UAH student posters place at GEO-Huntsville Forum contest


UAH student poster presenters, from left, are fourth place winner (tie) Kel Markert, Whitney Cosby, second place winner Tim Klug, Amanda Weigel and fourth place winner (tie) Kaylin Bugbee.

Dave Cook | UAH

Five projects were presented by students at The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) during a poster competition at the GEO-Energy Summit and Educational Forum 2014 at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center Nov. 12-13.

Three UAH students brought home prizes from the poster session, which included research utilizing geospatial technologies by graduate and undergraduate students from UAH and Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical University (AAMU).


Second place winner Tim Klug explains his research to a conference attendee.

Dave Cook | UAH

The UAH posters represented the work of graduate and undergraduate students from science, engineering and liberal arts, funded and unfunded research, as well as research center employees, faculty and staff from the Earth System Science Center (ESSC) and the Information Technology and Systems Center (ITSC). Some of the work presented resulted from investments in undergraduate research by UAH's Office of the Vice President for Research and Economic Development, and the Office of Academic Affairs.

This year's poster projects and presenters included:

  • "Applications of Radar Topography for Water Quality Analysis of Panama Watersheds"; Tim Klug, Kelly Hodgskins, Brian O'Neill, Daryl Ann Winstead, Megan Carter, Rebecca Chalker, Nick Davis, Robert Griffin, Kyle Knight, David Cook (Second Place)
  • "Water Quality Monitoring of the Mekong River Using the Landsat Satellite Series"; Kel Markert, Robert Griffin, Dan Irwin (Fourth Place - tie)
  • "Spatial Analysis of Sediment Persistence: How Tropical Cyclone Events Affect Sedimentation in the Gulf of Mexico'; Kaylin Bugbee, Robert Griffin, Sara Graves, Sandy Ebersole (Fourth Place - tie)
  • "Enhancing disaster planning techniques and assessing potential loss through an automated GIS-based storm surge vulnerability product"; Amanda Weigel, Dan Gallagher, Robert Griffin
  • "Disaster Risk and Preparedness at the University of Alabama in Huntsville'; Whitney Cosby, Vikalp Mishra, Kevin Bennett, Robert Griffin, Cameron Handyside

Tie for fourth place winner, Kel Markert

Dave Cook | UAH

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and satellite remote sensing form a core of study for Earth System Science (ESS) students at UAH, says Dr. Rob Griffin of UAH's Atmospheric Science Dept.

"We teach these as tools, so our graduates go on to pursue careers in a wide range of fields," says Dr. Griffin. "Our GIS instruction is geared toward end-user, decision-making and policy-related perspectives for climate and environmental purposes."

The number of declared majors in the ESS program at UAH has grown rapidly since its inception in 2008. Located at the university's National Space Science & Technology Center (NSSTC), the program is part of an Atmospheric Science Dept. that is ranked in the top 10 nationally.

Dr. Griffin, who also presented at the conference in the Geospatial Workshop on Educational Opportunities, says the in-house expertise at the NSSTC enables UAH to tailor coursework to industry needs in Huntsville and elsewhere, and offers the flexibility to allow rapid response to changing requirements in terms of training and course development.

"The university currently offers a core suite of five GIS and image processing courses and five advanced graduate-level courses in geospatial and satellite remote sensing," he says. "We envision our course offering growing over the next several years, expanding both the breadth and depth of our undergraduate and graduate education in the geospatial sciences."

Dave Cook, coordinator of student research programs for UAH's Office of Academic Affairs who was one of the poster contest organizers, says it's important that UAH students have opportunities to share their research at professional conferences like GEO-Huntsville. Cook notes that undergraduate and graduate students at UAH have access to - and can participate in -leading research in geospatial sciences.


Tie for fourth place winner, Kaylin Bugbee

Dave Cook | UAH

"Our students have opportunities to participate in extramural internships with other institutions, including NASA-DEVELOP, a unique student internship and training program that has one of its national centers at the NSSTC," Cook says. "Likewise, students from our yearly summer program in the Republic of Panama are presenting their work."

Cook and Dr. Griffin hope to grow the student participation at GEO-Huntsville in coming years by including more universities and expanding research presentations to additional fields such as energy and cyber security.

Also presenting or moderating panels at GEO-Huntsville from UAH were Dr. Kathleen Hawk, associate professor of political science and director of the UAH Global Understanding Initiative; Dr. Sara Graves, computer science professor and director of the UAH Information Technology and Systems Center (ITSC); Dr. John Whitman, visiting assistant professor of management at the UAH College of Business Administration; and Roshini Ashok, a UAH electrical engineering graduate student.

The conference provided an opportunity for industry, academia and government to discuss Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle's technology-related economic development initiatives in geospatial technology and energy resiliency. It also offered an educational program that explored how to leverage the collective expertise in geospatial information and energy management to provide for domestic homeland security and energy independence.