH workshop


The future of academic rocket propulsion research will be discussed when academic leaders in propulsion attend the second National Institute of Rocket Propulsion Systems (NIRPS) workshop at UAH Dec. 16-17.

University representatives from across the nation will discuss what government needs and wants when it invests in universities for academic propulsion research and how universities can support the workforce needs of the field.

The NIRPS workshop is co-chaired by Dr. Robert Frederick, director of the UAH Propulsion Research Center and professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, and Shankar Mahalingam, dean of the UAH College of Engineering and professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering. It is sponsored by the UAH Office of the Vice President for Research, the UAH Office of the Provost, the UAH College of Engineering, and the UAH Propulsion Research Center.


UAH professor wins Google grant to create research app for phones


A scientist at UAH has won a grant from Google to support developing a smart phone app to involve school children and the public in monitoring how our environment is changing.

The app, EnvEye (pronounced n-vie), will let camera-phone users track environmental changes in their own communities, as well as giving both researchers and government agencies a new tool for tracking such things as land use change and erosion.

The almost $36,000 grant will support a graduate student tasked with developing and field testing the phone application, said Dr. Udaysankar Nair, an assistant professor of atmospheric science at UAH.


UAH atmospheric scientists chasing lake-effect snows


An intrepid atmospheric science department team from UAH has departed Huntsville and is on the road north to track and measure lake-effect snowstorms from the southern banks of Lake Ontario, all in the name of better future weather forecasting.

The UAH scientific team is part of an effort called OWLeS - the Ontario Winter Lake-effect Snow project - that has component teams from six other colleges and universities plus one research center.

"A major objective of the project is to improve the forecasting of these lake-effect systems off the operating models," said Dr. Kevin Knupp, UAH team leader and professor of atmospheric sciences. Models can be refined when compared to actual data collected, sharpening forecasters' ability to pinpoint snowstorms and their effects.


Pilot program could lead to central UAH role in Mars fueling research


UAH could soon play a major role in solving a vexing refueling problem NASA would need to resolve in order to fly long-distance missions to places like Mars.

The university could become the center of interaction between NASA and European scientists doing advanced work on the problem. If a pilot program launched by the director and deputy director of the university's Propulsion Research Center (PRC) comes fully to fruition, UAH would be the clearinghouse for work in space refueling tank research.


UAH research into April 2011 tornadoes uncovers insights


Research into the violent storms that spawned killer tornadoes across Alabama and the southeastern U.S. in April 2011 continues to uncover insights into what might have caused so many powerful tornadoes, plus information about how we respond to weather news.

Scientists and graduate students from UAH recently presented information about their research at the National Weather Association's annual meeting, this year in Charleston, SC. Among the findings presented were: