Our hydrogeology class field trip to Case Western Squire Farm

Students in my hydrogeology course at Case Western Reserve University just turned in their write-ups from our field trip to the university’s Squire Valleevue and Valley Ridge Farm.

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The university has a well field (shown below) that taps into an aquifer of Berea Sandstone (shown above in the outcrop of a nearby stream) confined above and below by Orangeville and Bedford Shale.

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Using a generator and submersible pump, we conducted a pump test, during which the students measured draw down in the wells.

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They installed a pressure transducer to record continuous data of depth to water.

We had some technical difficulties and mechanical challenges with pressure transducers and the sounding tape used to measure depth to water, but this provided a great opportunity for students to examine alternative methods and equations necessary to calculate aquifer properties with draw down data from only one well.

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Students measured pumping rate to ensure a constant rate of pumping used in calculations of aquifer properties during the pump test.

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Using the data they collected, students estimated aquifer properties including transmissivity, storativity, hydraulic conductivity, and discharge per unit width of aquifer.

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They also conducted electromagnetic surveys using an EM31 to measure conductivity and relative changes in moisture in the shallow subsurface. IMG_4308 copyComparing depth to water values in the wells and differences in EM measurements from two weeks prior, students were able to infer relative changes in water table and aquifer levels.

The students set up differential GPS surveys to obtain the location and elevation of the wells and EM31 survey points.

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Examination of topographic and geologic maps of the farm provided additional context to their surveys and examination of the GPS points in Google Earth.

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Differential GPS surveys, examination of the well logs, and a hike along an incised stream to see exposures of the underlying stratigraphy allowed students to infer relative connectivity between the water table, nearby ponds, a stream, and the sandstone aquifer.

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Examination of seepage faces at bedrock exposures and a closer look at the sandstone and shale provided insight into relative porosity and differences in hydraulic conductivity of the the different rock types. Visual examination of the rock types reinforce the understanding of differences between the sandstone aquifer and the shale aquitards.

IMG_4333 copyThe entire report aimed to provide hands-on experience with hydrogeological analysis, an understanding of water table and confined water connectivity, the role of underlying geology on the movement of groundwater, and a regional context for aquifer systems and local groundwater connectivity.

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Teaching Spatial Analysis of Surficial Processes in Spring ’19

After developing and proposing to teach an experimental upper level undergraduate and graduate level course at Case Western Reserve University, I have received university approval to teach Spatial Analysis of Surficial Processes! I also recently received approval for my request to reserve an interactive learning room and computer lab in the Kelvin Smith Library. This will provide me with extra resources in teaching a course that integrates field observations with an introduction to geographic information systems (GIS), coding in R statistical software, applied multivariate and spatial statistics. The course will emphasize topographic analysis of digital elevation models and the presence and movement of water, soil, and sediment across the surface of the Earth. Because no GIS courses are currently taught on campus, I already have a variety of interest from graduate and undergraduate students in my home department (Earth, Environmental, and Planetary Sciences) as well as those in Civil Engineering and ecologists in the Biology Department!

I am a Visiting Assistant Professor at Case Western Reserve University!

My new position as a Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of Earth, Environmental, and Planetary Sciences at Case Western Reserve University for the 2018 and 2019 academic year has just begun! This fall semester I am teaching an undergraduate and graduate Hydrogeology course while I work on getting out some more of my publications. In the spring, I will be teaching Global Environmental Problems and another course I am still designing. This new course will likely integrate aspects of geomorphology, hydrology, sustainability, and GIS. I am very excited about the opportunity to gain more teaching experience, this time at a private institution. These class sizes of 6 to 15 students are likely to be quite different than the course I taught in Vietnam, which had >90 students.

Expanding Your Horizons technical workshops to promote young women in science!

I am excited and proud to be part of the Northern New Mexico Expanding Your Horizons for the 2nd year in a row. This year I am organizing the presenters for students workshops at our upcoming event February 15th, 2018! This event is scheduled to connect over 250 middle school girls with female professionals in STEM fields through 16 interactive workshops. Each student will attend two workshops, a career fair, and a keynote speech by Dr. Jennifer Hollingsworth!

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As a researcher inspired by female scientists and advisers and one who seeks to remain informed about inequalities among peers in science, I am an advocate for women, diversity, and equality within our scientific community and encourage everyone else to be one as well. Check out the Expanding Your Horizons Network  and see how you can be involved with a chapter near you!

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My Teen Science Cafe on rivers featured on the TSC Network as a “Cool Cafe”!

Last night I finished my third Teen Science Cafe in Taos, NM through the first and original northern New Mexico chapter, Cafe Scientifique. Check out this great summary of my science cafe by one of the Los Alamos Teen Leaders, Elijah Pelofske. I am so greatful to be a part of this effort to share science with and get high school students excited about water resources, rivers, and sediment! I think some of the students were inspired by the fact that they can become a scientist although they didn’t seriously consider it before, much like I did after starting community college as an art student!

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https://teensciencecafe.org/cool-cafes/rivers-the-arteries-of-the-earth/

 

Engaging teens of northern New Mexico in science through Cafe Scientifique

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I just finished my second Cafe Scientifique at the Northern New Mexico College in Espanola, New Mexico. Along with research assistant, Meghan King, I have been talking to and working with high school students in northern New Mexico about Balancing Rivers for Society and the Environment. The natural balance of water and sediment is altered by human activity, especially dams, which can impact ecosystems and fish. The students conducted lab experiments with small flumes, in which they created small rivers to examine the balance of water and sediment in rivers!

IMG_7487 After comparing the amount and size of particle movement with low water flow compared to high flow conditions, the students constructed a dam across the river to see how it influenced the water and sediment balance. Above, Meghan asks the students about their observations when they increased water flow and constructed a dam. Below, students smile at the joy they find in Earth science, rivers, water, sediment, and flume experiments!

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Thank you Twila and the Espanola Cafe Scientifique for a great evening of science! Cafe Scientifique is an amazing outreach program lead by Michelle Hall from Science Education Solutions that brings scientists to engage with teens from local highschools! Michelle started the program in Los Alamos in 2007 and now there are Cafe Scientifique programs in several states around the country involving over 100 high schools! If you are a scientist, see if you can get involved in a local program, and if you are or know any teens, see if you can attend these great cafes!!